Sunday, December 28, 2008

It's the most ?wonderful? time of the year...

I didn't send out holiday cards this year. Just didn't feel like it. Figured that the annual letter would be pretty much a downer - "hi, had a shitty year, my daughter died. Happy Holidays!" (stick a pencil in my eye) I figured that those that knew about Shannon would probably understand, those that didn't would figure that we didn't care about cards this year and everyone else could just piss off. When I told my mom that I wasn't sending out cards, she said, and I kid you not, "who died?" And I looked at her and said "excuse me?" And then she said, "Oh, Shannon, sorry." Seriously, I cannot make this stuff up.

This Christmas was much harder than I thought it would be. A lot of tears, which I didn't expect. Tears at random TV stuff, tears at stupid holiday specials, tears at dumb music... Instead of thoughts of sugar plums dancing in my head, I re-lived my time in the hospital the day Shannon was born. And I remembered every second of how sad I was. And I really, really missed her alot. Correction - I really, really miss her alot.

I accept that I'll never be over this. I accept that there is an empty place in my heart, and an empty spot in my home, where my little girl should have been. I know that I am not the only mom who knew that, no matter how nice I made this holiday season for my living child, there was a member of our family missing. I didn't buy a special ornament, I'm still considering buying one when I go out today, maybe.

Even after the Thankgiving baby hit and run, my sister has gone incommunicado again, and my parents haven't mentioned a thing about her to me. Other than the holiday card deadbaby gaffe by my mom, there was no mention of Shannon by anyone in my family or my husband's family. It's all very surreal. It's like I spent my entire year down the rabbithole, and no-one even noticed that I was gone.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

10 months

Well, I guess 10 months and a few days, since Shannon died. It's been a weird year. We (I) decided that we were not going to send holiday cards this year, because the thought of writing a holiday letter that is about how much everything sucks after your baby dies seemed to be a bit of a holiday downer. So, I'd rather be a grinch. Because, no matter what, when you have a living child, you can't pretend that there are no holidays. You get excited for them, because, in some ways, your life has moved on in those 10 months since your life turned upside down. And, my life has moved on in many ways.

Except for the fact that I still miss Shannon every day, and wish that there was a different reality where none of this happened and that there was a little girl staring up at our tree, alongside her brother this year.

Shannon - we miss and love you lots. The butterflies are away for the winter, but they'll be back soon.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The lost tribe of Thanksgiving

Last Thanksgiving, I shared with my family the happy news that Shannon was on her way. Well, we all know how that turned out. So, I was particularly worried about going home this Thanksgiving, because it was like returning to the scene of a crime, except that all of the bodies were missing. And it was particularly weird because I was supposed to see my sister, who I hadn't heard from since Shannon died. (there's an earlier blog post about this, but I am too lazy to link right now - I'll do it later). She never called, never wrote, nothing... Then, about a week before Thanksgiving, I get a "sorry I was a thoughtless shit" e-mail apology from her. Ok......

So, what do you do with that? After 9 months, I am supposed to respond with something. So, following the advice of people much more sage than I, I responded with a vanilla "thanks for letting me know. See you next week." What else could I possibly say? After 9 months, I don't think that anyone is entitled to show up when I am doing better and expect me to go back to those deep, dark early days after my loss and revisit my pain for (or with) them because they were too thoughtless to have been there when those dark days were all too real. So, the public face is that I am fine, everything is fine, yes, how sad, Shannon died, yes, it sucks... No, nothing is new with me. Quite a complicated public face, I must say.

But, the true bottom line showed itself at the very end of the day, when goodbyes were being said for my sister's long trip back to the far away place from whence they came. The bombshell, the coup de grace, the true turkey of Thanksgiving and the justification for my belief that I really was hatched from a different family and placed with this one as a joke - my sister is pregnant. Yep, when they were basically walking out the door, this little nugget of *information* was pitched onto my plate. No eye contact, no cushioning, no prefatory language - just there you go. My overbalanced, tenuously stacked, complicated public face had to absorb that one too. And everyone in the house knew it except for me and my husband. Yep, guess the joke was on us. I guess that if I had been wearing anything other than my "everything is fine" poker face, they wouldn't have told me at all. (maybe I would get another e-mail) I get the impression that they waited until the end of the day so they wouldn't have to witness what they assumed would be my super-spectacular nuclear meltdown or blowup, depending on which side of the wall you live on.

No one should ever wonder why parents who have lost a child feel like they don't belong anywhere.