Monday, February 22, 2010

Getting All Thinky About the Feely

A friend asked me recently how I was doing handling what must be an overwhelming emotional experience. And the truth is, I... haven't been overwhelmed yet. I assume it's because I'm so good at compartmentalizing (it *is* one of my talents -- along with packing; I'm particularly good at packing the car, a genetic gift from my father); or maybe I just have a gift for forced-march Zen. I told my friend I kind of feel like the little Dutch boy at the dyke, but instead of holding the ocean back with my thumb, I'm slowly letting the ocean leak through in manageable (so far) amounts. But I have to tell you, I'm a little worried that there isn't a tidal wave of emotion waiting to crash down on me. What if I'm just, I don't know, lacking?

I finished up boxing Jane's things today. And it wasn't horrible. Oh, I had some serious heartpangs over packing outfits she never got to wear, and trying to figure out what to do with the fancy-pants baby shampoos and sweet almond oil and tiny hair clips, but it was all... manageable. Dealable. Am I just that cold? I miss her terribly, I feel off-balance not having my days occupied with her. But, at least for now, I'm able to cope with it all. I don't quite know what to make of it.

Maybe it's that our lives are (SHAMEFUL CONFESSION) simpler now. Easier. Logistically, anyway. And she was never here, never home with us. She was, in a way, never just ours. Or maybe it's just that we paced ourselves for the long haul, not knowing that we only had a short haul to contend with. It turned out that coping with Jane's life was training for coping with her death. Or something. What do I know?

You know what I hate? That her name died with her. She had an AWESOME name. Seriously. I loved her name. And now... it's gone. Dammit.

Also? I hate not having new pictures of her. Every day I had a raft of photos to pore over. I hate that I'll never see a new picture of Jane.

Damn it all.


mommatosena said...

Tia everyone deals with things in their own way. Do I think you to be cold....absolutely NOT! I think that you are fantasically managing your forced march Zen. You are dealing and coping with what you are able to and doing it on your time; as it should be. Sounds brilliant to me...compartmentalizing is a hugely useful tool in a crappy situation. I know that you wanted her name and her to live amoung you in your house...but her name lives on the lips of people all around the world that are still sharing Jane's story. We haven't forgotten about her...she was here. The fancy pants shampoo and oils can be used on Sarah if you feel so inclined. If not then gift them to the hossy for someone else to use. Or if I can speak completely out of turn for another blessing should you choose to try again.

Just keep doing what you are doing and don't worry about if it's right or if there is something looming. This is your journey and Jane has prepared you for have a fabulous life partner in Tom...and a preschooler that will force you to deal with things at the oddest times. Just melt into the chair relish your moments with Buffy or grooving to the Go-Go's...and as always prayers for strength and peace as you march forward...

Rowena said...

First, I do love the name. I named a child character in my book Jane, just so you know.

And then, what I wanted to say about this "dealing" thing is that maybe you're just not ready, maybe you're afraid of the emotions, which is totally understandable.

Maybe you should make a safe place for yourself to feel it, at night, alone in your bed, and just allow yourself to feel, not fix it or hide it or put a good face on it or explain it or any of that. Just feel. Allow those emotions to come to the surface without restraint.

I think you're strong and will survive. And I think you will feel the difference the next day.

Rasp said...

Tia, I know you know this, but---you are not "lacking". This whole thing is a crazy unfair weird hand you've been dealt, and each person has their own emotional journey. Journey isn't exactly the right metaphor, b/c it's not like you decide to go to Prague, then Amsterdam,'s more like, Prague shows up at your door. Or doesn't. Suddenly, it's London. Oh, wait, it's Nairobi. Wait, I thought this was a tour of Europe. Oh well, it's not. You might never get to see Brussels. Or you might have one hour there that changes your life, or breaks your heart for a while. Who the hell knows?

Relief, anger, resentment, sadness, mourning, wondering, rage, calm...there's no rhyme or reason to when or how much of each. I know you know this. But I want you to hear from outside of you that there is not one feeling you could have, or not have, that would be "wrong" or "lacking". The whole fucking thing is wrong. It makes no sense. Of course you don't know what to make of it.

The no more pictures is such a tangible reminder--there is nothing that replaces your daily habit of taking photos, proving that your girl was alive, having a new and different day, with us.

And her beautiful name: Jane Greene. It died with her, and it didn't. Her name and the "name" she made for herself in her short life will, I feel certain, live on in ways that aren't yet clear.

Miss Lisa TT said...

As always, Rasp is so eloquent. I love this: "Wait, I thought this was a tour of Europe. Oh well, it's not." Damn if that's not the best way to explain this particular trip down the rabbit hole.

Tia, I am sorry for—and so admire your ability to share—your loss. I myself am unable to process anything in the moment; I put my head down, muddle through, and think about it later. But even now, years after my firstborn died, I don’t have a lot of clarity around it. I have impressions, and I have aHA! moments, and I have grief that comes back to knock me down like a rogue wave whenever a friend loses a child. Which is why it has taken me so long to write to you. Even now, I can only do it a little at a time.

I was hoping to offer you something, 13 years down the path you’ve just embarked on, and I came up with this: Joy in the acknowledgement of the community that surrounds you, that you and Tom created by sharing Jane, and a reminder to let them help you even if you don’t think you need it. A gentle nudge to NOT stop talking to your husband, who may grieve in a way that’s unfamiliar to you. A warning: don’t let the grief junkies get you. They’ll co-opt your loss in order to keep their own fresh.

And an observation that, from now on, you will be different from other people in ways you can’t anticipate. My husband and I see dangers, real and imagined, in the activities our kids do, not from some vague sense of dread and worry but because the funeral home is still vivid. We don’t wish to discuss child-sized coffin options or plan any more memorial services. If that means we overzealously evaluate field trip permission slips, so be it.

I momentarily freeze every time someone asks me how many children I have. Most of the time, it’s an ice-breaker in conversation with a stranger or new acquaintance. If I say “three,” I have to explain, which is, to borrow from my 11-year-old’s eye-rolling vocabulary, “AWKward.” If I say two, I feel like Peter denying Christ. I’m so happy that, by sharing Jane with all of us, you avoided this conflict.

Which leads me to what everyone else has said: don’t think of Jane’s name as dying with her. Before Emily died, we had another name picked out, a name we couldn’t bear to lose along with her. So we kept it. It’s my older daughter’s name, and it suits her perfectly. But not many people know about Emily, and there are so many of us who knew Jane. People in your town, the Awesome Nurses, friends virtual and real. Even your virtual friends’ friends—it doesn’t get more six degrees of separation than that. The people in my life—friends, family, even my kids—have seen those fabulous cheeks, and they won’t forget Jane’s story.

Thanks for continuing to tell it. Jane was here.

artandsoul said...

I have a similar set of questions about my own weird ability to handle things. I know I come across as strong and capable. I'm a great mother to my kids that have grown up.

I love my life and I feel like I'm pretty deeply spiritual and connected to Energies beyond myself.

And yet.

I'm not a person who collapses with grief. I can relate to that. I can hold that for another. I can be with someone who does. I just don't.

I don't know why. 30 years on and I'm pretty sure it's not coming. I don't think it is a lack on my part... or a shallowness (which is what I once thought) or even a defect.

This is me. This is my life. These are the events and people and choices and results of events beyond my control.

And this is how I walk it.


Jane Was Here. And I am so glad of that.