Reentry. Reengage. Begin. Back to life. Disappear. Retreat. Hide. Avoid. Everyday, when I wake up, I am faced with these words, these ideas. I never have a good answer for them, the questions that form in my head. Do I go to work? Do I face “normal” life, even if it will never be the same normal? Do I put together the energy to engage myself in the things I once loved but now mostly tolerate? Do I give myself, as my therapist says, “permission” to do what I can and not to beat myself up for being human and for struggling sometimes? Or, do I skip it and stay home, snug in my bed, moving only to sit in Bennie’s room and read a bit, cuddle the cats, and make some coffee? I suppose I do. All of the above. It’s tricky, this getting “back to life” business. I know, looking back, that I am taking slow steps to get there. I no longer wake up and dread the idea of going out into the world. That’s good. I have done my therapy. I have been reading my books. I have been thinking through my devotionals. I have done the “let’s get drunk and see if that helps” phase…not so much. I have done the angry with the world phase…also not so much. Too much energy to be angry all the time, especially when Bennie was so much the opposite of that…so much love, so much goodness, in one little body. Makes it hard to stay angry, or down, or sad. I am all of those things, but not all the time. I am, mostly, I think sort of distanced. I have moments of feeling, real big feelings like, “ok, I am actually excited by this! I have some energy! I am moving, I am living!” Those are good moments. I also have lots of the opposite. Not the mind numbing, soul crunching kind of sadness and grief that existed at the beginning. But still, grief. Some days, I just don’t have it in me to deal with even the most simple tasks or challenges. I just don’t. Some days, I do. I don’t love what I do every day, but I am at least getting back to it in a slow and steady sort of way. I am more easily overwhelmed and agitated. I don’t like that particularly. But, I am. I am here. I am moving. I am living. I think that’s something.
We are working on the foundation, building pieces of goodness to share with the world in honor of our son. That is good work. Kindness work. The kind of work that makes my heart feel like I’m doing something right. The remnants of, “this only exists because he doesn’t” are still there. Always will be I suppose. Some bittersweet moments. But, overall, a good thing. A positive thing. A useful and hopefully helpful thing. I am getting a handle on that.
I had a moment today where I thought, “I am proud to be Bennie’s mom…I am proud to have known him…I am proud of the goodness he is bringing out of people”. That is a beautiful, heart-filling kind of moment. I think those will keep coming. That makes me happy, with the sad pushed and piled underneath. It’s important to remember that the child that never leaves the hospital is just as important, just as valuable, just as needed and wanted as the one who goes home and grows strong. I think we got that across to some folks today. That makes me feel good. I think people know it but don’t want to talk about it. But we can talk about it. That is good, in a strange way. Because I never thought I would think my loss was good. But, in this case, I guess it is. Maybe it can make it a little less lonely for the next people. That is good. The goodness of Bennie, shining out through us. I am better because of him, both his birth and his death. I am a better and kinder person. I am a more loving and nurturing partner and daughter and sister and aunt and friend. I am more aware of those around me and the struggles they are going through. I am a better listener. I am more present in my interactions and conversations. I am more tolerant of those who are short or rude or angry. I am more able to see that moments matter and a job is a job, not a life. I think all of these things are his goodness, his spirit. I think he helps me remember to be kind and be available. I think I needed that. I also needed him. But, I couldn’t have both and that was not for me to decide. So, I will take the parts I can and hold them close to my heart and use them to make others feel less alone. I can do that. I can. I will. I am.