A black hole

I think it’s safe to say that most of the time, I feel happy.  Jillian is still on my mind constantly, and I still feel a lot of sadness, but for the most part, I’m able to think about her and smile.  Every now and then, the grief sneaks up on me when I least expect it, and during those times, it’s more painful than I can describe.

Last night before I went to bed, I noticed that Willy (who, by the way, has turned out to be the most annoying cat in the history of animals, but I love him anyway because he’s also the sweetest cat in history) had knocked over the framed picture of Jillian that sits on Dave’s nightstand.  I picked it up and apologized to Jillian, and I felt the grief creep in.  I sat there for a minute trying not to cry, and when Dave came in and asked me what was wrong, the black hole opened up.

I became inconsolable.  I call it a black hole because whenever this happens, I feel that familiar ache in my chest, and I start thinking that no matter what happens, I will never be happy again.  I picture Jillian in my mind, moving around in her isolette, alive and fighting for her life.  I feel such a sense of failure while this happens, and I think during these times that no matter how many more children we have, and no matter how much happiness they bring into our lives, my little monkey will still be gone and nothing will ever make it better.  It feels like my world is closing around me when this happens.  My entire body hurts and I feel like I can’t breathe.

I’m usually able to bring myself out of this by reminding myself that most days are good and that I have to be strong for Jillian.  Sometimes it is easier to pull myself out and sometimes it’s more difficult.  Sometimes when it happens, like last night, I have one side of my head telling myself that I can survive, but the other side is saying, “see, you’re not going to make it.”

As I sit here now, I know that I will be fine.  I am fine.  It’s a different sort of fine.  Being fine now is not what being fine was in my old life, but it’s still fine.  I know that I will survive, but that I will always have a hole in my heart.  I’m okay with that.  I’d rather have this hole in my heart and be able to remember the greatest love imaginable than not feel this pain and have missed out on my sweet girl.

Father’s Day

Today is a sad day in our house. I’m filled with worry about how Dave is feeling today. Just like Mother’s Day, today is not what it’s supposed to be. Instead of spending the day with just the two of us, I should be loading Jillian into a car to take her to New Hampshire to watch her daddy race.

One thing I can feel good about is knowing that in Jillian’s short life, she was lucky enough to have one of the most amazing dads possible. I have memories of him singing to her, and I can still feel the feeling I felt when I realized that he was spending so much time at her bedside during the night while I was sleeping in my hospital room. I know that when we have more children, he’ll be the same amazing father to them as he was to Jillian, but my heart breaks at the thought of him missing his little girl. This happens every day, of course, but the sting is even stronger today.

I hope all the fathers out there have a wonderful day.

Six months

Dear Jillian,

Happy six-month birthday, Monkey. It’s hard to believe half a year has gone by since you were born. It feels like yesterday, which is strange to me because after you died, six months seemed like a lifetime away.

I feel like I’ve been going through the motions for most of this time. Sometimes I feel like I’m watching my life happen from the outside. It all seems so surreal that it’s difficult to grasp that this is really my life. You are such an important part of my life that I have trouble understanding that you’ve been gone longer than you were alive – from the time you were conceived until the moment you slipped away. Then again, you’re still in my heart, so you’re not really gone.

This summer is not at all what Daddy and I had planned. It is certainly not as happy as we expected, and that’s because you’re not here. I kind of picture our lives like a board game. We were moving along, and somehow, our game pieces got knocked backed several spaces. Those were the most important spaces of all. We’re trying so hard to move forward again, but our pieces are broken and it feels like everything has been left up to chance.

I’m a self-admitted control freak, and nothing about your short life was in my control. I had never felt so helpless as I did watching you as you fought to grow and get healthy. I wanted to reach into your isolette and make everything okay, but I was completely powerless. The only thing Daddy and I could do was let you know we were there and love you as much as possible. That’s pretty much all we can do now, too. I don’t think there’s a minute that goes by that you’re not on my mind, and my heart is so full of love for you that it’s amazing that there’s room for anything else. We’re still trying to keep our promises to you to try to be happy again. I think it’s safe to say we’re both happy, but there will always be something missing: you.

We miss you and love you so much, Jilly. You are the best thing that has ever happened to us, and we’re still the luckiest parents in the world.

Love,
Mommy

A picture of Jillian

Only a few people have seen this picture. I have been very hesitant to let anyone see it, and not just on the internet. Almost six months after she was born, I’m finally ready to share it with the world (I think). I’m still pretty apprehensive to post it, but at the same time, I want everyone to see how beautiful and perfect she was.

Only one stranger has seen this photo. It was a little girl sitting next to me on a plane last month. It’s the background on my computer, and when I turned it on, she asked if the baby was mine, and then asked if she was a boy or girl. Her questioning terrified me, because I was so afraid she would ask what the tubes were for, or why she was so tiny, or why she wasn’t with me. She was an unaccompanied minor, so there was no parent there to guide me with my answers. How would explain to total stranger, a young child, why my daughter is no longer with me? When I told her that Jillian was a girl, she just said, “she’s pretty” and went back to whatever she was doing as I sat there trying not to start bawling. It’s one of those moments that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. That little girl gave me the courage to share this picture here.

My wonderful weekend

My friend Susan, who I’ve mentioned on here before, came to visit this weekend.  I had been counting down the days until she got here, and fortunately, time didn’t drag like I thought it would.  I was so excited that she finally got to meet Dave.  We spent a lot of time with some local internet-turned-real life friends and I showed her as much of Boston as I could.  I tried to play tour guide, but I realized I’m not a very good one (unless someone wants a tour of bars I frequented my first few years here, because those seem to be the landmarks I know).  Except Fenway.  I think taking her there for Sunday’s game earned me forgiveness for not knowing as much historical information about this city as I should.

We spent a lot of time talking about our precious girls, the feelings we have about losing them, and our hopes and fears for the future.  A lot of our conversations ended with “I understand.”  I love Susan because she’s hilarious, beautiful, smart, and one of the nicest people I know, so I would love her without our common tragedies, but there is something so comforting about being around someone who gets it.  I don’t have to explain why I started crying on some random street corner for some reason that I can’t remember, and she knows that I’m okay (in a relative sense) when it happens.  She understood why I had to take a sudden detour in the Public Garden because my heart couldn’t handle the Make Way for Ducklings statue (we read Jillian that book twice the night we said goodbye), and she didn’t think it’s weird.  I know most people would be understanding of it, but with her, I know that without a doubt, she didn’t think to herself that I must be on the verge of a breakdown, which is something I worry about when I start crying in random places at random times.

She is truly an amazing person, and I’m so lucky that I can call her my friend.  In the first several weeks after Jillian died, whenever I couldn’t find the strength to get out of bed in the morning, I thought of Susan.  She has been so strong since her beautiful Katie passed away, and seeing how she has survived such an awful tragedy made me realize that I could survive and gave me so much strength.  I honestly do not know what I would do without her.

I love you, Susan.  I can’t wait to visit you soon.