This is what I am finding this time around so far. I have learned a lot about how to manage our grief, but I have also learned ways to stuff it. I like to call it self-protection or dosing, but sometimes it more closely resembles "stuffing it." Before Piper was born, I got to a point in my grief with Drew where I could talk about him and think about him easily when I did so at a "mind level." It would be a different story if I went to the "heart level." I got to a point where there weren't so many undiscovered land mines or triggers that couldn't be anticipated and where I could choose when I wanted to experience Drew at the "heart level." I could almost choose when I wanted to cry, when I wanted to let my heart feel the pain again. I don't say "pain" as if it's a bad word though, because the tears I would cry were often cathartic and reminded me more keenly of my love for him. I just learned that I couldn't afford to function at that level all the time. It would take a physical and emotional toll on my body. I think learning this was a good thing - I had worked through the grief enough to feel good about where I was at, but I had also learned how to manage the pain. If I am honest about the situation though, I would have to say that there were times when I probably should have opened Pandora's box and decided not to. Now we are back at a place where you cannot close the box. Where you have to function at a "heart level" in order to keep breathing. It hurts. The knowledge of the process is not helpful right now because it's still too raw. I know it will as I delve into the work of grieving but right now I just want to feel how I feel and not try to manage it. Ug. I sound like a 2-year-old. "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to!"
It has been easier in a way because I know there will be an end to the intensity of the pain. It has been far harder in another way though and I couldn't have predicted this. When we said goodbye to Drew's body and walked out without him we didn't feel the permanence of that because we were in shock and didn't know what we do this time. This time, when we had to watch the funeral home staff drive away with Piper's body it was all I could do to let it go, even though it was just her body. With Drew, I didn't want to kiss his body after he was gone... it didn't feel like him. With Piper, I knew it was all I had left of the physical aspect I had known and enjoyed so much. I wanted her in 3D! I felt so conflicted... I wanted to be in the room with her, holding her body or being near enough to see her, but I could feel that she wasn't there and I didn't want to be there. What was worse? I knew that once they took her away that would be the last time I would get to see her little body, no matter what it looked and felt like. That was the pain that foreknowledge brought Saturday morning. I did not have such a hard time with Drew - I was able to imagine him in Heaven and happy and be happy for him. This time, with Piper, I tried to let that be enough, but the injured part of me agonized over the fact that as soon as I let her go I would, from that moment on, be one step further from the reality of my physical relationship with her with every day that passed. Ug. That hurt the most. Thankfully, my father-in-law reminded me that I was also one day closer to reuniting with her spirit but that didn't take the edge off the pain Saturday.
I recognize so many parts of the grief process and have names for them this time, but that doesn't make experiencing them any easier. It just makes me a bit frustrated that I have to do this work again. I will. And God will help. But right now, I am frustrated and sad. And I need to allow myself this. It seems like this must be how a psychologist would feel if they had to go through something like this, or if a doctor had to have an illness they knew too well. I am sure the experience will be different this time and I know it will enrich my life in some ways, but today I would just rather hold Piper.
On a brighter note, for those who think I must go through the day in tears, that's not really the case thankfully. I may burst into them unexpectedly, but they are fairly well contained to those trigger moments and moments where I am sitting in Piper's room or holding her blanket close (or a few other moments...). I am able to enjoy the sun shining on me and Peyton's vibrancy. Peyton makes me laugh and Jordan anchors me. I think I feel everything more keenly right now, both the up's and the down's. I said after Drew that he made me go from seeing everything in black and white to seeing everything in full colour, and that feeling is even stronger now. I feel the whole spectrum more intensely. Yesterday, I could hear Peyton puttering around before I climbed out of bed and wondered what he was up to. I heard him in Piper's room and thought, "Uh oh. It sounds like he might be trying to put stuff away!" (We have put all the things we had for her at the hospice in and around her room but not away. I wanted time to go through it all.) I felt awful for him having to do that by himself with all the emotion that would be attached to it. Then I heard him leave that room and go putter somewhere else. A few moments later he came by and closed our bedroom door, thinking I was asleep and wanting not to wake me. I laid there trying to restrain myself from investigating because it was Mother's Day, and I didn't want to ruin the possible surprise that seemed to be in the making. I finally nudged Jordan out of bed and coerced him to go check it out, to determine if it was ok if I came out. When they let me out, Peyton was just brimming with pride. He grabbed my hand and showed me what he had been up to. I had visions of a kitchen splattered with breakfast makings or a Lego work of art and all it's trappings nearby but it was better than that. It was beyond my expectations. It took me to the brightest end of the spectrum and the opposite all at the same time. First he took me into his bedroom and showed me that he had cleaned it all up - it was beautiful! Then he took me into Piper's room. He had cleaned it up too. He put away all the clutter and moved a few bags of clothes behind the rocking chair, and rearranged a few of the other bags alongside the wall on the other side of the room so they were out of the line of vision. But the true work of art was the crib. He laid the blanket he used to use but had given to Piper to use a few months ago in the crib, then he emptied the bag of stuffed animals she had with her at the House and gathered some others that were around the house and lined them up all around the outside edges of the crib. The work he did in his room was beautiful but in hers it was a work of art, created with love and absolutely perfect. Gut-wrenchingly exquisite. How do I keep the tears in, when he is wanting to see excitement and pride in my reaction? With great fortitude and a fair amount of acting. I was so proud of him and so excited, I just knew I wouldn't be able to explain why I responded with tears when he had worked so hard to make me happy. All over the spectrum, in a moment.
Favourite moment of the day today... laughing our hearts out while playing baseball in Jordan's parents' back yard tonight. The bat alternated between being a roll of garden fabric or a broom depending on the size of the batter and the ball was a lightweight plastic one. The gloves were plastic whiffle ball catchers. Between Uncle James leaping around like a ballerina, Jordan sliding into home plate and swinging that 6 foot bat around, Peyton giggling like crazy and me trying to play outfield with a tree in my way we ended up laughing until our sides hurt. From crying to laughing. Learning to breath again.