for my friends in Louisiana and elsewhere…
The pain of grief, like the pain of contractions, comes and goes.
At times, it slowly fades away, then returns all of a sudden without warning. Catching me, taking me. Gripping my stomach before I completely understand what the trigger is.
The striped sailor shirt, worn by another little boy.
The smell of Paul’s cousin’s neck.
A glimpse of the face of a future dad, carefree.
Will I ever be carefree again? This is perhaps what disturbs me most now. Because I am confident that one day I will be able to find joy, satisfaction, sadness for something else. But I doubt I will ever be carefree. The memory of suffering and distress will remain.
During the 24 hours I spent at the birthing center, living through contractions, I was confident. Confident not only in the fact that it would end eventually, but also that what was happening to me made sense. I tried to let myself be carried away by the waves. I didn’t always succeed. At times, the contrast between the well-being I experienced during periods of rest and the pain that suddenly imposed itself on me was too big. I resisted. I tried to plant my toes down to avoid dealing with this wave that was too intense. But invariably, it carried me away. Sometimes the pain was profound. But it made sense.
Isabelle Brabant, midwife and author of Une naissance heureuse says that the distinction between pain and suffering is right there . « Pain refers to an unpleasant feeling, sometimes even extremely unpleasant. […] When feeling it, you understand where it comes from. Suffering is of an entirely different order, and comes from the feeling of being abandoned, ignored, overwhelmed, helpless, struck. » (my – tentative – translation).
These days, I do not understand what happens to me. I struggle to find meaning in the suffering I deal with. Nothing comes. Except the cruelty of the situation, multiform. In the face of those who love me and love(d) Paul. In the realisation, each day renewed, of the permanence of his absence. In difficult mornings, as I am once again aware of the enormity of what happens to us. In all these moments I wish I lived together with Paul .
Each time the wave comes over me without giving me a choice.
Catching me. Carrying me away. Smashing me against the seafloor.
Then, sometimes, it lets me float away. In this in-between-world. Between unthinkable pain and normal life. Where I have to learn to live with seasickness. Le mal de mer, le mal de mère.
Référence : Isabelle Brabant, Une naissance heureuse : bien vivre sa grossesse et son accouchement, 2013. p.272.
Thank you for the beautiful translation of this post.
« …the face of a future dad, carefree » – I agree, the loss of innocence is one of the hardest things to accept, beyond the loss of our child. At this point, for me, I need to mostly hide away from potential triggers like these. It’s just too fresh and I’m too easily bruised, on top of the intense grief.
Like you, each morning nearly breaks me when I am rudely awakened to the truth that Zachary has died yet I must live on. It continues to feel oh so wrong. I await a time when it will feel a little bit more like « it just is »…. because it will certainly never feel right.
The visual you describe re: living with seasickness is so appropriate. It is certainly not what any sane person would have planned for their parenting voyage, right?
Thinking of you and Paul.
I still feel so far away from that place where « it just is ». I’m still in the land of complete and total incomprehension. I need to walk myself through realizing all of this is really happening pretty much everyday.
We’ll get there, eventually, i suppose?