There are times when the dam wall breaks: all the little things add up to one unbearable ache in the centre of my chest, and the tears that have seemed a distant memory become a flood that washes away all points of stability.
It can be remarkably hard to articulate what hurts, and why. A visit from a Neurologist this morning left me feeling confused and unsettled, unsure what is happening next, and I felt a dull heaviness settle in my stomach. A few minutes later I was comforting the woman in the bed across from me, who is eight months pregnant and came in with chest pains. She was told she has a blood clot and needs to have more x-rays, and a scan to check on her baby. She is naturally concerned about the affect of the radiation on the baby, and if it is okay, and I suddenly felt the overwhelming protectiveness of a mother for her children – and the weight of last year’s loss and betrayal. My womb feels barren and aching, longing to feel the stirring of life within it again. This is never to be, and my husband’s looming vasectomy will ensure the decision will be final. This is the right action, and the logical decision, and my head tells me that another baby would break my body, and then break my heart by being another boy. Because it isn’t a baby I want, but a baby girl.
Then the 81-year old woman in the bed next to me, Catherine, who gently and gradually coaxed me away from my books into deeper and deeper conversation, was told she can go home today. We have only had five days together on the ward, as she arrived a day after me, and of course I was glad for her sake that she could get away from the bright lights, constant noise, bland food and lack of privacy and information, but I also suddenly felt myself washed by illogical and unexpected waves of abandonment, and heard her say to her daughter, ‘She lost her mom. I was trying to be a mother to her.’
I want to stare these emotions in the face, and tell them that I am going to accept them and let them go. I also don’t feel strong enough to do that work right now, but feel as if turning away to just get through leaves them growing into shadow-shapes, morphing and gaining strength while out of my sight. To name them, and own them, seems to diminish their power, but also seems to sap more energy than I can afford to lose right now.
I am immensely grateful for what I have in my life – more things than I can name. I am grateful for life itself, with all its joys and beauties; for my gorgeous boys, my wonderful husband who I have learnt to love with increasing richness and certainty as I have grown into more confidence with what I want from life, and the few friends and family I know I can rely on absolutely and without question. This gratitude gives me the confidence to know happiness has not deserted me; it has merely had to move over for a while to give sorrow its space.