Almost three and a half years ago I was thrown into the world of the grieving parent. At the time, I was in a highly alert state, taking words that were said to me and dissecting them one by one. Sometimes people said things that I found confusing, and maybe even hurtful. I started reading…
I sailed back this month. I sailed back to five years ago, the time leading up to, during, and after I lost my first baby, my son, Marco. While I think of Marco every day, as I carry him in my heart, I don’t really sail back in time too often. It’s too painful.
Although I could certainly improve, I am trying very hard at the moment to live in my NOW. It’s been quite a journey over the last five years to get to this point. My now today is much different than my now five years ago today.
Five years ago, my now was just eight days after I had lost Marco. My now was filled with sadness and darkness. It tasted like salt from all of my tears. It felt heavy from the baby weight I was carrying with no baby to show. It hurt from my abdominal incision that was healing. It was loud with silence. Did you even think that silence could be loud? So loud.
It was hard to stay in that now. I can’t blame myself, or any other bereaved parent for wanting far away from the now right after their loss. Your mind sails back to the moments, days, weeks, months, and even years before you lost your baby. What were those days like? You remember them. You know. What was it like to dream about this pregnancy? What was it like the last day that everything was “perfect” during your pregnancy? What was it like the day your world crumbled? You remember it all, and you drift back to all of those times on your sailboat so that you can relive them.
During those early days, the wind blows you around. It not only blows you to your past, but also your future. Your future. Your future that should have been filled with diapers and bottles. Your future that should have been filled with the life that your baby would have lived, and the life that you would have lived as his parent. You drift to that future of which you had dreamed. Then you drift to the harsh reality of your future. The harsh reality that the baby who was to fill those diapers and drink those bottles will never live the life you had dreamed he would. You sail so much in fact, that at the end of it all, you’re left feeling lost and seasick. You don’t know where you are, and you don’t know how to move forward, creating your new normal, your new now.
My sailboat now stays docked in my harbor. When I need to, I hop on it and lift the anchor. I sail away. I sail back to the 22 weeks of bliss, five weeks of testing, two weeks of bed rest, and four hours of life that we shared with Marco. I sail back to the days following, and the despair that ensued. I remember the hope that was still there, among it all, hanging on by the slightest of threads. The hope that never went away and that is still there, ever-present, rooting for another baby, fighting my fear, keeping me on the ground.
Today, my now is filled with light that shines from Marco. It’s filled with the purest joy in the amazement of Marco’s three-year-old little sister, Lucia, who is here, in the flesh, upstairs right now fighting sleep, up way past her bedtime. Today I don’t want to miss a moment of my now, so as not to take it for granted.
Today, Marco fills up my heart. He whispers softly into my ear that it’s okay to not get on that sailboat more often, and that it’s also okay to go there when I need. He reminds me to stay calm and centered when I feel fearful, when I feel like I’m stepping away from my now too often.
Because I’m more in my now today, it allows me to step onto the sailboat when I need with more awareness and mindfulness. I choose when to go there, rather than mindlessly drifting off on a whim.
This September, I knew I had to set sail. I set sail to those last weeks that Marco was alive in my womb, safe from the unknown condition that claimed his life, while I was camped out in a hospital room. I set sail to the sponge bath that we gave him, and the love that shone while he peaceful passed away in his mommy and daddy’s arms. I set sail to my quiet weeks on maternity leave, and the months that followed.
And then, because I allowed myself to mindfully sail back in time, I was able to return on my boat, calmly anchor it, and step off. I was able to return to my now, and to appreciate it that much more.
Friend, I know that the now of the early days after your loss are dark and scary. Know that you will get through them. You’ll sail from past to future as you need. It will be frequent in the beginning, and that’s okay. That’s how you get by. But then, before you know it, you will find control of the sails, and you will learn to anchor your boat. You will live more in your now and will choose when you need to drift away for a moment and sail back.