Life After Loss: A Turbulent Ocean
When I came home from the hospital, it really bothered me when people would say “You are so strong! I can’t imagine what you are going through.” No, they couldn’t. And I didn’t want them to.
I didn’t feel strong. I felt like when my twins died, I went with them.
Other times, I realized I had in fact NOT gone with them but wished I had.
Days have turned into months and months have turned into years. It no longer bothers me when people say I am strong.
Because I am strong.
This is something I didn’t realize until I went through the unthinkable.
For the past almost 3 years, I have weathered a turbulent ocean. I have clung to what has seemed like the tiniest raft, slowly deflating while I slowly sink. I have battled waves crashing over my head, and I have fought and come up for air, choking for just one more breath, just one more chance. I have been through hell, and I have come out the other side.
This is not to say being strong hasn’t been hard.
I have fought back tears in work meetings. I have pulled over in tears while driving. I have attended birthday parties, anniversary dinners, plays, baseball games, and even a baby shower. I have excused myself to the restroom so I could sit on toilets and sob. I have wiped my eyes and gone back to the party more times than I can count.
There are also times that I didn’t. I have responded “No” to events I wanted to attend more than anything. I knew that it was not best for me at the time, so I had to say no. There are times I put on my PJs and binge-watched “The Golden Girls.” I have surprised myself by attending some events, and I have cried in my room when I had to cancel others because I knew I needed space.
I didn’t choose to be strong. I didn’t choose any of this.
Some mornings I wake up and want to pull the covers over my head. Some mornings I wake up, get a cup of coffee and push myself out into a world that can hurt me — a world that WILL hurt me. I know this because it has. But I will not give it power.
I will find the sun when the shadows threaten to cover me. I will get up and try my best to put one foot in front of the other. I won’t always be successful. Some days I will end up in my PJs again, needing some space, needing to grieve. And that is ok.
That is my strength. That is OUR strength. Every time a wave comes back, as I know it will, I will swim. I may gasp for air, I may need to doggie paddle my way out of the current, and I may swallow copious amounts of seawater. But I know that I am stronger than the wave.
One morning, the sun will come out, and I will be floating on my back, looking at the sun and marveling at the tiny, deflating raft — we are both still here.
Photo by: Viktor Jakovlev/Unsplash