And Both


Loss / Sunday, February 18th, 2018

Somehow Ramsey has been gone for 6 months. I’m not sure which is more unbelievable – that his life began and ended so close together or that I survived it. I am past the point where I think his loss will kill me. I have settled into the daily pain and sadness him being gone holds. I wanted to die for a long time and I am not quite sure when that stopped or if this is just an interlude where I don’t actively and daily pray any time I am alone that I will have the strength to do what it takes to maybe, possibly join Ramsey or better yet, to have something catastrophic happen to me that quickly and bluntly ends my life.

That sounds really depressing and pessimistic, doesn’t it? I believe there is something very healing in acknowledging to myself and the world at large that my baby boy dying will always hurt me. My family and I are always going to hurt a little bit. It is easy to call the acceptance of this reality negativity. I’ve been working on allowing myself to keep one foot rooted in dark and one in light. That means accepting happiness with sadness and love with grief to exist at the same time within me. It is so, so difficult to give both light and dark room to stretch out and space to breathe. As I let happiness and joy creep slowly, slowly, slowly back in while I feel my personality expand by still embracing pain and sadness I feel my peace and stability growing.

The hard fact I’ve come to understand 6 months in is that love and grief are different faces of the same coin. If I didn’t love Ramsey so much this wouldn’t hurt so much. But how could I wish to love my little boy less even if it meant my pain would be less? He was here for eight days but from the moment I heard his first cry I was in love with him. I’m ashamed to say my experience with Harvey was different. When the nurse nuzzled my oldest little boy into my neck while my doctor stitched me back together I loved him without a doubt. He was pure love and pure creation actualized and made tangible, but it would take me months to fall in love with him. It was instantaneous with Ramsey. When the nurse put him into my arms he quieted immediately and we fit together like puzzle pieces. How could I wish to rid myself of even the smallest portion of that love? But with the strength of that love comes great, distressing, mind shattering grief.

One of the brutal truths about life is grief exists as a result of love. It is the strangest thing. You cannot understand sadness unless you have known happiness. And you cannot know happiness unless you have experienced sadness. They need each other to exist. The deeper the love then the deeper the happiness, but when a loss occurs the sadness will naturally and understandably create a larger sinkhole. The other side of that cavernous sadness though is a much greater capacity to love.

Shortly after Ramsey passed away (though in truth it was hours) Dave and I had to discuss how we would leave. Next to us in this awful room in the emergency department was our dead baby. In that moment I couldn’t see past that room. I hadn’t realized yet to return to Harvey meant leaving that room. But leaving that room meant doing the impossible and leaving Ramsey.

This is a heartbreaking but true metaphor for what life is like after infant loss. To live, truly live, and let love and happiness back in, it feels like part of you has to leave your little baby behind. The literal truth is that is exactly what you have to do. Dave and I will hold our grief over losing our child for the rest of our lives. Nothing will bring Ramsey back and nothing will lessen this loss.

But what if we are able to love more deeply and more unconditionally now? It is my overwhelming hope, and I do not use the H word lightly, that we can hold both our grief and our love at the same time.

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