Originally written January 28th, 2017
It’s true what they say–that time heals. I’m healing.
Weeks ago, in December, on my dad’s birthday, I sat in my car and cried my eyes out. My whole body shook with fear and my lungs ran out of air. All I could hear was the loud pounding of my heart as it banged hard against my ribs. I kept wiping away the tears, but they just wouldn’t stop running down my face. I felt outside of my own body, looking down at such a strange scene. I kept saying “no” over and over in my head, until I began to utter the words aloud; hearing my own voice made me unravel even faster. I was in the parking-lot of the doctor’s office, alone. Moments before, the doctor told me that the miscarriage was probably already underway.
It’s really hard to find the words to talk about it; I don’t think I’ll ever find them.
When we conceived, Codey and I were so extremely happy and excited. Even though no official plans were made, I had already carved a permanent space in the future and in my heart for this already, amazing person growing inside of me. Everything was bright and dreamy–like the inside of a pretty snow-globe. Quiet, whimsical and perfect. Codey wanted to tell the whole world.
Then everything shook; I knew something was wrong. After the ultrasound gave scary news, I was whisked away to get poked with needles; I couldn’t control my tears. The lab tech stuck the needle in my arm as I sobbed; she asked if I was ready for Christmas. I couldn’t answer. I couldn’t stop crying. My test results would be back in a day.
Mustering up all the strength I had, I went to work. I taught the final classes of the semester; even though I was at school, I wasn’t really. I was somewhere else completely.
The next day I cleaned our apartment. I couldn’t sit still. If I stopped moving, I’d cry. I couldn’t eat. I anxiously awaited the test results. I was running out of surfaces to scrub. Codey was at school. The phone never rang. Around closing time, I called the doctor. And it was confirmed: one of my greatest fears was actually happening. My baby died.
Codey came home and we cried.
As I cried in the bathroom, I looked up and saw myself in the mirror–only, I still wasn’t there. I didn’t recognize myself. I was somewhere else and surely this person who was crying wasn’t me. Later I learned this psychological reaction is called “displacement of the self,” and happens in times of great stress.
Codey was and has been such a great provider of strength through everything. I love him very much. But sometimes, I just need my mom. I told her she didn’t have to come, and she told me she already booked her ticket. The next morning when I saw her in the airport, I cried and cried. Not only is she my best friend, and a huge source of strength, she’s been through this too. I don’t think she will ever truly know how much I needed her in that moment. I’m so thankful that she was there.
Christmas came and went. Codey and I traveled home to be with our families like we do every year. Sadness followed me around everywhere; this trip was supposed to be different. We were supposed to share our wonderful news. Instead, we heard it all from hesitant loved ones: things happen for a reason, it wasn’t meant to be, it just didn’t stick this time, you’re so young, move on. And honestly, I know none of this was meant to sound careless or harmful, but hearing it really was the salt in a fresh cut. Everything felt so loud. I felt so quiet. The world kept spinning onward, and I was standing still.
When I finally got to see my sisters, I hugged them and cried. It’s getting harder and harder to live states away.
For the most part, I was able to hold it together. It was harder to do so at my sweet little nephew’s baptism. While he was blessed, my mind kept thinking of my own baby. I was overwhelmed with so many emotions. I was happy to be there as his godmother, during such a special day. As I sang during the beautiful Christmas hymns, tears filled my eyes. As my trembling voice tried to stay in key, my heart cracked open again. Hearing my own voice startled me, just as it had when I couldn’t stop saying “no” in the car two weeks before.
I’m doing much better now. Time does heal, but it still hurts. I’m stronger every day, healthier and more at ease. I’m really focusing on taking care of myself and making space in my life to just be. I had worried so much about getting things done, accomplishing tasks, and following some arbitrary, ordered list of what I thought others expected of me in order to be successful (you can’t be a serious female artist and a mom…first, get a big girl job, then a house, then a car that works, then a baby). I shed these expectations I carried. I finally feel free. I’m practicing openness. If I remain open, perhaps the universe will be listening. I’m making space for what is to be, not filling it.
Ever since this happened, all I’ve wanted to do was bundle up and sit next to the ocean. I wanted to just sit and listen. We finally found some time and drove to Beaufort, NC. Before catching the early ferry, we strolled the sleepy seaside town. Most of the quaint shops were closed because it was January, the off-season. 50 degrees is freezing for the beach folk. 50 degrees recharges my whole being. As we strolled, an old man passed us with a giant smile. He wore shorts, a sweatshirt, a scarf, and walked with a giant walking stick. We smiled back and he said, “It will get better.”
I was gobsmacked for the next few moments. I looked at Codey and whispered, “that man just told us ‘it will get better’…” Codey smiled and said, “it will get better.” I know the man was talking about the chilly weather, but in that moment, it felt as though it was a special message from a complete stranger that was meant just for me.
It will get better.
Then we hopped on the ferry to a barrier island called Shackleford Banks. The beach was empty, windy, cold and desolate. We bundled up and walked for miles, collecting shells along the way. As we walked between the dunes, we stumbled upon wild horses. They surprised me so much that when I gasped, I had to hold my breath in awe. I felt alive.
After some more walking, we sat and sipped hot cocoa. My cheeks were red from being burnt by the wind. My scarf whipped as the waves crashed. The sun beat down on my blue jeans; the rays felt cozy and warm, like a hug. I got up and stood next to the ocean and cried. The sound washed my soul. I finally felt like I was back in my own body again. I had to go here, where I couldn’t walk any further. I was at the edge–the edge of my world where the blue recedes and holds everything.
I’m practicing openness–like the ocean, my arms are stretching out wide, accepting; a powerful force within myself ebbs and flows, crashes, breaks and calms again, but it never stops. It persists. Keep going.
It will get better.
“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.” -Rumi