I had imagined by big blog announcement a little differently. Not that I am a professional, or even novice, blogger by any stretch. But I did imagine that I’d share my pregnancy with a cute post on bread baking or something and tie it together. Because that’s what you do. Instead, just as I passed the mark at which I felt comfortable sharing, but world was turned upside-down. In the span of just 4 weeks, we lost my mom to cancer.
I was left to balance the incredible joy of my first pregnancy with the insurmountable grief of losing such a powerful part of my life. I could not find words to share the joy. It’s taken me over 7 weeks to find the words for the sadness.
I consider myself lucky in that before this spring, I have never experienced what could be described as “profound grief”. I have lost 2 great grandparents and 3 grandparents in my lifetime. However, the grief I felt was different, and it certainly was not all-consuming. When Bub passed away less than 2 years ago, we knew her cancer was terminal, but that it would give us time to work in a few “lasts” and give us time to say goodbye. Of course I was devastated when she finally passed. But there was the year of knowing it was coming to work through the stages of grief in time. And when we were sad, we could still call her and share about our day and tell her we loved her. We had a year.
Up until 3 days before Mom passed, we thought we had a year. Her passing was a shock, in addition to the grief. It feels so unfair. She had her mom until she was 53. She shared her children growing up and had the support. I feel robbed of so many decades of time. I feel like she was robbed of the one thing left on her bucket list – meeting her first grandbaby. And I absolutely feel like my dad was robbed of at least 20 years of retirement shenanigans. I tried to process the injustice of it.
But life is not about fairness. We are not entitled to the breaths we take. And we were not “robbed” of anything. If nothing is promised, or given, how can it be taken away? Despite this initial bitterness, I am left with no anger.
I cried before she passed. I did not cry when she got the diagnosis. I did not cry a week later after the surgery when it was much worse than they thought. I did not cry when I spent a week with her recovering in the ICU. But I cried the next week when the scan showed the surgery was fruitless. That even with the most aggressive treatment options available, she would never be cured. But we were promised the meeting with the grandbaby. And I cried two days later when her body started shutting down as the cancer consumed her at breakneck speeds. I cried at the lost year we were just promised. At the loss for the baby. At the shock of it.
I cried briefly at the hospital between phone calls when we notified close family and friends. The words floated out of my mouth, but I cannot believe I said them. And I cried at the funeral – at the moose ears, when our Cantor chanted A Woman of Valor, and at the grave-side Mourner’s Kaddish. But I didn’t cry between. And I didn’t cry again. Maybe I was too tired; but grief is not measured in the number of tears. The grief will come.
It will come at small moments and at big moments. It will come when I am suddenly lonely in the middle of a crowded room. It will come on holidays and on any random day. I know it will continue to come.
Shiva (the week of mourning following a family death) has come and gone. The grief did not change. Only the exhaustion. Shloshim (the month of mourning for a parent or spouse) has come and gone. The grief continues.
It changes, yes. But there’s no switch where you suddenly notice it is better. The waves of grief crash on until one day you notice the tide is low and you can get up again. But the tide comes in.
And there is joy that mixes in. We feel our baby girl move. My belly gets bigger every day. We pick out nursery décor and strollers and baby names. But the grief continues.
As I said before, I still struggle daily to embrace the joy and love with growing this soul, but also to fully grieve my mom without bottled it up for later. I have grief for my mom – she will miss so much. We had such plans (doesn’t everyone?). I have grief for my daughter – she will never know the love from this woman. To her, it will always be someone that I talk about, but that she can only connect to a face in a frame. As she gets older, she will roll her eyes at my repetitive “She would have loved you so” and say that she knows. But she will never know. And I have grief for the hole in my life from losing my mother and best friend.
And yet… I am thankful. We had no anger for each other. No bitterness or grudges. We knew and felt love from each other. She had a life full of personal and professional accomplishments. And if it had to happen, if this was so sealed in the Book of Life, then I am a little relieved that it was quick. And I am certain that our pain in grief exceeds her suffering.
I have the warmth and love of friends to surround me. It does help. But it does not fix what happened. I appreciate the help and the offers of help. And I can lean on so many people for so many teams; I have a village to carry me through this. But I need to walk through the grief myself; the village cannot carry me over the waves. They cannot stop the waves that will wash over me. Yet I do not want people to stop offering help; just to understand that refusing help is not an affront to their friendship, generosity, or trust.
I do not think my grief is special. This would hurt in unfathomable ways whether I was pregnant or not. But I am sad that the timing means that I may never be able to separate this pregnancy, the experience of so many firsts, from the profound loss of Mom.
As the weeks wear on, the tide is slowly going out. So far, this month has been better than last month. But I cannot say if today was better than yesterday; just like waves on a shore wash in and out, so does the grief.
But on the pregnancy side, we are doing well. The shock and travel have not hurt me or the baby. She continues to grow right on track, and at our girls getaway this weekend, she was wiggly for everyone. Time moves slowly and quickly, all at the same time, but our excitement grows. She is due October 28th – less than 4 months away.
How will the tide look then?