I'm slowly entering this final turn, the hairpin that will increase speed until I crash unceremoniously on February 12. Like Julia, a year is not enough: I am not ready to end this grief, I don't think I could if I wanted. But: my grief this year has not been limited to Maddy's death; there has been a fair amount of mourning for me. I can't simply say that "a part of me died", because in addition to that missing limb of mom without a baby, a big chunk of my very identity was lost in that hospital cubicle on the night of February 18th. As I look around the deadbabyverse, I see a lot of pining for the "old me." The happy me, the thin me, the positive me, the me with hope, the me with plans, the me who was brave and risk-taking, the smiling me, the social me, the me who gave a crap.
Remember that me? And we lament her loss as we cycle through hell on a redundant, daily basis, glancing at old photos, fingering (or in my case, angrily throwing) old clothes that no longer fit, picking up books that used to be meaningful, remembering meals we tasted and joy we experienced, dreams we had and wishes we made, and wondering if we will ever -- EVER -- see any vestige of the old me again. It's almost as if two people died, not one, and we're in parallel mourning for this person we barely recognize anymore. And although I'm not remotely ready to "accept" Maddy's death (for Pete's sake, I'm barely around to finally accepting that I was indeed pregnant and she existed and this was not some bizzarro 9 month + 6 day nightmare), I am rather ready to stick a fork in the me part. I have come to the conclusion, a year later, that I will never be that person again. Ever. She is gone. It is outright impossible given what I have gone through. And it's time to just accept that, accept the new me and all it's nuances, and move the hell on with the new Tash.
Before you get all panicky I am not totally junking the old me. In reno terms, this is not a tear-down. I would like to resurrect runningTash, and yogaTash. I have made some progress on tasting- and cookingTash. I have not even given up entirely on size6Tash. And I would really, really like to think that unadulterated joy is within the realm of possibility somewhere down the road. I liked being happy. I reserve the right to at least keep those parts of my brain and heart mothballed while the rest sorts itself out.
As for the present body, I do not love it, I will not be putting little inspirational messages on my mirror to make peace with it. Pardon me, gentle readers who are kind to thyselves, I am really not remotely the type to have a beer, climb naked into a warm tub, and have an "I really love you, man!" lovefest with my body. I miss my old tiny me. I hate this new overweight me, and what I really hate are the strings attached to this weight. I hate that my body (foot; apparently abetted by an old sports injury) crapped out on me while trying to get rid of the flab as though I'm middle aged. SHUT UP, DON'T EVEN GO THERE. NEW ME IS ALLOWED A MODICUM OF DENIAL. Ergo, I am not really accepting this body as the new me, unless you count despising it, which, ironically, was also part of the old me. (Amazing, even in my old size 6 self I found room to criticize. Karma's a bitch.) I am, however, doing something about it, albeit slowly: part of getting runningTash back is doing extensive, expensive, and painful PT with my foot. The old Tash dreamed about another marathon or a 10-miler; the new Tash, understanding her feet may not hold up that long anymore, is still mulling over a triathlon.
There are negatives in the new me, that is a given. I am less optimistic (was I ever?), more pessimistic, and I'll never walk into anything blind again. I was somewhat of a dreamer -- not always of the Viggo Mortensen asking me out and money falling from the sky variety, but I liked projecting myself to somewhere else and wondering how great that certain place or time or experience would feel. I can't tell you the last time I did that. I live in the present right now, and will for the foreseeable future. The future will just have to wait for me to get there and I'll deal with it then. What hurts a lot too is that I always thought of myself as "healthy" and a lot of that had to do with my gene pool. I have relatives who lived until 100 and beyond; my soon to be 91 year old grandfather still hikes, goes to Alaska every summer, and golfs -- with an assistant because he is legally blind. I have always been athletic, never smoked, taken care of my diet, taken my vitamins. So to know that I harbor some babykiller gene? Well, it's a bit of a blow to the ol' ego and family lineage. Not to mention a real middle-finger to the time and sacrifice of my good-health life. And a big fat anvil falling on my already-dubious reproductive future. But, as I said, sitting around ruing it ain't gonna make it disappear. I have this gene (it would appear). Time to move on.
Not all of the negatives are entirely negative though, if you know what I mean. I really feel my limitations now. I used to be one of those people who just pushed through, plowed through pain, was extraordinarily patient. I'm not anymore, I cannnot deal with bullshit nor will I do something if it hurts. I'm not going to tell you this is some "I know what's important, and life's too short" philosophy, because it's not really. I'm just much more in touch with what I can and can't do, what I want to do and what I don't want. I will, quite frankly, put it down and go watch television. Or, tell you that you're full of crap and walk away. There are other silver-lining among the shit-clouds: A few years ago I would've flipped out if my toddler daughter nonchalantly asked me while in the middle of her bath: "are you going to die tomorrow?" And now it's met with an academic, three-year-old answer which is essentially: No, (probably) I won't. I hate that she has to know this much about death at this age, but I'm glad I'm more equipped to deal with it and her because I'm guessing we're not done with it yet.
I need, somehow, kumbaya, to make peace with this, the stuff I'll never get back, and the stuff I'm going to try and reclaim, and cobble together a new me. It will be a me with a different set of friends, and a different set of priorities. I will have different limits, a different view of myself, a different attitude toward others. I need to accept that my innocence is shattered, and that I'll never again be able to enter an experience with blind faith that it will work out in the end. I have lost my naivete forever: Santa doesn't exist, God is dead (oh, who am I kidding, I learned those things around age 10). I am still stuck reproductively, and probably will be for a while. And I need to just make peace with that, and learn to be with it. I'm not saying that I'm going to hide in my closet and make my immediate family members dress in chain mail when they leave the house, but I will probably go through the rest of my life flinching, and steeled for the bad. But it's not so bad to be prepared, is it not? Hopefully there will be some happiness, some taste, and -- dare I jinx it -- some joy between the furtive sideways glances.
And I will always miss my daughter -- that, too, I need to come to grips with. Believe me, I've heard the crap about time healing wounds and broken hearts, but no amount of time is going to fill the empty space that resides within me. It's going to be there until the day I finally leave this planet, and I just need to learn to live with that hole. It sucks, it's unfair, and it's hard, but it is what it is and there's no dialing that back.
Now, back to missing my daughter. Have I told you about the pile of death certificate forms, bereavement information, hospital handouts, foot and hand prints, photos, ultrasound photos, cards, bracelets, and other Maddy detritus on my dresser? It's been there 339 days. Talk about not ready -- you'd think I could at least put it in a drawer.