Grief

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I don’t know how to grieve. I seem incapable of it. I want to grieve. I want to feel something, anything. Instead I am out of sorts, numb…rational. I’m really not sure what to do about it. Everyone talks about grief like it is this thing you just do, as if it just happens to you. And it has me wondering if I’m defective. People cry when they grieve, right? They feel things. They experience sadness, anger, denial. They move through it. They go through stages. But I don’t.

I try to come up with an answer for my lack of grief. Not that I am not sad or don’t miss Brielle, but I feel wrong. Like I’m living in someone else’s skin. I am really not sure how to put into words what I’m feeling. I behaved the same way with my Papa. I love him dearly, but I never grieved him. I wanted to and still do. He deserved to be mourned. I want to mourn him. To celebrate his life and feel loss that he is gone. Instead I feel like an outsider, peering in at someone else’s life.

Maybe I’m just protecting myself. Maybe I’m having a fight or flight response and I’m just shutting it all off. While I took care of Papa, I remember getting away from the house and sobbing, because the reality of the situation was sinking in. Not his death, but how he was dying. It tore me apart. I understood it too well and it broke my heart. But it was not the time for me to be sad. Whatever he needed, I needed to be ready for. So I stood in the middle of the county road, cold air burning my cheeks and I shoved my pain as deep inside as I could. I stood there until I could feel nothing, not even the cold air on my face. And then I went back inside.

I did the same thing with Brielle, but it was different. I stayed open to her, to loving her, I let myself feel. But I refused to let myself grieve. Whenever my pain would begin to bubble up, I’d shove it back as quickly as I could. Brielle hated it when I was upset and it was selfish of me to experience negative emotions when her life was so short. She didn’t need to know anything about sadness, she just needed to know happiness and love. Sometimes I would slip and I’d apologize to her, rubbing on my belly and letting her know that I was just worried about her. I’d tell her it would be okay and then I’d tell her that she was sick and that she may not get to stay with Daddy and I. I’d explain to her what would happen and as I spoke I, once again, shoved my hurt deeper inside.

And maybe this is why I can’t grieve. Maybe I just can’t let go. Maybe I’m just trying to be happy for her still. Happy for Papa still. Maybe I’m just too busy trying to make them comfortable. I should be able to move past this point, they aren’t here anymore. They’re together and they are happy. And that makes me happy. It brings me comfort and I hold onto the hope that we will be together again. But I need to be sad too. I need to grieve, but I don’t know how.

Heartache in the Little Things

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We met my cousin and his girlfriend for breakfast a few weekends ago. They had come to Atlanta for a concert. My cousin has a little boy who really is the cutest thing, he’s a very happy and smart boy. I asked my cousin what his son wanted for Christmas and he told me the things he was obsessed with at the moment.

I was surprised how much it hurt hearing about the things he liked. It didn’t have anything to do with my cousin and his family. And I wouldn’t want him or anyone to stop talking to me about their children and their lives. But it hurts because I immediately began to wonder what Brielle would be interested in at that age. Two of my cousins as young children have loved dogs and dinosaurs and I found myself hurting because I wanted to know if Brielle would have been the same. I later asked David if he thought Brielle would have liked dogs, he grabbed my hand and said, “Probably, she loved her big sissies.” Brielle would wiggle around when she would hear me call Emmy and Rosie (our dog children). She’d love it when I’d play games with them and she loved feeling them rest their heads (or half their body) on my belly.

I have thoughts like this all the time. I’m sure it’s normal. Watching someone with a stroller and thinking, “I should have a stroller.” Folding Brielle’s newborn clothes and thinking, “I wonder if she’d still fit in these now.”

I came back upstairs from the basement the other night, I had been working on David’s media room and had been down there for hours. I found myself wondering what I would have done with Brielle during that time. It’s like I have a double life or a split identity. I really can’t explain it well. I find myself living the life I am in now, but always wondering what I would be doing in that moment if Brielle were still alive and healthy. Every moment of every day she is on my mind.

When I get in the car I check my mirrors and immediately think, “I should adjust my mirrors so I can see Brielle.” And then I immediately correct myself. She’s not here to check on. I go on. Everything goes on. But I never stop thinking of her. Wondering. Wishing. It hurts. It hurts in that “I’ve accepted this” way. I’m not losing my mind. I’ve accepted she’s gone and it hurts. It just hurts, all the time.