Today I did something I’ve been avoiding for the last 5 weeks: organized and uploaded the photos I took in the weeks before I had Zoe through now. Not that there were many–I’ve taken zero photos of the kids between Zoe’s passing and now (minus Easter). It just feels wrong to show what’s happening in J’s and C’s lives when Zoe isn’t here to have her life documented. And I hate looking at the “before” pictures from the last few weeks. Before everything went to shit. Back when we were happy and excited and talking about all of the ways our lives were going to change once we had a third kid. When we went to the Great Wolf Lodge for a weekend as a last hurrah as a family of four (there’s $200 we could’ve saved). I especially hate looking at photos of me when I was pregnant. I was searching for a picture on my computer from our trip to Jamaica back in October and was completely caught off guard by my big pregnant belly. My heart dropped all the way down to my heels and I felt nauseous. How could I have forgotten that I was pregnant while we were there? How is it I don’t have anything to show for those 9 months? The memory of that trip will always be tainted. How will I be able to scrapbook those memories? And my sister’s bachelorette/bridal shower? Her wedding? This past Christmas? An entire nine months of memories that I don’t want to acknowledge because I won’t be able to look at a picture of myself from those times and not miss Zoe. Not that I don’t miss her constantly now, but I’m thinking about a year, two years, ten years down the road when she’s not on my mind constantly. I don’t want to look at those photos and be caught off guard like I was the other day. I hate that those nine months of my life and everything we saw and did during that time will always be associated with sad thoughts.
I’ve been thinking about grief a lot lately. One of my best friends lost her mother three years ago and her dad last year. Another friend lost her husband last year. I lost my mother when I was 16. A thought struck me the other day that has been on my mind constantly since then–that I’m lucky. I feel like my situation is easier to “get over”. Especially because Zoe was so young. We never even brought her home. So I “just” have to deal with how unfair and wrong it all is that such a small innocent being was taken before she got a chance to live. And the unanswered questions about her life and what she would’ve been like. It’s a lot different than trying to survive after losing a spouse or parents. Someone that you saw and/or talked to every single day, shared every single thing with. That you would tell the insignificant details of your day. Go to bed with, call when something happened, share all of your moments with, big or small. Someone who is so ingrained in your life that you have to relearn how to do everything without them. Instead of thinking and deal with what “should have been” after the loss of an infant, it’s the “always has been” after the loss of a spouse or best friend or parent.
Or if we had brought her home and she passed away from SIDS or some other awful disease. If we would’ve had a chance to get used to her presence in the house, to expect to hear her cries and experience sleepless nights and have all of the baby paraphernalia out (which the amount seems to grow less and less with each child. It’s amazing what is actually a necessity with a baby, haha!). I would have to get rid of all of the outfits that she wore because I wouldn’t be able to see a future child wearing them. Just like the shirts Jeff and I were wearing on the day she passed away immediately went into the Goodwill pile after we got home. For her to be in our lives in a normal baby way, not just only being in the NICU. That would make everything all the more difficult to come to terms with.
Or, even worse, losing a child. Not an infant, but a kid C or J’s age. Or older or younger. I honestly don’t know if I would be able to get through it if something happened to either one of them tomorrow. They are both so entrenched in my life, a part of every single thing I do, that their death would be something that I would never truly be able to get over. It would take me years to function normally. I can’t even breathe thinking about something like that happening. I can’t think about something like that happening. Especially now.
My heart goes out to all of the families that have experienced something similar to what we have. Especially those who had to go through this not just once but twice or, God forbid, even more times. And especially to those who lost a child. That has always been unthinkable to me, but even more so now. Those are the courageous people. They’re the ones who deserve our thoughts and prayers and help. Because there is nothing worse than the death of a child. Losing J or C is unfathomable.
I hope I’m explaining myself right. I am not saying in anyway that I’m glad that Zoe died. Or that I’m happy it was her and not Jordan or Carter or Jeff. Or that it’s good that we never got the chance to bring her home or watch her grow before this happened to her. Because I would trade it all for her to have had a week, a month, a year, a decade with us before being taken away. For her to at least have had a chance at life. To see what kind of personality she would have, what she would look like. To make memories with her. I’m just saying that although the unfairness and wrongness of her death is so much worse than someone who is older, I think I’m able to process the grief and “get over it” (Ha! As if there’s such a thing.) “easier” than if it was someone I saw and talked to every single day, someone who was already a huge part of my daily life. I hate that we never got a chance to bring her home, to see her grow, to get to know her…but at the same time it’s a blessing in disguise for my sanity.
But I would trade that sanity for more time with her. In a heartbeat.