Maybe I said that wrong

Although I felt miserable when I wrote my earlier post and was pitying myself a lot, the response I’ve gotten was not at all what I expected. People apologized – and now I feel guilty for making anyone feel bad.

Yes, it’s hard for me – sometimes – to not be asked how I’m doing or to see generous offers of help for other families who have obvious struggles. But most of the time, I feel pretty great. When those miserable moments come, I do get caught up in a negative mindset and it seems like the world is conspiring against me.

I’ve posted about things that are helpful and unhelpful to say to a grieving parent, and to me specifically. It was pointed out to me that this might suggest that there is a right way to help, and that you can mess up. No one wants to say the wrong thing, so people often stay silent.

Let me clarify: no matter how inadvertently insensitive your remarks might be, I will be so grateful that you said something. I understand that you mean well. Even if you say something horrible, I’ll be glad you said it. Really, truly. It hurts more to have this entire experience be unacknowledged.

Sometime between the ultrasound and Christian’s death, a woman in my ward stopped by to offer support and a small gift. I hadn’t ever met her before, and I appreciated her reaching out to me. I mentioned this in church recently and was surprised at the number of people who echoed, “I was thinking of you. I just didn’t know what to do or say.”

It was in this context specifically that I felt isolated. Because no one was sure what to do, it seemed like no one did anything. (Exaggeration. I had friends and ward members who were very involved and considerate.) And, to be fair, a large part of my misery may just be that I was not privy to the discussions of “How to help Mika” as I am to the discussions about helping other families. So what I perceive as a group effort and shared concern for others might have applied to me just as much.

Anyway. This is also a rambling, incoherent post.

To summarize: I didn’t mean to make anyone feel like they’ve been a bad friend. Sorry.

Also, saying something to me is always better than saying nothing. I promise.


A brief update on feelings

Feelings are dumb.

This week we’ve started looking for a replacement car, since my sweet-but-ugly Suzuki was totaled in November. I went with Jarom to a dealer on Tuesday. We liked the car we drove, but the dealer wasn’t willing to negotiate price, which was disappointing. On the way home the following feelings happened:

Sad. I really wanted that car!
Grouchy. Car dealer, you are dumb.
Frustrated. I hate car shopping. Jarom is now in charge of finding me a car.
Overwhelmed. Last year our car died and our baby died. Why can’t our lives be full of good things? Why do crappy things happen to us?
Bitter. It sucks that Christian died! It sucks a lot! It’s so stupid!
Sad. My baby died. It’s so sad.
Despair. I just want to eat cookies and cry instead of making dinner. But I also don’t want to be lumpy-shaped and my clothes don’t fit and it’s just not fair that Christian died AND I gained a bunch of weight.

It was not a fun drive home. Yeah, I cried. No, it wasn’t really about the car. Thankfully, Jarom is patient and understanding and nice – and he knows when I just want to be left alone with my misery. Eventually I came out of it (though I didn’t end up eating cookies or making dinner), and stopped having those feelings.

Because feelings are dumb.


Do you know what time of year it is? Here, it’s The Week When The Leaves All Fall Off The Chestnut Tree At Once. If you’ve been to our house, you know how enormous the tree is. It has a lot of leaves. And they’re currently all scattered beautifully on our lawn.

Okay, in a way it is beautiful, and I like the idea of just letting them be. Who decided it’s better to have carefully maintained green grass than to let nature go how it goes? I know, I know, social norms dictate that I take care of the landscaping and keep the yard tidy. So I realize that right now, it just looks messy – not carefree and autumn-y.

But aside from the hours of raking involved in getting the lawn cleared, here’s the real reason I’m leaving the leaves: it brings back painful memories.

Last year, the leaves dutifully fell down in the first week of November. Then it snowed, pretty immediately after. I couldn’t really rake when the yard was covered in a few inches of snow. And we left for our Thanksgiving family reunion in Southern California before the snow melted. Once we got back, of course, the snow was gone and our yard looked painfully embarrassingly unkempt. All those leaves!

But by the following week we had sunny weather again, so I got out the rake, bundled up the kids, and spent about 3 hours clearing the leaves.

The problem: it was just a few days after I’d found out I was pregnant. I was more tired than usual, so the fact that I buckled down and raked for hours was noteworthy.

When I think about that afternoon, it feels heartbreakingly naive and innocent. I was excited for a new baby. I was impressed with myself for doing yard work. I had no idea what anguish the coming months would hold.

I thought by this fall, I’d have a baby at home. I’d talk Jarom into raking the leaves because I’d be inside, bouncing a little one or pulling my hair out because the baby just wouldn’t go to sleep.

It seems like I did well in the time between my due date (early August) and the six-month mark of Christian’s death (late October). These days, though, I can’t help but think of what things were like this time last year – so full of hope and excitement. I miss that. I’m sad it ended so tragically. And I don’t want to rake my leaves.