Monday, April 25, 2016

Compartmentalizing my grief

I have lots of playlists on my Iphone.  They hold names like "Running Girl" and "Summer" and "Sunday morning chill."  And names like "Benjamin," "Bowie," and "Lydie."

Benjamin's is full of kids' songs.  The Wheels on the Bus, We are the Dinosaurs, and the Frozen soundtrack (which I think I might enjoy more than he does).  He often requests the "emergency" song from Thomas on the way to school.

Bowie's is a mix of songs that helped me deal with the anxiety of her pregnancy, like The Lumineers' "Big Parade" with the lyric "lovely girl, won't you stay?  Won't you stay, stay with me?" and Sara Bareilles lyric, "Show me how big your brave is!" I blared that one, often on the way to my many doctor's appointments.  It's been updated since she was born to include two songs entitled Josephine, by the Wallflowers and Brandi Carlile.

And Lydie's.  Lydie's is full of grief songs, with songs like "If I Die Young," with the lyric, "Ain't even gray, but she buries her baby," Godspeed with the lyric "my love will fly to you each night on angel's wings," and Photograph in which Ed Sheeran sings "[love] is the only thing we take with us when we die."  This list is constantly being updated, as I find new songs that make me connect with my first daughter, like the most recent addition of "Cecelia and the Satellite" that includes the lyric "for all the things my hands have held, the best by far is you."

There's a few on Lydie's list that I can't listen to if I'm not prepared.  They can be triggers when I'm caught off guard.  The other day, as I walked back downstairs after responding to Benjamin's bedtime wailing, Justin quickly turned off Pandora.  I realized "November Blue" by the Avett Brothers had been playing.  I would have called it my very favorite song before November 5th, but I haven't been able to listen to it much since then.  "If I told you I loved you, would it change what you see?  If I was staying, would you stay with me?  My heart is dancing to a November tune.  I hope that you hear it, singing songs about you.  I sing songs of sorrow, because you're not around.... November shadows shade November change.  November spells sweet memory, the season blue remains."

I don't play Lydie's playlist when I'm not prepared.

But sometimes, I need my space to grieve.  With Benjamin and Josephine at home, I don't have much time to myself.  And I don't have much time to actively grieve Lydie.  So sometimes, on the way to work, on my 30 minutes to myself on the highway, I intentionally play those songs.  I play Pink's "Beam Me Up," which is sure to bring the tears.  And I sing "There's a whole other conversation going on, in a parallel universe.  Where nothing breaks and nothing hurts.  There's a waltz playing frozen in time, blades of grass on tiny bare feet.  I look at you and you're looking at me... Could you beam me up?"  I sing and I cry.

And then I park my car, wipe my eyes, tell my girl I love her, and head into work.

In the early days, this wouldn't have been possible.  It wouldn't have been possible to pick and choose my moments.

I think this is a good thing, but sometimes I miss the raw grief.

I know that just because I can control my emotions better these days doesn't mean I love my girl any less.  I don't miss her any less.  And I certainly don't think of her any less.  The other day I was wondering if I actually think of her more than I think of my living children.

But it seems I have learned to compartmentalize the grief.


  1. I do that too. Listen to my Ellie songs alone in my car, sometimes the same song on repeat and I sing and I cry and long for her. And then I pull up to work and wipe my eyes, take a deep breath and start the day. I don't like having to compartmentalize my grief, but I'm grateful I'm able to. I like being able to have alone time with Ellie, just me and my girl. And I'm glad that you are able to find those moments too.

    1. The car really is the best place for these moments, isn't it? I do more crying in the car than anywhere else.

  2. Geez that "Beam Me Up" song made me cry. I hadn't heard it before. So beautiful.

    I value the times where I can focus on Josie too. I feel closest to her when I am crying. It's weird to look forward to tears. #grieflife

    Love you, fried. This was beautiful.


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