Monday, April 6, 2015

The Joy and the Sorrow Intertwined

I think part of the new normal is that I can't feel happy without also feeling sad.

The sorrow can exist without the joy.  But the joy?  It's always laced with sorrow now.  Because even in our happy moments, our lives should look different than they do.  Even when I'm smiling or laughing, the grief is sitting on my chest, threatening my ability to breathe.  Every moment, I'm missing Lydia and the way our lives should be.

On Saturday, Benjamin turned two.

A year ago on his birthday, I felt all sentimental and sappy.  All day long, I thought about being in labor with him, and what was going on at that moment in time a year ago.  I felt sad that my baby was turning into a toddler and it was all happening so fast.  What I didn't know yet is that I was pregnant with Lydie.

This year on Ben's birthday, I felt mostly tired.  It's been a long year.  Of course, I felt a bit sentimental too.  For so long when I was pregnant with Lydie and envisioned my life with a baby and a toddler, I wanted him to be independent.  But now that he refuses to let me help him put on his boots or even his pants ("No Mama, my do it"), it hurts my heart a bit. 

When were tucking him in the night before his birthday, Justin and I stood over his crib, saying, "Good night, one-year-old!"  We probably lingered there an extra minute, because Ben looked at us like we were crazy and said, "Bye-bye!" while waving.  We laughed.

But those laughs?  They're not pure the way they used to be.  They're full of aching.  Every funny moment we share with Ben is a reminder that we won't have those moments with his sister. 

We kept Ben's birthday low-key.  I don't have a party in me these days.  But I did want my boy to have a good day.  His Oma Jo and Pop-Pop came to celebrate with us, and there was singing and cake and ice cream and presents.

And there was the missing of his sister.

It's constant, it's ever-present, and it's even stronger during these happy moments.

Like taking this "family picture." 

What you probably wouldn't notice is Ben is holding Lydie's stone.  Justin should guest-post one day here, but long story short:  Justin bought Lydie a red heart-shaped stone that says "love" on it for Christmas.  It was under the tree, marked with her name.  On Christmas, Justin unwrapped it and it has stayed in his pocket ever since. (Except Benji tries to steal it whenever he can). 

So we're representing Lydie here, because that's important to us.  Because although we're smiling, we are so aware that this picture is incomplete.   And our hearts hurt constantly.

I posted a photo of Ben on Facebook and on Instagram.  It got 118 likes and 29 comments on Facebook, but not one person mentioned his sister.  On Instagram, where I've connected with many of my fellow BLMs, one friend wished Benjamin a happy birthday and wished his sister was here to steal some of his thunder.  Another friend commented that all boys must have a construction-themed birthday, and don't we wish we got to cross our girl themes off our list too?

That may sum up why I need these women in my life.  I didn't have to tell them what hides behind the smiles.  I didn't have to explain to them that the sorrow is intertwined with the joy.

And Ben's sister did steal a bit of his thunder, in a way.  We spent the afternoon preparing her garden.  More on that to come, but I'm looking forward to having a spot in our yard dedicated to our girl.  It seems like the perfect backdrop for family photos.

It's been five months today.  And Lydie, we love and miss you more than ever.


  1. When I'm particularly moved or the weight of the emotion feels so big I can't find the chink in which to even start commenting on what precipitated it, I often just don't comment at all. Shut down, do something brainless instead. But I just gotta get out at least a few sentences here.

    The big emotion is how familiar your pain is, and how fresh mine feels still, in a way (except that it isn't and when I think of 5 months out I know it isn't…but there's a special layer of pain that exists because the original pain still hurts so badly. And there's no end in sight. And you can't see how you won't feel like this forever).

    How back then I HATED that 5 whole months had passed and the juxtaposition of how that's no time at all in Grief World but Real World got a lot done in 5 months and would likely be starting to have some real expectations about my recovery pretty soon. Five months. She would really be moving out of newborn now. Rolling over. Such change when comparing her 5 month pictures to newborn and 1-2 month pics. A hundred priceless photos of she and her brother. Easter pictures with her on his lap, or propped up next to him in their finery. Birthday pics - stealing a little of his thunder just because she exists.

    I just find tears streaming as I let myself feel - for you, for me. I actually read your IG post with the beautiful daffodils, stood there for about 15 seconds taking in the 5 months and the pain exuding from your post…and put the phone down because I just couldn't. Couldn't find my way through the hugeness nor the weight of the feelings to find words remotely adequate. Then I came here. So please consider this my response to your IG post too.

    I'm honored to have been a part of your post in the manner I was included, and have a pretty good guess who made the other comment.

    I'm so glad you included Lydie and her stone in your family picture. Though the story about Justin buying it for her for Christmas and keeping it in his pocket rips me open. Before I read what you wrote about the picture I was studying it, marveling at how NORMAL you both look. Happy even.
    It's these times when I get a glimpse of how how hard it is for non-babyloss people to 'get it', as it were. I mean, if I can hardly tell your souls are still shredded, how could they possibly?! I know only because I KNOW.

    Lastly, the idea of taking pictures in front of Lydie's garden someday gave me this image of a pink wave, cloud like (very much akin to what wands do in Disney princess movies when spells are happening). For real. I think her garden will be magical.

  2. We created a garden for Cale and it was very therapudic for me. I need to work on his space at out new home.

    I love that Justin bought that stone and would love to see a close up picture of it.


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