But the thing about remembering, is that you don’t forget.

They say that when a tragedy happens, you never forget. But that’s not true. You do forget. Sometimes for a few seconds, sometimes even for a few hours. But then you remember. And the remembering is the hardest part. It’s like finding out all over again. You remember walking into her room like it happened an hour ago. And it hits you again like a wave. You feel like you’re suffocating and you can’t scream for help. Your heart races and your thoughts race and a shadow comes over you. You would give anything to forget again, because it doesn’t hurt as bad.

The thing that no one ever mentions though, is the guilt. Even if the tragedy had nothing to do with you and was in no way your fault, there’s still guilt. It’s the guilt of forgetting. The guilt of feeling normal. The guilt of wanting to be normal. The guilt of wanting to forget. The guilt of maybe, possible, someday wanting a baby again. Maybe even soon. The guilt that comes from being happy at a time in your life when you’re not supposed to be. Because how could you forget? How could you forget your sweet daughter that just died? So you beat yourself up about it. Continuously. You get angry with yourself. You might even lash out at other people. But that is not normal. Forgetting doesn’t make you a bad person or bad parent. It makes you human.

Every time I spend time not thinking about Maya, even if it’s only a few minutes, I feel so guilty it makes me sick. How could I just forget her? How can I not just sit around and cry all day long and be miserable? Because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? That’s what everyone thinks I should be doing. I get the funniest looks out in public when I laugh or look happy. People give me looks that say “Didn’t your baby just die? Why are you smiling? Shouldn’t you be miserable?” But the truth is, I am miserable. But not all of the time. At least not anymore. Sometimes things feel okay and I am able to act almost normal. I shop, I cook, I clean, I go to restaurants, I spend time with my family. I’m still normal. Just a new kind of normal. A different kind. It’s not better or worse, it’s just different. I wish more than anything that I could go back to the normal that I had with Maya. But I’ve realized, that I was never not normal. Things have changed, sure. My whole world has. But that doesn’t make me a freak or different from anyone else.

No one ever mentions that the pain you put yourself through is (almost) worse than the tragedy itself. The regrets, the what ifs, the guilt, the sad songs you listen to even though you know you are just going to bawl the whole time, the endless hours you spend thinking about what you would be doing right now if this hadn’t happened, the utter loneliness you feel but the inability to truly be close to anyone anymore. It all adds up. And it makes it harder. You’re going through the worst thing that’s ever happened to you. It’s okay to not be all right all of the time. It’s okay to binge watch Netflix so that you don’t have to think about things today. It’s okay to eat your feelings. It’s okay to sleep all day. It’s okay to cry in the store when you walk through the baby aisle. It’s okay to still want to have sex with your husband, just for the closeness of it. It’s okay to be angry and sad. It’s okay to hit pillows and throw things. And it’s okay to be happy. Anything that you need to do to get through this is okay. But no one ever says that. They say “Do so and so and you’ll be okay” or “It’s okay, you can always have another.” But I’m telling you, do WHATEVER you want. Seriously. No one is going to be able to tell you how to fix things.

Things WILL get better. I don’t know if that’s going to be tomorrow, or next year, or in ten years. But I really do believe that someday, I’ll be okay. Thinking about Maya will make me happy, not bring me to tears instantly. I’ll be able to put her ducky away with her other things instead of carrying it with me everywhere I go. I’ll be able to make her quilt out of her clothes and put it on my bed. I’ll be able to have more children and not feel guilty for doing so. And someday, I will join her and get to hold her for the rest of eternity. And let me tell you, I cannot wait.

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4 thoughts on “But the thing about remembering, is that you don’t forget.

  1. Love you sweet girl. No one can tell you how to make this journey or make it easier, you make it in your own way and in your own time and all we can do is pray that it gets easier for you and love you every minute of every day.

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  2. This is my favorite post of yours so far. It may not feel right all the time, heck, even most of the time. But you have hope. And it will be OK. One day. And that makes me smile. Keep writing and don’t ever give up. Ever . Cyndi 🙂

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  3. I’m from BBC and have followed your story but never commented. Of all of your posts, this one made me cry the hardest. You are so brave and strong and I just know this post will help someone else who is grieving. From the deepest part of my heart, I am so sorry for the loss of sweet Maya. I hope that your days of happy remembrance will one day outweigh the sad. My baby was born a few weeks before Maya and I will teach him about butterflies and how special they are and we will remember her.

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  4. Hi Danielle,

    Another November 14 BBC mama here. I have not stopped thinking about you or sweet Maya. You were placed on my heart this evening, so I wanted to let you know that a stranger-friend in Oregon is thinking about you and praying for you. I am so overcome with grief when I consider your pain, I can’t even imagine what you’re going through. I hope and pray that you continue to find your new normal, even if it’s not the one you would have chosen for yourself. I am blessed by your strength and all of your stories of Maya’s sweetness.

    I also wanted to share this blog post with you, written by a fellow church-goer of mine. http://ellekerkhoff.theworldrace.org/?filename=god-in-the-midst-of-tragedy

    Never forget–you are a great mom! =)

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