I stopped at Starbucks a while ago, and a barista who has worked there for years (and saw me come in all the time after Kaden died and I was writing for Babble) asked what I’d been up to lately.
“Are you still writing?” she said while tapping in my order to the screen.
I paused. “Kind of?” I answered. “I do a lot more with other people’s writing now. I have a harder time being as consistent with my own as I used to.”
She nodded. “Well, that makes sense. You needed to write to process a lot of what happened. And now it’s not so much that way anymore.” She smiled kindly and I smiled back, heading to my table as I thought about what she’d said.
The last time I wrote on here was in May, for Preston and Julian’s birthday. Almost 4 months have passed. Kaden’s 5th birthday was in August and I tried to write this post for him – on here and on FB – and it just wasn’t ever right. It felt forced, so I left it alone. There have been many times over the months I’ve started to write and stopped.
I wish I could say that after this long, I have a handle on life/grief – but in a way, I’m glad I can’t say that. I feel like the more often I feel that way, the more their memories and the rawness of grief slips away.
I hate grief. And I miss it.
Our cat died in April. Soldier – mistakenly named when I didn’t know that not everyone in the military was called that (poor Sam who was a Marine at the time lol). I’d had him for 14 years. As he laid on the table at the vet, and the injection was given, I instantly was transported back to the day Kaden died and I had to tell the nurses when. They removed tubes one by one as I sat and rocked him and sobbed back and forth, knowing in just a few seconds he would be gone.
I looked at my kitty as his eyes looked into mine, wide and frightened and then lifeless, and I thought, “I hate this. I hate being so sad so damn often.”
It’s faded from the grief I couldn’t seem to get away from, day in and day out, to the grief that hits me in the most unexpected times. Walmart in the baby aisle. Not even that aisle was a trigger, but I heard a baby cry. And I’ve had a baby since then, so I’ve heard that cry and it’s never done much at all. But for some reason, that cry flashed me back to Children’s – getting off the elevator at Kaden’s floor and walking to his room, listening for him because he might be crying and how could I have left him.
I wasn’t in Walmart anymore. I was in that hospital. I smelled the disinfectant. I heard him crying. I heard my footsteps on the tile, saw his windows and door getting nearer, walked into his room covered in a million tubes and wires. Washed my hands and donned gloves and a gown. Turned around to see him and felt my breath catch as it did every time.
Oh my God, my God, please please heal him.
And I lost it in that aisle. I couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t move. Couldn’t figure out what to do. I pulled myself together with a gasp of air and checked out quickly so I could get to my car and bawl.
These are the moments that seem to come out of nowhere now. I can go for days with just general memories and thoughts of him, and then in an instant, something triggers a memory I haven’t thought of in years – or perhaps even since it first happened.
In a homeschool group where an infant’s eyes catch mine briefly.
At a park where someone proudly announces they’re having twins.
When a little foot pokes out of a carrier, and a tiny fuzzy head moves around.
And it reminds me every time that I lost that. My 7 lb 6 oz baby who was perfect in every way – he’s dead. I held that weight. I saw those eyes. I kissed those feet. I watched his chest rise and fall with breathing. I washed his dry little lips and heard his newborn sounds and he died. I write these words and tears fall still – it’s hard for me to even comprehend how real Kaden really was because it hurts so much to go there.
So in these years – I’ve healed and I haven’t. My heart doesn’t ache as badly as often and when it does, it’s almost unbearable still.
I hate those reminders. I love them. I still can’t believe he was here – just like theirs. Just as human and alive.
I live fully in this world – and I can say that. Fully with my girls. Fully as their mama. I never want to miss one of their moments.
And yet – once in a while that veil into my other world drops and pulls me back over into the unimaginable pain. I can’t stay there – not for long. But I don’t fight to go either.
So yes, there is less to process in a way. Less to write that deeply about that often. But also there’s still so much more.