I figured I’d try to write about this, albeit one week late… Since starting my blog I have yet to write a detailed post about how I’ve processed any of the major holidays… The best I’ve been able to do is put little blurbs about each one of them into my “random happenings” posts. I feel like a giant failure as a blogger in this regard, because after losing a child (or going through anything deeply traumatic), holidays tend to bring up so many emotions, piercing the heart in new, excruciatingly painful ways, so I should be writing about at least some of them as I share my grief journey, amiright? But truthfully, most holidays have left me too breathless and exhausted to do so.
Since Matthew died, I think I’ve been spared *some* of the pain of the holidays, which might not have been the case had I been raised in a different family. Growing up we had our traditions, especially surrounding Thanksgiving and Christmas, but nothing ever seemed over-the-top, at least comparatively speaking.
We did the Easter bunny thing, but when we grew out of it, Easter became just another opportunity to eat ham, as we weren’t a church-going family. I was a weird kid who hated Halloween – I could never think of a creative costume (#futureaccountant). Birthdays consisted of small friend parties plus presents until a certain age, at which point they changed to family dinners out at the place of the birthday boy/girl’s choosing plus presents. But everyone in my family has a birthday near the winter holidays, which made birthdays pretty anticlimactic and freezing cold.
And the tone surrounding holidays like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day was kind of like, “It’s just a stupid greeting card holiday – you should appreciate your mother and father every day, but let’s go ahead and do brunch or go to Yen Ching Chinese Buffet with Grandma and eat beef and broccoli and stare into the aquarium filled with
exotic fish goldfish and algae and contemplate each of our signs on the Chinese Zodiac Calendar printed on the menu.” (I’m an ox.)
And then I was lucky enough to marry someone who shares similar philosophies and enjoys spoiling himself and me and others every single day of the year. His attitude, no matter what the day, is kind of like, “We’re gonna party like it’s your birthday, and you know we don’t give a fuck it’s not your birthday.” (A la 50 Cent.)
Though, like any parent, I was looking forward to all of the holidays I’d spend with Matthew, hoping to start adopting some traditions he’d enjoy, at least through his younger years. I was looking forward to spoiling him on his birthday and picking out the perfect Christmas tree together and Thanksgiving dinners with family and cheesy Halloween costumes and adorable Easter outfits with pictures in front of the church and Mother’s Day brunches and Father’s Day fishing trips…
But once all of my hopes and dreams shattered I tried reverting back a bit, telling myself, “These holidays are just days – December 22 is no sadder than December 23 than December 24 than December 25. And the Hallmark-manufactured holidays are indeed incredibly stupid.” But of course, telling myself these things, I think, only slightly softens the blows associated with each holiday spent without Matthew.
So Mother’s Day…
In the days leading up to Mother’s Day, I successfully didn’t spend any time thinking about the dreaded Sunday. I think this was, at least in part, made possible by me not being on Facebook… Well, actually, I am on Facebook now, but only for purposes of participating in a pregnancy-after-third-trimester loss support group. But I have no friends, which, you guys, is seriously the
best only way to be on Facebook. And on Instagram I really only follow other baby loss moms, so I didn’t stumble upon anything too nauseatingly positive, on Mother’s Day or during the days leading up, which was beneficial.
Though, in anticipation of Mother’s Day, I did read a few articles about Mother’s Day and grief, which after doing so I started thinking… Loss and grief are part of life and the human experience. As it relates to mothers, so many have lost their mothers, were abused or neglected by their mothers, have mothers in jail or in the hospital, have mothers who suffer from devastating mental illness, are single mothers without a partner to celebrate them, have lost children, suffer from infertility, or are not in a position to start a family when they might so desperately want one, among many other complex situations… So does anyone even like Mother’s Day, or does everyone just pretend? Is the joke on all of the pretenders? Because, like, what percentage of people can actually celebrate a truly “happy” Mother’s Day? Hmmmmm…
On Saturday Mark went fishing all day and caught like 18 fish, and then that night, Mark and I went out for pizza and ice cream (so healthy!) with my baby loss mom friend, Brooke, and her husband. It was the highlight of my weekend – it was nice to be able to freely talk about all of our children. Also, Brooke and her husband are just really fantastic.
I so appreciate everyone who sent me a Mother’s Day text or acknowledged my motherhood in any way. I even appreciated the texts that used the word “happy” and contained ungodly numbers of exclamation points. Though, I’ll admit, my eyebrows raised upon reading these.
Because it wasn’t a happy day. Not at all. I should have been celebrating the day with my ten-month-old. But I wasn’t. Because he’s dead. And it doesn’t get much worse than this.
It hurt to think about the few who sent Mother’s Day texts last year who were silent this year. Maybe they didn’t know what to say. Maybe they forgot. Maybe I’m not a mother to them because Matthew died. Probably we’re just not very close anymore. But any way you slice it, it’s sad. Though in all fairness, I didn’t text most of these people either, so whatev.
Mark cooked me an amazing breakfast. He skipped gifts and a card (okay by me). Mark’s mom sent flowers, and my mom sent a blue jay necklace symbolizing Matthew and Jay.
I was a pretty shitty daughter – the best I could muster was to send a Mother’s Day text to Mark’s mom and to my mom. But I think they understood, which I feel fortunate that they did. And I don’t know if they would have been super thrilled to celebrate Mother’s Day either considering they each just lost their first grandchild.
Mark and I ventured to Target to buy me some big shirts to help me continue my futile efforts to hide my pregnancy at work… I have this one shirt from Target that is magical – the other day I was standing in our office kitchen (wearing it), and someone asked, “So, do you think you’ll try to have more kids?” And I was just like, “I don’t know – it’s scary,” before I walked away. So I bought another one of these after Mark and I fought in the middle of the store about why I continue to want to hide my pregnancy at work, and I kind of yelled, “Because most of these people aren’t that freaking supportive, and I don’t want to talk about it with them, because I’m so traumatized, so stop judging me – you have no idea what it’s like!!”
After Target, the grief hit me extra hard, so I came home and cried hysterically and blew through my next book club novel, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, which is about a large, redheaded girl and a tiny, eyeliner-wearing Asian boy who fall in love. They live in Omaha and make out in the back of his Chevy Impala, but this book is for teenagers so they only go to second base, and this is like the only thing that happens. (Darn.)
Then Mark and I walked to the frozen custard joint by our house to get strawberry sundaes.
The great thing about quitting Facebook is that I still get to hear about all of the shit that goes down on Facebook, because my mom is a Facebook addict. (After I posted about why I quit Facebook, she quit too, but she’s since tragically relapsed, which is why I’m publicly shaming her now.) So my mom told me about how Mother’s Day on Facebook lasted for like a week – like during the few days leading up to it people posted Mother’s Day crap, and then the day itself was just pure insanity with each person posting like eight statuses about how his/her mother is WAY BETTER than everyone else’s, and then, on the following Tuesday, everyone did Mother’s Day all over again by posting the “one year ago today” garbage that I would never, ever post because one year ago today I was living this blissful life sitting on a beach in Florida expecting my first child, but then, shortly thereafter, in an instant, my future was obliterated, and now I’m flailing about trying to rebuild… Something.
So, overall, it wasn’t a happy Mother’s Day. I guess I could have cried all day instead of for like four hours, and I am thankful for the positives in my life, so I suppose it could have been even worse without said positives, but it was still honestly pretty awful.
From where I sit now, I don’t see how Mother’s Day will ever be truly and purely happy for me. At best, it will be bittersweet. I mean, Matthew is forever gone. And no matter how many living kids I have, I’ll always be spending Mother’s Day one down. And there will never come a time when this doesn’t completely suck.
But I hope the holidays will feel gentler in time. I hope they won’t always be this sad and exhausting. Hearing others down the road say that it’s never perfect, though it does get better gives me the hope necessary to carry me through the dark times, when this life just seems so difficult and depressing and like it takes so much effort just to make it to the next minute.
I’m clinging to this hope.