I broke down sobbing hysterically in the car on the way back from therapy today. I don’t even really believe in God, at least not in the stereotypical way with a king sitting on a throne ruling over people, or even in an everything is part of a larger logical plan sort of way, but as I sobbed hysterically, I literally was begging God out loud to bring Sidney back, to make this all be a bad dream. I don’t know where this begging and pleading came from-maybe because there is literally no one else who could change anything, make this not be true. And of course, I don’t really think that God could change this either, or make it not be real. But it surprised me. Many things have surprised me about this experience, beyond the obvious of being in shock over Sidney’s death and still unable to accept or comprehend it. It has surprised me that I find physical comfort in going to the cemetery, and sitting next to Sidney. It has also surprised me my need to stare at his picture, and be close to it, that I can’t go to sleep without looking at him, that i don’t want to be away from the picture too long. I guess my need to be near to physical remains or reminders of Sidney is surprising, since in the abstract, I know that his body and his picture are not the same as a living baby, but I need them. They are nearly all that I have left of him.
I have always had conflicting feelings about organized religion but in times of grief, it becomes especially clear to me the purpose that it serves. We are members of a temple through Eli’s preschool, but do not participate much, and did not personally know the rabbis. But one of them showed up at the hospital after Sidney died and sat with us and cried with us. And he helped us with the funeral, and visited us at the house. They also have been saying Sidney’s name during services, and people from the preschool have organized meals for us. As has become abundantly clear, there is no easy way to get through grief and move forward. But I think having community, friends and those who love you who can sit with you and be there for you is essential, and I think that is probably where religious communities often fill a role. When we drove back from Sidney’s funeral three weeks ago, I was saying that I wished I had faith in a higher being and plan, that it would be easier, and our nanny said something that seems insightful to me. She said that religion is not the only thing to have faith in, that you can also have faith that friends and family love you and will be there for you. I am terrified that I will be left alone in my suffering, especially as time goes on, but I have been trying to hold on to her words. I have been thinking how f-ed up society is lately, how we have all the wrong values, that everyone really just wants to have a sense of belonging and feel fulfilled, and that society is not set up in a way where people try to connect with each other, or are comfortable just sitting and being with someone who is openly experiencing emotions. Tears in general, and intense grief and heartbreak, in particular, scare people, and there are not many spaces where it is acceptable to express them. I worry about this when I try to think about re-entering the world. I have been very selectively seeing people, mostly just taking walks with a few people in the area, or visiting with a few friends from DC. And I still can’t bear it. So how will I be able to do it when I am around people who don’t know what happened, who don’t care, or who are uncomfortable about seeing someone express emotions? If people cared about each other, and felt more connected, we would all be better off, but we often remain closed, and continue to push people away. I think perhaps that is one of the reasons I have always liked working with children, to help them know they are not alone, to play and be silly with them, and let them know that their opinions matter, and their stories matter, even when others in their lives tell them that is not true. And maybe because kids are usually not as bitter and jaded yet as adults, and are more open in their need for connections, their willingness to accept you, and to reach out. Connection, belonging, that is what many of us search for to escape our own loneliness. Building a family is one way that I want to get that belonging and make those connections. I long for that for myself and for Eli, and weep that Sidney will not get to be a living part of that.