No matter how good you think things are going, no matter how many truly happy things there are to celebrate in your life, there is nothing good about the first holiday season after your baby dies. Nothing.
Tonight, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I cried and sobbed like I haven't for months. I wept to the point of gagging. I hurt again, like it was only yesterday's wound.
I don't think there will be much sleep tonight.
"I didn't know I was still this sad," I told Lou. I didn't think you were either, he replied, as he held me.
This was supposed to be my baby's first Thanksgiving. First Hannukah. First Christmas. First New Year. First snow.
Instead it will be deja vu of last year, when the holidays were all about hopeful anticipation of the baby to come. Instead it will be overwhelming crowds and stimulation against nerves and emotions brushed raw, with no escape route in sight. It will be awkward conversations and well meaning gestures inflicting pain. It will be a constant reminder of that which isn't.
It's such a stereotype. Grief at the holidays. Google that - it yields over 13 million results.
At this time last year, we didn't know about the heart defect (December 20 was the fateful day for that little revelation). We were just excited to be having a baby. The tests had all come back clear. Everything was OK.
But it wasn't OK.
My baby died. It's not just a thing that happened. I've begun to think of it as a thing that happened, and it's not. It's not, it's not. it's not.
The holidays are like a minefield of triggers. Of annual events. Of people you see only once per year. Of things that are exactly like they were last year only now it's all completely different.
In between the tears was panic and hyperventilation at getting through the next couple of months.
I really didn't think I was still this sad. I hate that grief still has the power to completely overwhelm me, when I least expect it. I hate that the rest of the world has moved on, that most of the time I've moved on, and yet there it lurks - the pain, the guilt, the fear, the sorrow. Like a nightmare in the darkness just waiting to pounce and steal your breath.
It makes me sad, it makes me angry, it makes me guilty that what used to be joyous times are now something I am dreading like a root canal. I don't know if I can do it. I don't know if I'll wake up tomorrow and feel totally OK and ready to dive into the holiday spirit. I just don't know.
I didn't know I was still this sad.