Life In Plastic, It's Fantastic

With thanks from Aqua. The song is called Barbie Girl. I remember it very vaguely from University or maybe even high school. I was laying awake again last night, thinking as this song ran through my head. One of the things that I struggle with these days is the loss of my privacy. I think a few of you may have noticed that I'm an extrovert. But, here's the thing about being an extrovert - you control what people see of you. I project. I'm not so much an extrovert as an actress. I use my extrovert tendencies to control what people see of me. I can define who I am, and to some extent how people respond to me, using my personality.

So, the weekend of the baptisms, when I left the sanctuary, sobbing, I was horrified. I don't cry in public. Honestly, I'm not much of a crier at all. One of the hard parts of grief is that I can't control what people see of me. I am overwhelmed by grief, and there simply is no hiding it. I am not the person who is good at her job, or is a good cook, or has red hair, I am one half of the "dead baby couple" as Mr. Spit calls us.

There is no privacy. I am visible. People I don't know, know about Gabriel. They aren't gossiping, they aren't telling rumours, but we are that couple that has had the horrible thing happen to us. We are marked. The "dead baby couple". And we are watched. I can see women look at me, as a child goes past me. I saw their pitying eyes during the baptism. I saw their looks when I first came back to work - a stomach too flat, and no explanation at hand. I see the look when I tell then. A glance at an empty womb, that doesn't quite return to my eyes. They stammer. They don't know what to say.

Now is probably more painful, because I am ever aware that Gabriel would have been here by now. So is everyone else. I was in an elevator moments ago:

"How do you like burning the candle at both ends?"
"Well, up all night with a baby, and then at work all day."
Oh, you haven't heard. My baby was born premature in December, and he died.

I tell people - "It's ok" when they apologize. I tell them that we are carrying on. I'm optimistic about trying again. I emphasize how thankful I am that Gabriel had half an hour with us. I try to change the subject when I think that people I don't know well are going to talk about Gabriel.

I see it's getting better. I believe that I am improving. I have meetings, I go to work, I volunteer, I live life. I tell people that Gabriel died, while I'm in the elevator. I do it with sadness in my eyes, but my tone is matter of fact. Short words. Carefully created sentences.

I don't tell them I would give my very life to be up all night. I don't suggest that maybe they could go ask someone else why I'm back, and leave me the hell alone. I don't scream at them about Canada's yearlong maternity leave program. I don't ask who they know that doesn't take the entire year off. I don’t ask where their brain is. And especially, I don't sit and cry in the elevator. I get off, walk into my meeting, and carry on with the business at hand.

I'm not so sure I really have any other choice.

Mostly, I think "What do you want me to tell you - my baby is still dead. My life sucked yesterday, it sucks today, and it's quite likely to suck for some time. Not forever, and it's no longer the worst sucking feeling in the world, but really, what do you expect?” And I'm not sure how much to tell people. I tell the blog everything. My reason for beginning was to write down these feelings.

The rest of the world? Do they really want to hear that I hurt? That doesn't change from day to day. There isn't any 'new' news. I still miss him. I'm still going to work, I'm still coming home. I'm still making dinner, and doing housework. Do you want to hear about how angry I am? Do you want to know what this pain is really like? Do you want me to tell you that I didn’t want to get up yesterday. I didn’t want to get up today, and tomorrow I likely won’t want to get up either.

The sadness is not all encompassing, but it's my shadow. Describe it as my great sorrow. Not great in size but great in the length of time it will be with me. I am sad. Not weeping, not wailing, not sobbing, not always visibly sad. But I am sad. And I hide some of it. It’s too hard to explain to people who don’t live in a place where they have grieved deeply the loss of something precious. I have no desire to educate people about what grief is like, I’m too busy living it. So I don’t necessarily bring everyone into it. I think, maybe they think I’m ok. Maybe they think I have bounced back.

And that isn't necessarily the impression I want to leave people. I want people to know that I am still broken. That those words in the elevator will stay with me. A thoughtless world can wound for days. The sight of a new baby can take my breath away. And the reminder that I make others uncomfortable, makes me want to curl up. Life in plastic, it's fantastic.

thanks for the many kind words yesterday - the many ways that you affirmed that anger is a normal part of grieving. I needed to hear it. There's still an angry woman inside of me, but I discovered that after a particularly bad day, Marble Slab cheesecake ice cream will soothe her just a bit.