Monday, December 16, 2013

Reality crept in

It's almost always the unexpected...

On Sunday, my husband and I went to get groceries, which seems like a relatively harmless, maybe even 'safe' outing. We had planned to leave early in the morning, but I wanted to take care of a couple of things, and thus we ended up leaving later than we hoped.

Even during the busy rush of the holidays, we prefer to shop at a nearby box's nice to have an 'all in one' stop, as we can only bear so much 'holiday cheer'.  We had a few things on our agenda outside of groceries, including Christmas gifts for four little boys.  We headed straight to the toy section and found one item on our agenda.  We opted to look at the book selection, but found it disappointing, and began to meander towards the cold food section.

As we headed toward our next stop, I saw a mom on a cell phone with three young blond girls heading towards us.  I realized I knew the mom, and tried to think of who it was.  I was excited and asked my husband, "Do you know who that was?"  He wasn't sure, and I said her name.  Then it hit me that this mom was a mom to an "oldest" daughter, and twin daughters.

Catelyn being bapitzed.  May 2010
The twins were a few months younger than Catelyn, but all three of our girls were baptized on the same day.  I turned back to look at the twins, and I felt confused. 

Where were the "little" girls?  Why weren't they little?  They should be little.  They are younger than Catelyn, after all...

And then reality crept in.  Yes, two of the girls in that family are younger than Catelyn, but they aren't so little any more.  They have grown.  They get to continue to grow.

All of this hit my heart like a lightning bolt.  First, I felt it begin to shatter in slow motion, piece by piece.  Two aisles away from where I saw them, I could no longer keep up with the pieces.  I couldn't think straight.  I could barely breathe.  I was looking at the grocery list in my hand thinking that it must have been written in a foreign language because nothing was making sense.

We had 5 items in our cart, and I was about to ask my husband to take over with the list, when he looked at me and said, "I don't want to do this anymore."  I said "Neither do I, let's just get these items and leave."

We scurried to the front of the store where we checked out and left.

As we drove home, I was silently bawling in the passenger seat.  My husband took my hand and asked if I was okay.  I said no, and cried harder.

When I was finally able to speak again, I explained that it has been extremely hard watching our friends' kids growing up, but I've become accustomed to it.  I hate it, but there is nothing I can do to change it.  We see a lot of these kids all of the time.  One of my best friends' son is 2 weeks older than Catelyn.  It sucks, but, again, there is nothing we can do about it.

To see a child (or children) we haven't seen, since Catelyn's death, is so much harder though.  It almost feels as if Catelyn just died again.

It is purely agonizing to see how much time has already passed.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


For all of my life, including the past two years and 3 months, I am constantly asked how I am doing. 

Like most people, the question comes up during part of the everyday, rote, human interaction.  And, especially in grief, I have learned that most people don't really want to know how other people are doing.

The expectation is usually that someone will greet you and say, "Hi, How are you?"  You will then respond, "Good, and you?", no matter how you really feel.  To which they reply "Good, thanks", no matter how they really feel.  And then you will part ways, feeling fake and mechanical.

Well guess what.  Since Catelyn died, things haven't been 'Good' very often.  And of all the words I reply to "How are you?" with, quite simply, "Good" doesn't even register in my mind as a possibility.

Initially, I couldn't even use words to answer that question.  Instead, I would shrug and mumble, "enh." Of course, I realized that people wanted a positive answer, even if it was fake and not the truth.  So, I started with "Okay".  After a few months, I even worked up to "Fine".

At my job, it is my responsibility to greet people all day. I play the robotic 'how are you' game multiple times a day.  Generally, I try to say, "I'm doing well, how are you?" whether I feel "well" or not.  Late last week, a co-worker passed me in the hallway and said "Hi, how are you?", and I said, "Good, how are you?" 

As we continued in our separate directions, I realized what I said.  Without thinking, I replied that I was "good". 


How weird it felt to say that word.  I can guarantee you that as hard as I've tried to "fake" my answers in the last 2 years and three months, I have never been able to pull of "Good".  I've never even tried.

So I paused and thought about it, and realized that it was true.  I actually felt good.

It's not every day, but I actually had a moment where I was good.  :)

Saturday, December 7, 2013


In late 2008/early 2009, I became very aware that many of my friends were expecting.  I felt like I could throw a feather and hit someone who was either about to give birth, or due sometime in 2009.  It was becoming aggravating as I wanted so badly to have a child, but just could not conceive.  When I found out that I was pregnant, I stopped feeling so hurt, because I had joined the ranks of the parents-to-be.

In August and September of this year, I watched as many of those children posed for precious pictures of their 'First Day of School', and I felt my heart sink.  Catelyn is a December baby, so she would be eligible for 4K in 2014, but seeing all of the little 'friends' with their backpacks and smiles was so crushing.

Something about Catelyn's 4th birthday has caused a shift in my pain that I wasn't expecting.  I don't really know how to describe the pain, either.  I imagine it's just a continuation of the giant void I am left with in her absence.

Most of it, I think, stems from the fact that I simply can't imagine what she would be like now.

She was 3 feet tall at 20 months, so I know she'd be tall.  Perhaps she'd be mistaken for a Kindergartener.  Would her hair be curly or straight?  Would she want to wear dresses or jeans and a shirt?  What would her favorite color be?  What would she like to do?  Would she like having a bare Christmas Tree, with white lights, ribbon, and a star on top; or would she want a brightly colored tree with lots of baubles?  Would she be excited to visit Santa?  What would our Christmas rituals be?  What would our birthday rituals be for her?

It is devastating to know that another Christmas, another birthday, and another new year will all come without her here. 

I can still picture her tasting that first birthday cake.  It was unlike most children with their first pieces of cake.  There was no mashing, spreading, or stickiness, and very little mess at all.  She sweetly scraped a bit of frosting off with her finger, and sat smacking her lips together as she continued to daintily pick up tiny bits of cake and neatly place them in her mouth. 

I wonder what she would do at her 4th birthday.