Sunday, February 18, 2024

Vicarious Resilience

I walked into my office on Friday and found my plant looking very sad (top left). Honestly, I almost cried myself. I couldn't believe it! It's one from your funeral and it just felt like yet another loss. I quickly (actually dropped everything and grabbed a water container) gave it water. And waited. And prayed. (Does it seem strange to pray for a plant?) 

By early afternoon it looked like the bottom left, and by the time I left Friday evening, it was back: shiny, vibrant, and firm. 

Resilient. Kinda like you over and over, until your heart said, "enough."

I'm tired, Aaron. 

Not sure quite why; I did sleep pretty well last night and it's not like I've done anything strenuous. 

Jonny, Avanlee, and Elend are back for a few days, and I love that they're here. 

Tomorrow is President's Day, so I don't have to get up. If you were here, we'd probably spend the day being lazy.  I might do that anyway. 

A friend today said that robins sing in the dead of winter. They don't do it for warning, or for courtship. They sing just to sing.

I'm starting to be able to sing again. Music speaks so powerfully to my soul, and sometimes it's hard. You were actually a few months old before I could sing to you, and I alternated during those hard times singing to you, and not being able to sing to you. It's just the way it was. 

We talk a lot about vicarious trauma. It's the shift in our viewpoint when we witness trauma experienced by others. It seems to go hand in hand with survivor's guilt. We see other parents navigate child loss and simultaneously feel guilty that our child live, and also realize that our turn is coming.

What we don't often talk about is vicarious resiliency. 

I watch other angel moms and how they navigate this devastating world.

I remember my Nana, and while I didn't know until I was much older, I found she had lost her first baby, and her first husband, and sent my Papa off to war. (Are you with them now? You share a middle name with Papa, both of you such incredibly strong, wonderful, loving men.)

My aunt has buried both of her boys. 

Somehow, these women are still standing.

I watch neighbors who have outlived their children and they still laugh.

So I borrow strength from others who have gone before. 

In some ways it's not that different from how I navigated this journey since we started, or even motherhood itself. I find other moms who've been there before. 

I'm hopeful that I'll be able to do that for others, at some point. Right now it still is so raw. Today someone tried to liken another loss to losing a child. She meant well, I know she did. She was trying to relate. And all I could do was leave as quickly as possible. It didn't help that she said my heart must be so much more at peace and not hurt nearly as much now that I didn't have to care for you all the time. I didn't even have words. Again, I know she was trying to understand and help, but it just didn't. It was like a kick in the gut, kinda like when someone else asked if I was excited to travel and do a lot of things this year that I haven't been able to before.

NO!! My heart doesn't "feel better now" and NO, I'm not looking forward to my new freedom. 

Sweet boy, I miss you. I'd give almost anything to have you back, except that wouldn't be fair to you.I keep replaying the last two years, the awful lab results, the hemorrhaging from your lungs, the sedations and paralytics and all. Yet you bounced back time after time. But not quite... 

I think my heart knew, even if my mind would not acknowledge it. Your time was coming quickly. And yet you held on until Andrew was home, and you even held on until school was on break. 

There was never going to be a good time to lose you, but if there was a "less bad" time, you picked it. My brave warrior, maybe I borrow some resiliency from you as well.  

Maybe you can teach me how to heal...

I love you, I miss you.

To heal is to touch with love that which we previously touched with fear."

   Stephen Levine

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