Monday, December 10, 2007

Do I look different?

In this new life I am living, I go out into the world everyday and do my "supposed to's". But everywhere I go there is this background music in my head, every conversation I have I hear it, every person I am with, I wonder do they know? It never stops.

"Can't you see my baby is dead???"

My mom has a good friend from grade school who had a stillborn baby girl at term, just a few months before I was born. This was many (ok truth time, 40) years ago. I always remember thinking as a child that she had the saddest eyes. There was something missing, something I could never wrap my little girl brain around, but I knew it was awful. I have this memory of her playing her guitar and singing to me and all of the other kids from our "river group" who vacationed together on the Arizona shores. She sang lots of songs, but the one I remember is "Puff the Magic Dragon". I can see her sitting on the dock by the river, with her guitar on a warm summer night and I can hear her singing and I can remember thinking, there is something about her that is different.

I don't know when I found out about her baby girl, I only know that when my mom was with me after Caleb died she started talking about it as if I didn't know, but I did. So maybe I overheard something over the years or maybe my mom forgot that she had told me, I am not sure. What I do know is that my mom and her friends NEVER talk about it with their friend who went thru it, and since they only talk about it as the "baby girl" she lost, I can only try to imagine how completely alone and devestated she was and is, since she obviously never had the opportunity to name her daughter, never felt she could talk about her and was left to survive this loss alone. My mom told me that she and another one of her girlfriends were talking about how horrible it had been for their friend to lose her daughter and then talking about my Caleb and wondering how you live with it and my mom's friend said, "I don't think she ever got over it." My mom, (I love you mom even tho you'll never see this) told her, how would you ever get over losing your child???

I have another friend who shared with me after Caleb died that her mother had lost a son, her brother, at term. She told me that when it happened, the nurses threw a towel over her mother's face, delivered the baby and told her mother not to look, it was better if she just forgot about the whole thing. Jesus f'ing Christ..are you kidding me?????????????????????
Her mother, this year, 40 some years later, put up a gravestone, for her baby son. She told me that her mom told her that for the first time in her life since the baby died she felt like she had finally found peace. She had been able to acknowledge that he had been here. And that he mattered.

I got to name my baby, we got to see him, hold him, love him, miss him openly....at least for a while. And yet everyday, I go out in the world and I do my 'supposed to's' and I think, "Do I look different?' "Can't you see my baby is dead?"


2 comments:

C. said...

The thing is, we are still left to grieve alone. I strongly believe there is an expiration date set on our grief. Most people, even those that love and care for us the most, want us to feel some reprieve from this. That I know, is an impossibility. I will never be free of this pain and hurt and in time, many will grow tired and impatient with this. At least we get to hold our silent babies, acknowledge them, name them, hold them. I know the moms before us never had this opportunity. In the end, though, I feel we are all alone in this; it is a lonely grief. I wonder, as you do, whether people can see that in me. Whether I carry a hidden sadness that can be seen by all, whether they know of my tragedy or not.

Coggy said...

In some respects that's why I didn't want to go back to work, well to the same job anyway. I just constantly have the thought "I have a dead baby" running through my head. The problem with going back to my original job is I'm aware a lot of people have the corresponding "she has a dead baby" thought running through theirs.
I think I said on Ashleighs post recently, we should have T-shirts made.
To the rest of the world we really just look the same. In some ways I find that comforting because I never know whether the woman I've just walked past in the street also has the same constant phrase running through her head. Sometimes when I feel a bit of a freak I chose to assume she feels the same too.