My sister took C.T. and her girls to a nature preserve yesterday, so I had a few hours to myself. I decided to go for a jog along the river, something I've been doing sporadically to shock and electrify my sorrow filled body. I'm assuming there is some benefit to blood moving through these weary shadow limbs,... even as being out in nature, where Zachary will never be, still sickens me.
On my return home, I decided to change my course and pass by a house that we rented for one year (mid-2011 to mid-2012) while we were building the home we live in now. I guess I wanted to see a place that would remind me of a time when life was still somewhat hopeful, when the grief we lived with was singular, with just one deceased child. When a living sibling for C.T. was still something that was thinkable. As I walked by, I imagined the spaces inside. The kitchen without a dishwasher, the bathtub drain that clogged constantly due to years of abuse, the coffin-like, spider infested shower that B used in that awful smelly basement so that C.T. and I could use the nicer bathroom upstairs. I remembered how we made the best of it, made it our temporary and comfortable home.
I have fond and frenzied memories there. It was so hot during both of those summers that I have probably 200 photos of B and C.T. together in the plastic kiddie pool that stood, almost permanently inflated, in the backyard. I was still working at the time (in a global role that required crazy hours), designing our home and working with the builder constantly. Every day was filled with dozens of work and personal appointments and conference calls, from early morning until well after C.T. went to bed. I remember C.T.'s first day of preschool, the photos we took that morning outside, in the front lawn by the tree. I remember C.T. and me riding his new plasma car down the tiny hallway together, in our pajamas on Christmas morning. I remember having a few other bereaved mothers and their living children over for a cinco de mayo playdate.
As I passed the house, now sporting a basketball hoop belonging (presumably) to the new renter, I see a mother, three blonde children and a baby in a stroller up ahead. The woman is heavyset and wearing a long black skirt that rocks and swooshes with each step. The group moves slowly, the size of the group demanding patience and catering to the pace of the youngest walker. Within seconds, I recognize her from our rental house days. She lives five or six houses away from our rental. Red adirondack chairs decorate her front yard, under a gorgeous shade tree. We have never met, perhaps waved at each other a few times that year, recognizing that we lived in the same vicinity.
Pangs of jealously and anger grip my insides. When we lived on that street, three years ago, she was pregnant with her third child. I was secretly jealous of her then. That third child now walks with the herd AND there is a new baby. Another one! In the time that she has popped out and had the privilege to mother her third and fourth, I have had a miscarriage, and then perfect Zachary, dead at two weeks of age, because of fucking E.coli.
My thoughts. How is this possible? I have long ago abandoned fairness as vernacular for the way this world actually works, but somehow my ugly righteous thoughts still permeate. I did everything right, as it relates to getting my children here safely. With Zachary, I ate wild salmon, salads and homemade food, avoided anything remotely harmful, exercised moderately, injected myself daily with Lovenox, as prescribed, even when my stretched midsection had no shot sites available. I prayed for Zachary's safety and health. Constantly. I re-aligned my expectations when my water broke suddenly, when I laid absolutely flat for a week, when Zachary was born and deemed healthy, through his first week of scans when his problems were so minor and surmountable, as I cared for him through portholes in a hospital setting, when he acquired sepsis, when he was near death, when it looked like he would recover and might suffer with (minor or major) lasting implications.
Two of my three children, dead.
And this woman. She looks like she ate twinkies and doritos and drank nothing but soda, throughout all of her pregnancies. She probably has no idea how fortunate she is. Four kids. All perfectly spaced out by two years or so. All seemingly healthy. God.
It is true. I have no idea who this woman is, what she has been through in her life, what battles rage in her head and heart on a daily basis. She might have even looked at me with pangs of jealousy, had her own ugly thoughts, that perhaps I had what she perceived as freedom. Skinny bitch... probably has never had to care about anyone but herself. But, I guarantee whatever fleeting thought she had about me as we passed each other, was quickly dashed away by the needs of those four beautifully blonde children.
The ache that I feel when I see mothers and their happy lot of children - most of them whole - will never go away. Ever since B.W. died, that element of being part of society, of our community, even our extended family and friends, has been difficult. With Zachary's death, that feeling has compounded to the point that it's too painful to be around other families. With two dead children, being around whole families, honestly even families who have lost one child but have multiple other living children, makes us painfully aware of how obliterated ours is. I hope that feeling diminishes, over time, to the point where we can at least spend pain free time with our once-bereaved friends. There aren't many twice bereaved women that I know who can help me understand how to live with this for the rest of my life, how these feelings might become more manageable, over time.
It is really ugly. I know. And, it is just one of the unflattering aspects of my grief. One that I'm willing to share publicly, here.