Last weekend my husband and I attended a neighborhood fish fry. We have only lived in our house for a little over a year, so we are still getting to know most of the people on our street. I knew that our direct neighbors would be there, and my initial thoughts were that the party would be a small gathering.
As we were getting ready to leave I began to cry putting on my make up. No reason, just felt sad that our house is still so empty when it should have a 6 month old in it. Nathan suggested maybe we skip the party, but I was determined to pull it together and have a night of fun. A few tissues later and we were on our way.
As we crossed the street and approached the house (everyone was gathered in the garage) I immediately saw a stroller. My heart started racing and I started to assess the situation. I hadn't planned on babies being there so I was caught off guard ( I truly thought we lived on a street with mostly retired people!). This reaction seems to happen every time I see something that would belong to a baby. The feeling I get is like seeing your ex-boyfriend with another girl for the first time after you have broken up. Baby items have the ability to make me go running. Anyways, I see the stroller, start to panic, and then immediately assess that there is no infant carrier, thus confirming that the child must be older (at this point, I cannot see the child, just the stroller). Thank goodness, I think to myself, since older children aren't as hard for me. We walk further and see that the stroller belongs to a little girl around the age of 1. This is another plus- its a girl. Since loosing Caleb, I can handle girls better than boys. They don't send me into the thoughts of what he would have been doing, or looked like, etc.
I compose myself and go around and greet people. Turns out there were a lot more people there than I anticipated. The whole time I am dreading the question "do you have any children?" I don't like to leave Caleb out, but who wants to talk about a horror story like ours at a nice neighborhood fish fry? I just feel so caught between telling the truth and bringing the whole room down with it. Luckily, no one asked.
We stayed for about 2 hours and right before we left one of the ladies passed around her phone with a picture of her niece who looked about 9 months old. She said that her niece had been born weighing only 2lbs at 26 weeks gestation. The baby made it and is now doing great. And this is where it is the worse sometimes. Your natural instinct is to be so excited when you hear this, to Praise the Lord for this child's incredible ability to survive and the technology that enabled it. But, after losing Caleb, I don't have that natural instinct. All I could do was put on a fake smile, and try to push out the thoughts that stated to bombard me. Caleb weighed 7 lbs, he was full term, no problems during pregnancy at all and yet he came out dead, but a baby born weighing 2 lbs lives? How is this possible? How can someone who looks so healthy die and someone who looks so sick live? So I spent the rest of the party trying to fight those thoughts, reminding myself over and over that I am not the Lord of life and death, but God is. He makes the calls and His ways are not our ways.
By the time we came home from the party I was exhausted. And this is the part about grief that is hard. Every time I step out of the door I feel like land mines are everywhere. Just going across the street to a gathering takes so much energy. What used to be "fun"to me now just takes a lot of prepping and actually willing myself to be engaged in the party, and then a debriefing when I come home just to process everything. This is why when people ask me to do things, I can't give them a definite yes anymore. I have to almost wait until the day of, see how I am feeling and then decide if I have the energy. It's like I am still so sick, but no one can see it. I have to move at such a slower pace now than before. One unseen land mine can send me home bound for days.
Overall, the party was good, just took a lot of energy to get there and back. Please remember this if someone you know is grieving. Give them space and allow them to move slower or cancel plans last minute. It may not make sense to you, but to a person dealing with grief, life is a moment by moment thing to get through and you just don't know where it will take you.