When the literature from Compassionate Friends came a couple weeks ago, I read (or maybe hearing on the video on the website) that ‘you’ll never be the same again’. At the time I remember wondering what they meant by that. How will we never be the same? Over the last couple weeks I’ve started to notice how everything seems to be different. Maybe not on the outside, but just beneath the surface. I’m starting to realize that I’ve lost that invisible armor that protects you from getting hurt. This morning Catherine and I were listening to the song “Lava” that was the short before the movie “Inside Out” and when it got to the part where the volcano went under the water and filled the ocean with his tears I couldn’t stop crying. Even though I knew the silly short had a happy ending just the idea that the volcano was so heartbroken was more than I could handle. It took hours to recover. Will my heart forever be this sensitive to someone else’s deep pain? Is that what they meant about never being the same?
After those few stormy hours I was so looking forward to tonight: dinner and a movie. First dinner with Estelle where she helped me work through a writing project idea. Then thanks to Michelle we joined a group of women, mostly moms, for a movie night at her house. She lavished us with wine (sorry I have to pass – still a nursing mom) and chocolate (I’ll pass too – makes me break out in fat and nursing doesn’t seem to help) and popcorn while we watched the hilarious movie “Mom’s Night Out”. I settled in for a fun two hours where I could leave my sorrows at the door and just relax and feel safe. For the most part I laughed so hard I thought my head was going to explode. It was constant non-stop comedy without trying to be funny, if that makes any sense. It was amazing to laugh through a movie that didn’t resort to bad language or profanity to be funny. Wow. And it had an inspiring message to boot!
So here we were a group of lovely ladies all enjoying an over the top funny movie and what was I doing? Crying! I never thought I’d be thankful that there were clips in the credits so the lights stayed off long enough for me to compose myself. And it wasn’t because there was anything really sad in the movie. At one point one of the moms is crying because she feels like a failure and the biker dude tells her that the only one she’s not good enough for is herself, that God loves her just the way she is and then at the end the same mom’s husband tells her that being a mom is important. He even used the phrase “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”. Normally I would have felt encouraged by the movie but instead I found myself feeling like a complete and utter failure as a mother, so much so that I cost my child her life. All I could think about was: if only I’d taken my important job more seriously and been more attentive, if only I’d listened to my gut and taken Bernadette to the doctor back in June, if only, if only, if only, if I’d done my job then Bernadette might be alive today. No it wasn’t just myself I wasn’t good enough for, it was Bernadette.
It’s very unsettling to realize that it’s not just hearing Bernadette’s name or seeing her art work or her picture on the wall or coming across one of her toys that triggers a memory that acts like a knife that reopens those wounds and causes them to bleed all over again, it can also be a song, a movie line, a thought, or even an innocent comment. There really is no escape. Is this what they meant when they said we’ll never be the same? I don’t know. I know nothing. That’s not true. I did learn something tonight, There is something almost as dangerous as drinking and driving: crying and driving. Night driving is not my favorite driving condition, driving in the rain ranks worse. Tonight I discovered driving while crying is NOT a good idea either. When it’s raining there are windshield wipers to clear your vision. When the water distorting that vision is right on your eyes and you don’t have that luxury of wipers it doesn’t make for great driving conditions!!! I wonder if the police hand out tickets for driving while under the influence – of grief.