A’s birthday is nearly here. As in years past, I start to get weepy and emotional as soon as the weather changes and it begins to feel like fall. Then, October arrives and I withdraw into myself.
Right now, things are very similar to the weeks right after A died. I am lethargic, unmotivated, grumpy and very fragile. I feel utterly drained. Today, I literally laid on the couch while Dragon brought toys and books over to me; climbing atop and over me. I just didn’t have the energy to play. Poor girl. What will she think of this annual unraveling?
We put her to bed and I crash onto the couch watching mindless television until we head to bed ourselves. (This was our tactic in the early weeks to distract our minds from the stinging reality.) But, as it always is, I cannot fall asleep. Instead, my brain plays flashbacks of A’s days over and over. I berate myself for not having kissed him more, for ever having laid him back in the isolette; why didn’t I hold him the entire fucking time?!
I have learned from past years and so this year I took offof work the entire birthday week. I am incapacitated. I’m barely functioning and facing my son’s third birthday makes most other things completely insignificant. There is no way I’m able to focus on work. Plus, the breakdowns are coming more frequently. You know how it is, puttering along washing dishes or something and then you just can’t suppress it. The tears come, you collapse, body shuddering with sobs. Eventually, you pull yourself together, gather the pile of wet tissues and try to get on with the day.
Also as in the early days, I’m avoiding going out in public. It is so incredibly uncomfortable and downright frightening. It isn’t just that I’m extra fragile right now and could have a meltdown at any moment. But it is more clear this time of year that I do not belong; that I am very broken. I do not know how to navigate social situations anymore and attempting to do so is very taxing to my already low energy stores. If it weren’t for Dragon, I’d stay in the house the entire week. Well, there is an exception. This year I planned ahead and scheduled some self-care by way of a massage. Though it gave me anxiety to go out in public and put my vulnerable self up on the table, it was totally worth it. Like all the chocolate I’ve been eating, it didn’t relieve my pain and sorrow, but I did feel more grounded afterward and definitely more relaxed.
New this year was the stay-super-busy-so-you-don’t-have-time-to-think strategy. It started subconsciously but I quickly realized what was going on. I packed my days full of chores, projects and the like. Much more so than the usual crazy multitasking that goes on around here. At the end of a ridiculously busy (and productive) day, I was beat and fell into bed only to get on the hamster wheel again in the morning. If there wasn’t any down time then my mind couldn’t register the anguish within, couldn’t notice that it was nearly October, couldn’t redirect my attention to the heartwrenching reality that we live in. This technique, of course, is only effective temporarily because inevitably all of those things do creep in. And, as noted above, eventually the grief becomes crippling and despite those lingering to-do lists, I am, essentially, in a catatonic state.
E, per usual, has stepped up as I have fallen apart. He picks up the slack around the house and tends to Dragon. He is extra supportive and always asks what I need. I find that I avoid making eye contact with him; the second I do, I devolve into tears; because he is my rock, because he is hurting just as badly as I am, because we are in this together and it is so fucking intense.
In the coming days I am trying to set aside time to let the tears flow and the rage run. I will sit down and go through A’s album again and again. I will go through his box of stuff. I will read the sympathy cards I saved from three years ago. I will cradle, kiss and talk to his miniature urn. I will carefully remove his hair from the envelope that houses it and roll the downy softness between my fingers; sniffing it in hopes of catching a whiff of my baby boy, before meticulously putting it away. I will read his little sister the book, Someone Came Before You which chokes me up every time and we only read on special occasions and holidays. I will curl up on the ground and bawl and howl. I will write to A. I will do all of these things because this is how I know to grieve and although the day-to-day functioning is easier than it was three years ago, the pain, agony and longing are as intense as they ever were.