Friday, August 9, 2013
Rabbit stew - Still not six months
I did something a little out of character last week. I went to see a medium. Not that I don’t know where Joe is – I guess I wanted to know if he was in turmoil or unhappy that I’m having a baby. And the verdict is…..dat dat dat dah….I have no idea. I know a lot of people try the same thing to find peace after a loved one dies and some people absolutely get peace from it. I did not. I kept waiting for something that only Joe would know or maybe to hear that someone else who had passed away was coming through. And alas, I am left with memories that I already had and what I think my loved ones would want to say.
I was on a Facebook page for lost babies and saw a medium who had a waiting list for ‘readings across the miles.’ Apparently she had suffered a loss as well so that gave her license to peddle to bereaved moms. It’s a lucrative market. I went to someone who did not advertise, who was recommended by people who had great experiences there. I just didn’t get a mind-blowing convincing read.
The weird thing was the conversation in between ‘messages.’ The stuff this woman talked about in passing resonated with me.
She talked about Joe’s story impacting people. That people from all over were hearing about Joe and he was making a difference in a lot of people’s lives. I had to ask if any of them would ever tell me or Joe’s dad about that impact. She explained some folks are young souls and simply cannot see the world outside themselves. They see things like Joe’s death only for how it affects them. They love chaos and will sometimes go out of their way to cause it. They are incapable of feeling empathy but not because they are bad people – they just have young souls who have not yet learned how to be, or act, or care in a way that’s helpful to others.
This medium said maybe this new baby would be an easier channel for people to reach out and I had to ask – even though I wasn’t really buying into the whole talking to the dead, messages from beyond idea – will Joe help me to forgive these people who have let us down when we needed them?
I know mediums aren’t for everyone. I don’t know that I would ever go back or even if I would try again with a new medium.
When I came home, I felt sick to my stomach for the rest of the evening and had to be alone. The next morning, I woke up with a sense of something I had not felt before. I don’t know that Joe came through in my session with the medium but he certainly paid me a visit in his own way.
I go to a grief support group and the coordinator keeps talking about doing the work – not avoiding the grief – and insists that a goodbye ritual is necessary for healing. She says even women who enter menopause are encouraged to do something to mark the end of their fertility because it, too, is a loss.
I’ve rolled my eyes each time she’s mentioned those ideas. I’m going to a support group. I write about Joe. I go to counseling TWICE a week. How much more work can I do?
I don’t want to do a goodbye ritual because I don’t want to say goodbye to Joe. When I ‘sit with my grief’ I just pray that I’ll stop breathing so I don’t have to feel what comes out. A month ago I finally got the guts together to get Joe’s death certificate and it was a wreck. They had called him Baby Linegar and crossed out that and put Joe G. Morgan in there and then someone had written above the middle initial – rayson. It was not at all what a person deserves. His poor little name appears on one document.
Normally I’d be outraged but the idea of going back to my OB or the funeral home to flip out or demand a new one…I’m out of fight. I can’t yell Joe’s name ever again in anger.
One thing I’ve learned is that the world is not going to give me a break because Joe died. They are going to continue being assholes no matter what happened. That has given me some peace to realize that. No more than I get special treatment because I’m pregnant. People don’t reach back to hold the door for a second to let me through. I don’t get let though the Dunkin Donuts line when I’m nauseous holding a toddler that was promised a sprinkle donut. It’s okay. It just means I need to treat myself special.
See how I ramble when I talk about things that make me uncomfortable?
I didn’t hold a memorial or ask a church to hold a service for Joe because I was afraid it would be me, H and J sitting at an empty funeral. It was a good excuse not to mark Joe’s life because ultimately, I didn’t want to face what happened. I cancelled the urn we ordered the day Joe died. I said it was because the funeral director was a jerk and he was, but I felt like the clover leaf I had engraved on the urn was too flip and almost mocking. I felt lucky and blessed to be Joe’s mother. I felt drawn to the Irish blessing and I knew the second I got pregnant this time that I was carrying Joe’s Irish twin. I was angry at myself for feeling any peace at all.
So here I am, six months later, planning a memorial. Not that I’m comfortable with it all of a sudden. I’m turning inside out. It took about six different nights sitting in front of the computer searching for urns. I could go to another funeral home and see their displays but that’s not on my list of capabilities either. I did finally find a small wooden memory box with the entire Irish blessing and it will have Joe’s name engraved on it. His full name - Joe Grayson Morgan. I’m not ready to transfer the ashes. I haven’t even opened the package they came in.
I ordered some candle holders that have the Irish blessing on them. I ordered a giant door hanging with the blessing inscribed on it that will not have Joe’s name but it will be over our entranceway and I know all three of us, eventually four of us, will add Joe’s name to it every time we come in the house. I’ve ordered some oxalis (shamrock) plants. They look like clover leaves with tiny white blossoms. They are easy to care for, love being watered, survive indoors in winter and outdoors in summer and can last for more than a dozen years. I made a new friend at Falmouth Flowers because of Joe but that story is for another blog post.
I felt it was necessary to mark Joe’s life before I can even begin to develop a relationship with this new life growing in my belly. I wish I could say it’s been seamless and easy to do that but the feeling is a lot like the day Joe died. When I was refusing to leave the room at Maternal Fetal Medicine until someone told me where I was going to get a toothbrush for my hospital stay. Picture Bugs Bunny when he’s being forced into the stew pot. It’s not pretty and I’m anything but graceful.
Since placing all the orders, I’ve started having panic attacks again. The urge to get out of Portland has been overwhelming. I know I should be here to accept the packages but I just want to put the mail on hold and go camping somewhere that I can’t get phone signal. Like a lot of mistakes I almost made since losing Joe, leaving town is impossible right now. Today for example it’s pouring rain and our tent is less than ideal for monsoon weather.
I know without question Joe has been watching over me since he left. Sometimes he points me in the right direction. Sometimes he puts people in my path that I so desperately need. Sometimes he gives me just enough strength to breathe. But he can’t change other people. He’s having a hard enough time changing me. I want to be stronger and I want to be a better mom to him, to H, and to this new baby. Before I can do that, I need to face that Joe is not here. That Trisomy 13 stole him from me and I had a stillborn baby in February. I need to face it to be more present with H and stop worrying every second that I’ll lose him too. I need to face it before I can embrace a new child into our lives, before I go back to Maternal Fetal Medicine for this baby’s 20 week ultrasound where our whole world was derailed just six months ago.
I have also come to realize that any room that holds Joe’s remains, my son H and my husband J is a full room and more than enough to celebrate Joe’s short time with us. Turns out I’ve always had everything and everyone I needed right here.
The horror is not over for us but I have hope that someday it won’t feel quite as bad or raw. Just as the panic attacks eventually pass, so will my fear that facing my grief will be the end of me. I have not dealt with Joe’s death. I’ve gone through the motions and did all the textbook things a person should do to be healthy after a loss. But my experience is tucked way back in a place I’m afraid to go.
My husband keeps telling me this is not saying goodbye, it’s finding a way to keep Joe in our lives. I’ve really only ever lost one person that devastated me nearly as much as losing Joe and watching his casket be lowered into the ground was the worst. But there was some healing in giving his eulogy and helping plan his service. So I guess it’s a matter of reframing this. It’s not a memorial, it’s a tribute. And it’s a part of life just like birth is. I think a person’s brain needs to see and touch death to really appreciate life. No question about it – this sucks. But it is nice at times to be in an empty room and feel someone I love beside me. That’s comfort that even people who are alive and kicking can’t provide.
When all the items I’ve ordered arrive, we will light some candles and pick up our oxalis plants to honor Joe. I don’t know what date that will be and I don’t know if I will share it. I do know that writing about Joe has been a tremendous help. Reading other blogs has also helped me. One good turn deserves another. Thank you for visiting. I’m sorry for whatever your loss is that brought you here. But I wish you peace and the strength to keep surviving.
An Irish Blessing
May the road rise up the meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
The rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
Trisomy 13 grief stillbirth MaterniT21 loss Patau syndrome Maine midwives cleft palate coarctation of the aorta incompatible with life omphalocele polydactyly pregnancy after loss rainbow rocker bottom feet termination thickened nuchal fold Irish twins MFM Maine Medical Center Maternal Fetal Medicine Trisomy 21 anxiety rainbow baby All About Women EMT Edward's Syndrome IUFD Irish blessing MMC Mainecare Mercy Mercy Hospital NICU Obamacare PTSD Patau's Portland Trisomy 18 baby loss bereaved moms birth plan blessings changing providers coping defects depression home birth mediums memorial for stillborn baby pregnancy shamrock sign language silver nitrate state screenings survivor ultrasound