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.