This season, the holidays, grief, and me.

Something new has been happening a lot over the last few days, and it always catches me off guard. I’ll start talking about Aria and I have so many things I want to say, many of which I’ve said without difficulty time and time again. But something has changed, and I keep choking up before I can get the words out. This ultimately forces me to clam up to stop the tears, and it’s very frustrating. I know grief changes and is never linear, but this is so strange to me. I’ve been speaking proudly about Aria for months, why am I suddenly choking on my words and unable to hold back tears? It feels like I’m back at the beginning.

I also seem to be more triggered by random moments than I was just a few weeks ago. I’m fighting the urge to crawl back into my shell, because I know it’s important to work through this, but hiding always sounds so much safer.

I wonder if it’s because I know where I was just one year ago, deeply entrenched in an intense battle to save my unborn daughter’s life, and knowing the one year anniversary of her birth and death is just six weeks away. Walking through this time of year all over again, only without my little girl, brings me a feeling I can’t really explain in words.

And maybe the upcoming holidays have something to do with it as well. I have always adored this time of year. The lights, the glittering trees covered in ornaments, the Christmas music that’s always playing in the background. But there’s a bitterness to it now, and while I understand it, I also resent that grief has taken the innocence from so many of the things I once loved.

The strange thing is that despite all of this, life has still been so wonderfully good. Brian and I had such a joyous weekend together, despite spending a few moments in tears on Saturday. I’m also very excited to see my family for Thanksgiving this week. I have so much to look forward to, and that is such a gift. So while it feels like I’ve taken steps back in some places, I can still feel this slight forward shift in my life.

I often hear that even though you will grieve for the rest of your life, the first year is usually the hardest. We’re nearing the end of that first year, and I can’t help but wonder how the second year of grief will feel. Will it be lighter? Will it bring joy without guilt? Time will only tell.

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Goodbye, Golden.

Today, as I was scrolling through my news feed on Facebook, I saw a post in my neighborhood’s Facebook group. A woman shared a photo of a dog who looked close to death, and said where he was located but that she couldn’t stop to help him. I don’t know what came over me but without even a second thought, I was grabbing all the dog friendly food I could find in my kitchen, and driving to him.

When I arrived, I sincerely thought I was too late. He laid totally lifeless and as I approached him, he didn’t move. But as soon as I called out, “Puppy!” He perked up and looked up at me. My heart sank, his poor eyes were so full of infection that I’m still not certain he could see. I started trying to coax him with food and gain his trust but he was just so skittish. He would let me get about a foot away from him, but quickly retreated as I moved closer. I felt so bad for him, his beautiful fluffy coat was full of dirt, and he was very emaciated. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t get him on a leash because he wouldn’t let me near him, and I didn’t want to be too aggressive because we were on the side of a busy road and I feared he would get hit by a car.

Another good Samaritan saw the Facebook post, and came to help but it was no use. We weren’t professionals, and all of our best attempts only seemed to scare him even more. So we agreed it was best to call animal control. By the time they came for him, several hours later, the sweet dog had passed away.

I’m not sure why, but he wrecked my heart. I wanted so badly to save him. I wanted to get him out of there, bathe him, and save him.

And as different as these two events are, it brings up so many of the things I felt when we lost Aria. At the core, they are both two souls in sickly bodies that I just could not save. It’s a really tough thing to process both mentally and emotionally.

But recently, I made the decision to stop guarding my heart so fiercely. Instead I opted to love as freely as I could because even when I face heartbreak, I never regret the love I gave.

So to that sweet golden dog who let me love him for such a brief moment, thank you. I sincerely hope you’re roaming green pastures somewhere.

Ten months of grief and love

Over the last ten months, my grief has transformed in countless ways. It has shaped and molded me. Grief has made me feel both incredibly uncomfortable and totally safe at the same time. It’s tough to explain, sometimes I crave the overwhelming agony of grief, and sometimes I just want to be rid of the heartache.

It is really hard not to equate the agony of my grief to the love I carry for Aria. I often feel the most assured in my worth as a mother when I am in complete despair. I suppose it is because I often wonder how I could possibly go on without someone I love this much. If I’m not crying, does that mean I don’t love as deeply as I thought? The rational part of my brain screams that isn’t true, but the part that has been scarred by grief still isn’t convinced.

Today, I’m feeling relief from a lot of the pain I have felt for the last ten months. I’m not sure how I feel about it to be honest with you. It makes me feel numb, but only because I’m not accustomed to feeling so close to normal. I had gotten used to the intensity of grief. It had become my comfort zone. Strangely, moving through it is the thing that scares me most. I don’t want to move on, and I don’t want to forget the little girl who made me a mom.

I know a lot of this guilt and fear is connected to how distracted I have been for the last four weeks. I haven’t had as much time to saturate myself in Aria’s memory, and it makes me feel distant from her. But I know that just as I have many times before, I’ll relearn how to balance it all and find comfort once more.