Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pregnant Grief

I do not have an overly emotional nature. I am the girl who would rather laugh than cry and often will find a joke to drive away tears. I don't think being sensitive is one of the talents I was given at birth. I have to remind myself lately of what I am "normally" like because I haven't really been myself for the past nearly 5 months now. 

In the beginning I just cried so much and so often. The pain was so fresh and the grief so overwhelming. There seemed to be an unending stream of tears for me to cry. As I have grown stronger and borne this grief with more stability, I have pregnancy hormones to negotiate. 

In so many ways this pregnancy has been healing already. It has given me hope and purpose and physical pain to focus my mind. But, sometimes it is just hard to be grieving and hormonal. I can tell there is an extra layer of emotion added to my otherwise "normal" grieving emotion. 

I love to sing. I haven't been able to sing since Camille died. I still can't get through a church hymn. Even many children's songs are just too hard to get out. I used to sing my children the song "I Wonder When He Comes Again" when I put them to bed. I haven't been able to sing it since. 

I just am nearly always in tears just beneath the surface. It takes so little to tear through that outer layer and let the waters rush out. It isn't that I hate crying. But really, I think my Grandma Bunker said a wise thing on her death bed. 

Grandma had liver cancer. It progressed extremely quickly once she was diagnosed. The doctors had given her 6 months to a year to live. The third week after her diagnosis she went from doing fine to being bed ridden and unable to eat much. All her internal organs were shutting down. My parents were out of town with my little brothers. My older sister and brother and I went to visit her after not seeing her for a day or two.

The change in her was dramatic and scary for us at ages 13, 15 and 18. She was almost unrecognizable compared to how she had looked just two days earlier. This was a grandma who lived close to us and was in many ways a second mother to us. Walking into her bedroom we knew she would not be with us much longer. The tears just fell and they fell in abundance. None of us could speak. 

Well none of us except for Grandma. She told us over and over and over that she loved us. I think that is how I knew she would die very soon. It was the last thing she wanted us to know and she wanted to burn it into our consciousness. "I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you." It made its mark. I have never doubted that love that I know never dies.

As we were there, holding her hands and sobbing at her sides, Grandma imparted a final bit of wisdom that has stayed with me since. "You know you can get all weepy and cry about this but all that does is give you a stuffy nose and a headache." She died that night in the middle of the night while my parents were on a flight home.

Well I have had about a decades worth of stuffy noses and headaches these last 5 months. There are benefits from this emotional shift. I do think I am more sensitive and compassionate. But I hope there comes a day after the baby is born and those postpartum hormones have worn off, that I can stop taking Tylenol regularly and sing again.