Last week, I officially returned to the world by way of work. Over the summer, I slowly got myself ready and semi-comfortable being out in public. I went to Target. I went to the grocery store. We joined a new, fancy gym and I started going there regularly. The first few times were excruciating - they consisted of me trying to hide from all people, with my mind and heart screaming, "DON'T THEY KNOW I LOST MY BABY?!?!" At first, it seemed like every single person that paraded by me was pregnant or had a teeny tiny baby. I thought the world was mocking me! I'd return to the car, sometimes without even buying anything, and cry my heart out.
But slowly, things got easier. I got used to being around strangers. I stopped expecting the world to know how broken I was. I stopped noticing babies and when I did, it didn't shatter my heart as badly. I started seeing friends, and hanging out with people. It got easier.
I knew I had to do it, because I know that looming in the distance was "going back to work". I was terrified of it. I was scared that I would go in and cry the whole time. I was scared of what people would say to me or think of me. I was scared I wouldn't even be able to get out of bed to get there. Thankfully, my practice, and prayers, and grief work over the summer really helped me out and this past week wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it could be.
My friends and family and co-workers really helped me through it. All week I received texts and emails of love and prayers and "you can do this!" and that was so awesome. One of my sweet co-workers brought me in a beautiful sunflower so that I could have some sunshine on our first week back. Our unofficial motto as a staff this year is "No misery at Hickory" which is so fun because we are all focusing on getting to know each other better, uplifting each other, and keeping the morale up in the midst of all the mess that is education in our county (i.e. much more work, no raises, tight funds on resources, etc) This really helps keep my spirits happy because everyone is in a good mood!
On Wednesday, my first day, I had a great day. It went by smoothly, no tears. I had quite a few friends stop into my office and say how great it was to see me, or that they had been thinking or praying for us all summer, or give me big, hard hugs that let me know they cared. I had thought I would dread walking into the big meeting, but I ended up being excited for it. I thought people may treat me weird or avoid me, but that couldn't be further from the truth. It was good to be back, good to see my friends, good to have something to do that didn't involve grieving. I was busy in my office all day, setting things up and moving stuff around and unpacking all my counseling stuff. I decorated and cleaned and updated and it was great. Therapeutic, even! I CAN do this, I thought!
When the day is over, I got into my car. As I drove home, I burst into tears. I am not really sure why?! I had a great day! I even had fun...laughed and smiled and all that fun stuff. My guess is that I had used up all my strength, held myself together for so long that I needed a release. The tears flowed the whole way home. I was a little upset with myself, because I thought I was doing so well and this felt like a set back.
When I walked in the house I saw a package on our table labeled for me. I was confused at first because I hadn't ordered anything in a while. I looked at the return label and saw our friends', Chuck and Blythe, business logo: Flutterbye Chic.
I ripped it open, excited to see what our friends had sent us! There were three items in the box: a scarf, a super soft blanket, and a tumbler...all anchor themed!
I pulled out the scarf and immediately loved it! I love chevron patterns, and blue and white, and obviously the anchors. I didn't even notice the baby initials until I read Blythe's card in which she said that the scarf was for me to wear and keep "them" close to me all day. Then I looked and saw the small "J" for Jackson and "L" for Lily. She also wrote that the infinity scarf symbolizes a mother's never-ending love.
Obviously, I burst into tears again. I was already emotional, but this gift....my goodness! It was over the top sweet. I LOVE being able to wear this sweet gift and keep my babies close to me in spirit with it!!
Then I pulled out the blanket. Also inscribed with an anchor, with my scripture around it. The blanket is so sweetly soft! Blythe wrote that this blank was for when my arms were feeling empty, I could wrap myself in it or hold it and think of them. I have slept with this blanket every night since. I love it so much!!
The tumbler is something small that I can take with me to work, with my symbol on it, and help me get through each day with hope. I always drink loads of water throughout the day at work, since I'm always running all around the school helping the 700+ students and 100+ staff, and now I have this sweet reminder of where I've been and where I am hoping to go in this whole journey.
Honestly, this is one of the sweetest gifts I have ever received. I can not thank Chuck & Blythe enough for thinking of me as I start back to work! They do amazing work and have a really great online store, which you should go check out!
This whole week, well...this whole summer, has been a blessing to us in the way that we had no idea how many people love us and pray for us and care about our lives. We've had so many friends bless us with hugs, or meals, or gifts of flowers and wine, or even better...the endless words of hope and love and encouragement. You all have each, in your own ways, helped us get through this whole thing so far. So thank you!
Another present I got in the mail was from Sufficient Grace Ministries. You can go to their website and pick which gift you want to remember your baby. I went on early on after we lost Jackson, and signed up for the Memory Book, the stillbirth resources, and the Comfort Bear. All of those things came in the mail this week too!
The book is really sweet because it's built especially for bereaved parents. We can fill it out with our thoughts on our babies, a timeline of our pregnancy, our dreams that we had for Jackson (not so much Lily since the day we found out about "her" was the day we found out she was gone). I guess it seems a little morbid, but he was our baby and we had plenty of dreams for him, and this is a great way to keep them and remember them. The bear is adorable, hand stitched and very soft. We call him the "Jackson bear. I envision giving this bear to our next child one day, a sweet reminder of his or her big brother in Heaven. I love it all!
While this week was very hard, and very emotional, I got through it. All of this helped me get through it. I felt myself return to some sort of normal again. No, I'll never be the same person as before our loss. The world is a different place now, but I can feel my life returning to some kind of normal, a new normal. I realized yesterday, as I burst into tears after school for the third time, that the tears didn't mean that I was going backward. I realized that the tears meant I was actually going forward, moving on. My heart is starting to understand that I have to keep on living, and persevere through this mess. I can't drag my feet anymore, I have to start walking. And it feels good! But, it breaks my heart that it feels good, and that's why the tears have come every day after work so far. Does that make sense?
I think that when you go through a loss like this, your feelings and emotions are so dull for a long time, and then all of a sudden they come back and are in FULL force. My old type of happy is extreme happy. My old type of teary eyed is full blown tears. My old sadness is broken. My old excitement is so exaggerated. I appreciate life and love and death so much more now. I think that's what being broken does to you. I realize how much life is worth living, and everything is just so much more extreme after that!
But I have to say, that I honestly think I am ok. No, I'm not better. I don't think I'll ever be "better" because that means I've gone back to how I was before. There is none of that. But I am ok. I love my life, I know that I am blessed, I know that I am loved, and I know that in so many other ways, I am lucky.