No, I’m not talking about the Adele song that seems to have been popping up everywhere on the Internets lately (though I do like that song!). I’m just saying hello. This is the second public blog I’ve attempted to maintain since my baby daughter’s sudden death in August 2011, and I want to keep expectations of myself for this blog reasonable (notice I did not say ‘low’, I’m also trying to keep things more positive in my life). So this is just a short little introductory post, to get things going.
Hello. A little bit about myself: I was born and raised in the Bay Area, and live in Oakland. I love it here. Although I was born in Alameda, the next town over—a sleepy little island that is different from Oakland as night from day—and lived there for the first eight years of my life, Oakland is my adopted hometown. I am happily married to my husband, Henry, and after almost three years of wedded bliss we had a beautiful little baby girl in March 2011, who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in August of the same year (and yes SIDS is a real thing and if you don’t believe so you can leave now because you and I will *not* get along). Her name is Naima and she was our first and only child. She was happy and healthy, very calm and observant from the moment she was born. Of course she cried and had fussy moments like any baby, but many people remarked on how serene she seemed even as a newborn. She brought more joy to my life than I ever imagined possible. And much too soon, she was gone, with no medical reason and no warning. My perfect, beautiful baby girl, just gone.
Here is a picture of Naima, at about three months old. Her bib says ‘Drool is cool’.Naima was and still is the light of my life, and losing her killed many parts of me—important, useful, joyful parts that I loved—forever. Like my motivation, my belief that everything in life would turn out okay as long as I was a good person and did what I was supposed to do, my faith that I would be able to overcome anything. Since her death, I have also struggled with infertility, suffering two early miscarriages since 2014. Those were not easy to deal with either, because they were the death knell of my biological motherhood, which I treasured and loved more than anything else. Now, I am mother to only babies who have died. There is no name for me in any language that I know of, nor for my husband who also suffers because of these losses even if he did not carry these babies in his body.
This blog is about surviving these losses, about continuing to live despite these losses, and yes, about trying to thrive—even if I know deep in my heart that that might not really be possible, at least according to my own standards. You see, before my daughter died, I had a rich, vibrant, full life, I was a Type-A do-it-all type of woman that wanted to (and already had) accomplished much in life. I was happy, I was content, I felt purposeful. I believed I had many decades of accomplishments to achieve and contributions to make to making the world a better place.
Now, I am different. I still live with purpose, but I am no longer so strident, so passionate in that sense of purpose. When you have lost a child, everything (for me anyway) gets put into that context. All happiness, colors, joys, sorrows, bitterness, blessings feel a little less vibrant, intense and clear. Plus, you just get really, *really* fucking tired. Grief is exhausting. Trying to not look and sound sad because you have to work or be around people who don’t care about your grief is exhausting. Having to explain to people around you how not to be so fucking annoying about grief is exhausting. Just *living* at times can feel exhausting.
And I honestly just don’t care as much about anything any more. I care, but it’s not the same anymore. Some people might call this depression, and perhaps they are right. But I get up every (or at least most) morning and do my work and am basically a healthy person who contributes to society. I have a good job, food on the table, a wonderful husband I love, friends I care for and who care for me. I am *very* blessed.
But it’s different now, after the losses of my children. Very different.
Hello. You still with me? Or have you left already, overwhelmed by all this sadness and grief? I wouldn’t blame you if you did. It’s not easy to hear about this stuff. Thing is, I can’t leave my life behind, as much as I might like to.
I’m a big fan of the recently released film, Creed. (Go see it if you haven’t already, and let me know what you think). In it, there’s a line that Rocky Balboa says (I won’t tell you why because that would be a spoiler) about his beloved late wife Adrian that resonated deeply with me. I can’t find the script online to get the exact quote so I’ll paraphrase:
“If I could take everything good, and put it in a big bowl, and give it back, and have one more day with my wife—I would do it.”
That’s how I feel about my life now—I would give it all for one more day with my daughter and husband together, our little family happy and content. It’s a simple dream, but I can’t have it. I can’t put everything in a big bowl and trade it for one more day. As a mother to my Naima, to my child, and a wife to my husband, I felt complete.
So what do I do now? Well, I do my best to survive, and to find things to live for. My husband, Henry, whom I love more than anything or anyone besides my babies, is the main person I live for, and I am eternally grateful to have him by my side as a companion and partner on this lonely, hard road. But what else do I live for? How do I move towards a life of not just surviving but thriving?
So, hello, and welcome to my new blog, where I hope to explore all the things that I do (or try to do) and that others do to both survive and hopefully, ultimately, someday—maybe tomorrow or maybe twenty years from now—learn how to thrive again after experiencing devastating loss. I don’t know if I’ll come up with any real answers, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up with this blog (surviving for me is hard, and takes a lot of energy, at times leaving little for blog-writing at times), but I am going to try. And that’s often what surviving is all about. Just getting up, and trying, and doing your best. And even if your ‘best’ at that moment is just the getting up, trying to be okay with that.
Hello. Hope you made it this far. I look forward to walking this path with you too.