Yesterday, we got a weighted bear that weighs the same amount as Sidney did when he was born. He came wearing pajamas, size newborn. I hadn’t decided what I was going to do with the bear when Eli saw him and asked about him. I said that he was a special bear that weighed the same amount as baby Sidney had, and that he was just a toy. I asked Eli if he wanted the bear to sleep in my room or his room. Eli said his room. This did not altogether surprise me, but Eli’s need to care for the bear did. He immediately took him, and said, “his diaper is dirty. He needs a new diaper. Can you please help me change him?” So we went upstairs, put him on Eli’s changing table, took off his pajamas and diapered him. Then Eli carefully put his pajamas on. For the rest of the evening, Eli carefully carried him everywhere with him. He told me that he would keep him safe when he was scared, and asked what would happen to the bear when he was at school. I said I would watch him, and he said, “don’t you have to do work?” (Eli thinks I have been doing work during the day which is really only true if we categorize grieving as work). I said that I could take breaks if the bear needed me. As the night progressed, and then again this morning, we also proceeded to give the bear a bottle, to have detailed discussions about the fragility of bears versus babies, to hold the bear on my old nursing pillow, and to a do a number of additional diaper changes. And it hurt so f-ing much. I don’t want to watch Eli be a big brother to a bear. I don’t want to change the diaper of a bear. I want Sidney here. And it’s also making me realize how much Eli has an unmet need to nurture a little brother, that he was excited to get to do all of these things, and that he is missing them. I have been grieving Eli not getting to actively brother a baby, but I didn’t realize that he was also grieving the same thing, that he still thought about the earlier conversations we’d had about babies and big brothers and all the help I would need. And my heart hurts. But I guess it’s good that Eli is getting a chance to express himself.
There has been a lot of talk about superheroes in our house lately. Eli is very interested in them, and in fighting ‘bad guys,’ despite our active efforts to avoid this type of language (for example, we really try to emphasize good and bad behaviors rather than good and bad people, but despite this, Eli has recently become obsessed with ‘bad guys.’) My husband and I also started watching the show Heroes on Netflix recently, which I have been enjoying. I never watched it when it was on actual TV. But this has made me think a lot about how I want there to be a bad guy, or a clear evil that can be defeated, but that with this, there isn’t. There is no one to ‘defeat’, or even really to be angry at, beyond people saying insensitive or inconsiderate things. And that makes this so much harder. There is no cheerleader that we can save that will then allow us to save the world. We just have to keep living with this hole in our hearts, knowing that that hole can never get filled, never heal, will always be there.
The seasons are starting to shift, and with that also comes a new melancholia, a sense that time is moving on without me, and especially without Sidney. Children are going back to school, and soon, I will also go back to campus, although what that will look like is still unclear to me. We have to fill out a detailed information sheet about Eli for his preschool, and I remember filling it out last year, in such a different place, excited because my husband and I were finally on the same page to try for a second child, excited and nervous that Eli would be going to school for the first time. And now it just breaks me, because it is another sign that time continues to move. It is one thing for me to feel in a limbo state, because it doesn’t seem like there is such a big difference between 33.5, 34, 34.5, etc. but six months in the life of Eli is a lot. He has changed so much since last year. And he continues to change as I grieve, as I’m broken, and his whole experience as a three-year old will be clouded by that.
We have also reached a point where I every moment I have I will think, well last year at this time, Sidney was inside of me. Aug. 22. 2015. That was the date of my last menstrual period before Sidney. It might seem strange to remember that, but it is seared into my mind because I so longed to be pregnant, and then of course, when I was, I had to report that date at initial doctors appointments. I get that objectively speaking Sidney didn’t really exist at this point last year, but his egg, and my body sheltering it, had already started the journey that would be our limited time together. I miss him so much, and I want him here. Since Thursday, I have felt like there was a claw slowly tightening its grip on my heart, tightening, tightening, tightening, making it harder and harder to breathe as my aching heart struggles to survive.
As the fall starts, I feel a pressure to do more, to have the seasonal change mark some shift in my grieving process. And objectively speaking, I will have to do more, including the dreaded return to campus. I am also working on accepting where I am, not judging, not putting time limits or expectations on myself. But I’ve never been very good at that. So my fellow loss mamas, or other readers, how is the shifting season affecting you? Do you feel movement in your grieving process?
It has been sixteen weeks, my little Sidney, sixteen weeks since I found out you were gone. I love you always and forever.