Monday, November 2, 2015

Weeping, Angel, Princess, Dress

I hate crying in public.

And yet, the last several weeks at church, I've been an intermittent leaky spigot. One moment I'll be fine. The next moment I'll have water flowing everywhere. I try to be as inconspicuous as possible, but, seeing as how I'm surrounded by amazing, godly women full of charity and compassion and empathy, it's hard to hide. :(

I've known for years this would be an awful month. You'd think that knowing in advance would help me to prepare, but, sadly, no.

I'm coming up on Marian's 8th birthday, and the grief is hitting hard. I've been in a fog since mid-October. ("It's not supposed to hit me yet!" I kept arguing with myself. "It's only October. It's not supposed to get bad for another two weeks!" To no avail.) Though, predictably, the grief got a lot worse yesterday, on November 1st, at church . . .

I keep thinking about how, if she were here, she'd be attending her first math contest and getting baptized this month. Grandma(s) should be making her a beautiful white dress. She should be dancing around in excitement, negotiating details about the sash, the lace-covered bodice, the hair accessories, the princess look . . .

I've been making all kinds of mental errors: having difficulty prioritizing, organizing, tracking details, communicating coherently. "Impaired executive function," they call it. It's aggravating. When I visited Germany, I kept saying "I'm not an idiot; I just can't talk!" This month, I've been telling myself "I'm not an idiot; I just can't think!"


It hasn't been this bad in years. I'm trying to remember, now, what I did back then to get past the grief. I remember going to the Raleigh book sale and spending all day there as a distraction. I waited until the pain in my feet was worse than the pain anywhere else, and then I went home. What really helped, though, was service. After several weeks of moping about in self-pity, I got sick of feeling that way and decided that I needed to do something -- anything -- else. A wise friend who had also lost a baby said service helped, so I tried it.

I hate cleaning bathrooms. HATE it. (Even worse than I hate crying in public.) But there was a very poor family that was moving, and they needed assistance to get their security deposit back. I volunteered two hours, went to their tiny apartment, and scrubbed their bathroom. Looking around at their bare pantry, their supplies provided by the bishop's storehouse (LDS welfare agency), their meagre belongings, their limited opportunities, their paucity, I began to feel truly grateful for my own blessings again. It helped me get outside myself, and that made me even more thankful.

Baby loss is something everyone sympathizes with; while I don't want to talk about it in person, much, I know people understand. Now I'm trying to imagine someone in the ward who is going through something just as painful -- an unfaithful spouse, addiction, bankruptcy -- but who has no social support. I'm embarrassed at my weepiness, but I'd be even more embarrassed if I learned that I'd been unkind to someone who was suffering just as much, only with more dignity, more secrecy.

The thought that someone could be this -- forgive me for whining, but the word is "miserable" -- only without any support, especially if they don't have the Savior -- that's humbling. (It's even more humbling than realizing the previous sentence is a disaster. Remember what I said about impaired executive function? Even my writing is suffering. Disjointed disjuncture.)


Halloween of 2007, I incorporated my pregnancy into my Halloween costume. Wearing a medieval maternity dress -- I sewed the sleeves myself! -- I announced that I was Anne Boleyn, whose pregnancy had changed history.

Halloween 2007. Jon was Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer.
Eric and Daniel were knights.
I was Anne Boleyn, and Marian was Princess Elizabeth in utero.
At least I got to play dress-up with my princess one time.

I'm trying to be grateful for my blessings. To grieve appropriately but not extravagantly. To increase my compassion for others. To remember that suffering is not a competitive sport.

Just . . . be patient with me.

Anybody need help cleaning a bathroom?


Update: 11/3

I realized my post hardly mentions Jon. He has been wonderful and supportive, and he's grieving in his own way. He's just more private -- or at least, more successfully private -- than I am, and I don't presume to speak for him. Jon: I love you, sweetheart.