There is an unexpected grief I have been introduced to. Grieving the loss of who I used to be. My daughter died. I am different now. I am not the same person. How could I be?
There is a need to fix things once you have been broken. Glue all the pieces back together. Maybe throw some tape on there if the glue isn’t strong enough. We try to get to “normal” or “feeling like myself again”. But I can’t. The loss of Cora cannot be undone. The profound shift in my soul cannot be put back into place.
And sometimes, that really pisses me off.
It has been 14 months since Cora died. The birth of my son has been the highest of highs and the continue mourning of my daughter is the lowest of lows. I get frustrated when I feel sad or miss her terribly. I cry, a lot. Which makes me even more angry because I was never a crier prior to Cora. But after Cora and Rowan, all the tears all the time. Some days it feels like an endless cycle of pure joy and excruciating grief. How the heck can I have all these feelings in a span of an hour?! Its exhausting. Its disheartening. At times, it feels like a set back. But it is my reality and I have to accept that.
I have learned to brace myself for the things that trigger my grief. But that was easier prior to having Rowan. After Rowan, the triggers sneak up on me. They are not so easy to brush off or ignore. Perhaps its the exhaustion of having a 12 week old. Or perhaps it’s that I am expericeing everything that I was missing. I am going to have days where I cannot explain why I am crying or feeling a little bit sad. I am going to have days where I am giggling with my sweet baby boy and then crying when I rock him that night.
This is hard for me. I am used to being in control of my emotions. But when Cora died, something was taken from me. A piece of my heart was taken with her. I will always be longing for her. Wondering who she would have turned out to be. As I look into Rowan’s beautiful blue-green eyes, I wonder what color Cora’s eye would have been. Would she have giggled when I made weird noises like her brother? Would she have loved volleyball like I did?
Last week was a really tough week. I was really in my own head. Something triggered my grief & then I just started to sink. It feels so overwhelming to know that these moments are going to happen for the rest of my life. It makes me anxious, an emotion that I never used to worry about. It makes me frustrated. It makes me scared that the moment could turn into days and days in weeks and weeks into months. And I might not be able to pull myself out of it.
I couldn’t stop thinking of how much I have changed since I lost her. Loud noises scare the crap out of me…like I feel it in my bones. If I am at a big loud event, sometimes it makes me panic. When I am stressed my jaw clenches so hard it hurts to chew and I have a weird reaction with my hands. I’ll catch myself wringing my hands over and over again for no reason.
Those are just the physical reactions. Emotionally, it sends me down a spiral. I start thinking of the moments I’ll never have with Cora. I get mad when I think of what Paul has had to suffer through. What our family has had to suffer through. I get terrified of how I am going to explain Cora to Rowan. I don’t want him to ever feel any sadness about her. I start to turn so deeply into the negative or sad thoughts that I cannot see past it.
By the third day of this cycle, Paul sent me a very intuitive & sweet text while I was at work. So I fessed up and told him what was really going on in my head. I suspect he already knew but was letting me work it out. I’m stubborn and he knows that I never react well when I feel cornered. But his text made me open my eyes. We talked about Cora and how much we miss her.
My best friend’s mother said something to me prior to Rowan’s birth that has become my motto when the days are hard. We were in the parking lot after dinner and we were talking about Cora. Pondering what caused her death. And she turned to me and said “Scarlet, she fought”. Those words meant so much to me. It gave me a new connection to my daughter – one that wasn’t wrapped up in sadness & depression.
So, I decided to fight back against those dark 3 days. I knew that if I could pick myself up out of this fog from the past week that I could do it again in the future. This funk I was in would pass. So, I got home from work and took Rowan on a 3 mile run/walk. I started Running after we lost Cora & it worked wonders on my soul. I would pray while I ran, talk to Cora, & take my frustrations out on the run. So Friday I loaded Rowan up & we hit the trails. I prayed for peace over my heart and my thoughts. Vowed to let go of so many of those things I cannot control that I was fixated on. I told myself I was going to relish the sunlight & my son.
That’s exactly what I did. I let it all go on that run. I sang to my girl Kelly Clarkson. I felt the weight lift off of my chest. And I knew I was going to be okay. I still had tears in my eyes – I think those are just a part of motherhood.
I then took note of the positive ways I have changed or grown since Cora.
I am stronger. I love fiercely. I am grateful for the smallest things. I am more empathetic. I listen more to others – to their pain & their joys. I forgive easily. I still love unicorns & glitter. And I am a fighter – just like my daughter.