Thanksgiving is over - just like that, and now we move on to Christmas. The holiday season always seems to be so rushed and overwhelmed, but this year even more so. My husband and I host Thanksgiving each year and this year was no different, even though I questioned whether it would be a good idea or not. I had my moments, for sure, but overall I think I needed to stay extremely busy that day in an effort to not fall apart.
That morning the turkey that I had purchased fresh was now partially frozen. I scrambled trying to figure out how I was going to get it thawed in time, go to church and still make sure that dinner would be ready around the time I told everyone we would be eating. I did what came naturally - I called my mom. I needed advice, and it was about the third time I had called her in the past day or so - "How many pounds of potatoes do you think I need?" "Should I put this turkey in warm or cold water to thaw?" "Can you bring me this? I forgot to get it at the store." You get the drill.
When I hung up that morning, already full of emotion, I couldn't help but cry. Olive would never need me like this. She would never host Thanksgiving at her house. I'd never get a frantic phone call wondering if the turkey would be done, if she had the right ingredients for something or be able to reassure her that everything would be perfect.
The day brought many moments like that. Having my newborn nephew in the house felt strange at times. He is the first baby to come to our home since losing Olive - it felt natural and unnatural having him there - I longed to hold him and then when I would my heart would feel heavy. We put together these fantastic care packages for families who will be spending their holidays in the NICU this year - but even as good as it was to help it still didn't change the fact that I'd rather have my daughter here.
Later that weekend we dragged out all of the decorations and began trimming the house for Christmas. When did it become December? How can it be that 4 months have already passed? One would think that grieving gets easier with time - but I've found the exact opposite to be true. In two days time I have successfully decorated my house for the holidays, packed up the rest of the nursery, gotten invited to my first baby shower since attending my own, been asked (for the first time) if I have children and later today I'm attending bible study where a woman and her baby (born the exact day as Olive) will attend as well. Talk about an emotional rollercoaster.
The difficult part is how I feel about all of this. My house has never felt emptier, I have no idea what gift to buy off the registry - especially since I just packed similar things away just days ago, had to make a stranger feel awful when I told her I had a daughter in heaven and have no idea what emotions will trigger when I see a baby that is the exact age my daughter should be today. Do I run away? Do I not go to any of these things? Some days I dream of just waking up and buying a ticket to anywhere - packing my bags and just leaving. The problem is that though I may physically leave, I still carry my brain and all it's baggage wherever I go. So I face it - head on..
And it sucks.
In the words of my friend Missie, "major suckfest".
So, here I am this morning - a typical Tuesday for most - but one that I'm trying not to let debilitate me. Every day is like this - not knowing the challenges of the day, what twists and turns will come - will it be a good day or a rough day? I'm sure this is all a normal part of the grieving process, and I don't share these things for sympathy or to make anyone else feel badly about something they say or do around me. I share these things because that's what I said I was going to do when I started this blog. I share because it's how I'm feeling - and even though you may not know what to do or say to make me feel better - it's OK. It's not your job to make me feel better, but it is my job to face each new day and anything that it brings. Life still goes on - baby showers occur, babies are born and I get asked simple and polite questions about whether or not I have children.
Some days I face it well and some days I don't - I just ask that you be patient with me and understand that it's all a part of the life I'm facing. I try and live it gracefully - but then I have nights like last night where I sit and cry in a McDonald's parking lot over French fries and a coke (after a workout - don't judge). One minute at a time turns to one hour at a time which turns to one day at a time.
Go to sleep, wake up, repeat.
I know there are brighter days ahead, I truly believe that. Heck, I've even experienced some of those days - but the holidays - the holidays are going to be hard, much harder than I think I even anticipated. Think of this post as a head's up of sorts - just know that my heart is broken and there is no amount of holiday cheer that can unbreak it. I know many of you will try - and for that I am eternally grateful, but please know that the best thing you can do for me this holiday is just let me feel what I need to feel. There are bound to be awkward moments, emotional moments and maybe even angry moments. I don't know how to do this - or do it well - but I'm trying.
And some days trying is just surviving.