Twelve years ago today our second daughter was stillborn. She never drew breath, never saw our faces, never felt hunger or cold.
For such a long time I lived with grief. It was like a member of our family. One invisible to most, but always shadowing me. Sitting with me as I tried to eat, sleep, work, care for Isabella. I couldn't believe others didn't see it when they met me. No one asked, 'Who's that behind you?'
In public, walking through the grocery store I felt flayed, stripped of my skin and red raw, exposed. Any breath, any touch might hurt me. I had to be so careful of myself, since I never knew what might send grief running to strangle me, stop me in my tracks. I learned to avoid pregnant women, babies and late nights, sappy movies...
Some nights I would lie in bed and cry. Two pillow nights, I called them. I'd cry until one side of the pillow was wet, then turn it over. After a while I'd drop that one to the floor and start wetting another before eventually flipping it, too. I usually fell asleep on the fourth side.
In my bed at night I couldn't believe when Hubby slept through my grief. I could not imagine that standing on the street, even, my grief was not visible. A hulking, huge presence shaking the foundations of my home. And yet he slept. And people walked by.
But, from here, twelve years on, it's all good. Not good, in that I'm glad it happened or glad that she's gone. Just all good now.
Her presence taught me so much. My friends, my family are amazing beyond understanding. Men and women grieve differently -- not better or worse, just differently. Everyone has a hurt that is following them around, so be forgiving. I am strong. My children are precious. Time really does heal all wounds.
In the end I learned that grief, and its twin, anger, will leave. They might drop in on occasion, but mainly they will shadow someone else. So it's OK to be happy and sad and crabby and goofy. It's OK to just keep going.