In two months, it will be Ferdinand’s birthday, and once again we will remember it and celebrate without his presence, his absence every poignant, our hearts ever aching.
But this will be the first time I am getting through that day without friends by my side. We will have just moved to a new state, a new city, with much to learn and adapt to, and I do wonder how and if all that stress and distractions will affect my grief on that particular day. I wonder if that day will be different being far away from the place when it all happened, where my life changed forever.
Packing up at the cabin a few days was tough. We are selling the cabin. This is the place where I had spent some of the best days of my life, and also some of my worst. We spent many days and moments there anticipating Ferdinand’s birth. I had my Blessingway at the cabin, and R drove the birthing pool in the midst of a drizzle, winding along the mountain roads, so I could have my dream water birth. Yet right there, at our much-loved cabin, we did not find his heartbeat. In that cabin I had bawled loudly and cried my heart out. I had clawed at the carpet and walked circles around the gliding chair that we had hunted down and brought up to the cabin, imagining the amount of time I will spend there, nursing my sweet baby son. I had filled drawers with baby clothes and then I had emptied those same items with a bleeding heart, clenched teeth, aching empty arms and a tearful face. I hid there, away from people, and I listened numbly to the flow of the river, the birds’ calls, and wondered if I will ever come to life again. Boxing up the last of our possessions there, I cried. Memories came flooding back and I remembered that shock and hurt all over again, every second of the fateful event playing out in my head: loud, defined and clear.
In my heart I whispered, “Don’t worry, Ferdinand, I am taking you with us.”
But that may just be silly. For, so often during my mundane days when my thoughts turn to my son, and I plead to myself, “I so wish he is here. How I wish to have my son and watch him grow.” And almost as often I hear a voice in my head, firm and loving, the voice of my son saying, “You do not need me to be happy, mama. You are OK, you can be happy.”
And that always makes me cry, my back turned to the world, rinsing out the dishes.
As I walk further out on my grief journey, I sometimes feel stronger. The urge to grab strangers by their shoulders and hiss to them that my son had died has diminished. I talk less about him, and I write less. But I do not love less, miss less or grieve less.
I have found ways to cope, and yes, I did moved on. I can’t really spell out the details, which I sometimes wish I could, or to pen a manual of grief and healing, or to formulate a salve that will soothe all aching mothers’ hearts. Somehow, as the days wear on, I find my strengths and I plodded on. I admit to myself that even as I keep rubbing dust in my hair, and walk around like a living zombie, it just will not change the reality of it all. I allow myself to grieve and I know that there will be sudden rough moments, and I just acknowledge that of the many roles and identities I will assume in my life, one of them is that of a bereaved mother. And I try to use my experience as a bereaved mother to support people who seek others who can understand. I am honored to have walked with and sat with others on their grief journey, and every step of the way, Ferdinand was with me, throwing my heart wide open, shining brightly, healing.
And I know there will always be moments that just lashes at my knees, causing me to keel and break apart. Lately it is the episodes of “Charlie and Lola” that Lyra so enjoy watching. And each time I see her grin or chuckle over the story of Charlie and Lola, my heart breaks a little. I keep thinking the story of Charlie and Lola could well have been the story of Ferdinand and Lyra. I always imagine Ferdinand’s voice when he opens the episode introducing his little sister who is very small and cute. I really wish Lyra has a big brother who just adores her. She is truly adorable and she heals my heart. It is not her obligation, but by being just who she is, she soothes my aching heart. So often she brings me to tears, and I still have not talked to her about Ferdinand yet. I do not really know how, but I do not worry about it, because I know the day will come when I know it, and the words will flow, as will the tears.
Sometimes I wish I will stop with the could-have-been, but sometimes I really just cannot help it.
Some things just will never change: Ferdinand’s stillbirth. Waves crashing on shores. His absence. The moon waxing and waning. People who simply will not understand and acknowledge. Rain. People who refuse to look our way of the bereaved circle. Blossoms. The discomfort over talking about death, especially that of a baby. Falling leaves.
Some things change. I walked on. My son walked along with me. I moved on because it was the only way. My heart will always have a hole, and the cast of grief’s shadow. I got stronger and I live my life different.
But oh, my heart as a bereaved mother, many years out it will be the same. Beautifully scarred. My life, ever perfectly imperfect.