The next series of check boxes started with the option "The Defendant and I do not have any minor children together." and while making a bold black "X" in that box the thought "Thank God!" zipped through my head. Followed by a twinge of guilt.
The absence of children simplifies a divorce but of course it isn't as simple as that. The myriad of feelings associated with Toren's death does not include thankfulness. But the feelings about divorce do include thankfulness that I will not be connected to the ex for the rest of my life through our children. I wonder if this is an emotionally complicated section of the paperwork for many couples.
If there was a minor child would this divorce be looming? I suspect not, but being able to view our marriage from a distance allows me to see all of the problems that were there all along. I miss the family that could have been while also being thankful to be in a healthier situation.
I'm including what I wrote for the blog cross-pollination here so that it will be included in my record of life post Toren and because I have a few other things to say about it. By the way, I loved participating in the cross-pollination and am honored to have swapped posts with Mrs. Spit and it's so fitting that she used gardening as a metaphor for grief since this is "A garden for butterflies".
It’s true what some people say, that when you lay your eyes on your child for the first time you love them with your entire being. The first glimpse of my son was in the form of double pink lines on a home pregnancy test. Later I heard his amazing heartbeat and viewed his cute, little fetal self via ultrasound. When I held him for the first time a huge wave of calm and wonderment encompassed me; my heart burst open with warmth and pure love for him.
That was the first time I truly felt love. Relationships with parents, spouses, and friends can become so complicated; that short time resting in the hospital bed was an oasis of peace and love existing in a complicated story. During the next several hours he was held, named, and blessed.
After your baby’s body has been taken away to chill in the morgue those feelings of love get rather hard to reproduce, at least in my experience.
I am an expert on anger.
I am an expert on jealousy.
I am an expert on sleepless nights where the dead baby keeps me up.
I’m an expert on despising love because its absence leads to so many ugly emotions.
I know all about gender differences in grieving styles and how a dead baby can strain a marriage. Subsequently, I am an expert on dining alone, maintaining a house alone, and longing for the family that is no longer possible. Soon I will have first hand experience of divorce.
I now know more about the numerous ways that a embryo, fetus, or infant can die than I know about what items parents need to carry in baby bags.
I’m an expert on being stricken speechless in response to thoughtless remarks.
“You’re young, you can have another.”
“That baby just wasn’t meant to be.”
“You named it???!!!”
“I thought you would be over it by now.”
“If my child died I would die as well.”
“Was there really nothing medically that could be done to make him live?”
No one wants to become so familiar those feelings. Since he died two years ago I have been drowning in currents of loss. Having spent two years mastering negative emotions, what next?
I want to be an expert on love. Friend-love… parent-love… stranger-love… ex-spouse love… new lover love… kitty and puppy love… self-love.
I want to someday feel the all-consuming, uncomplicated love I felt while holding my son again. I will learn to miss my son, rage against the randomness of birth defects, sneer when mentioning the ex, tense up around pregnant women, WHILE loving.
Beginning today, everyday I will practice love.
What are you an expert of?
What would you like to be an expert of?
To practice/express love everyday was a vow and that is what I'm doing. Now this is only possible because negative feelings and positive emotions can COEXIST. Understanding that love and joy and peace can be present along with sorrow and anger was a huge breakthrough for me. While healing and reforming my life and self into something new the clash of conflicting emotions was very confusing. Sometimes I desperately miss my old, almost-was family (and I may ALWAYS miss that), but I just acknowledge those feelings and then soon the emotions naturally and easily morph into relief that the acute phase of grieving is in the past.
The present - how my life actually IS right now - is very happy.
On December 2, 2008 I wrote "So this blog is not about rebuilding a marriage and successfully having a child after a deadbaby anymore. If anything, it will be about finding something to do in life once the life you carefully planned is no longer a possibility."
Letting go of a plan/dream is hard and I thought old dreams could only be replaced by new dreams but my old dreams have been followed by no long term life plans at all! Living in the present - enjoying the company of my housemates, and time spent with the snuggle bunny and friends - and not getting stuck in the past or worrying about the future all seems so obvious, but it sure took a long time to integrate.