Most people would look at this picture and laugh. The lady at the grocery store probably looked at me, saw parents with two small boys and a grocery cart full of food and just chalked it up to motherhood. It’s not that.
I woke every hour last night and kept checking the clock. Luke came into the bedroom this morning and said “when are you getting up? It’s afternoon already!” I shot up in bed, petrified that it actually was. Grabbed my phone, it was 6:45am.
The morning has crawled, even though we grocery shopped and had to put everything away and make lunches.
Do you know how hard it is to think when you’re in the thick of PTSD?
To make a decision?
To remember you need to do something?
I spilled something all over the floor while putting our groceries away and when I looked down, I saw my shoes. Two different shoes on my feet. The boys said “we didn’t see them” when I asked why someone didn’t tell me. I nearly cried. I could feel it in my throat.
Who does this?
I said a dozen times in my head.
I walked outside to do something on the deck and as I stood there, my neighbor yelled down to her son in the yard and that was it. I broke.
All I could think was:
I should be walking out the door and yelling for Toby down in the yard. Not standing here fearing the next week.
This. Is. Life.
This. Is. Grief.
It is always the day before that it hits me.
Year four and nothing has changed.
Today and the next weeks.
It’s the nightmare, in real life, that we will live through.
It is an insurmountable amount of pain, tears, ache, anger, fear, loneliness, psychological exhaustion that will drown us on the days to come.
It starts today. It starts with guilt. Guilt that I will never outgrow or outrun, no matter what I try.
As a parent you are responsible for keeping your children safe. But, what happens if you can’t? How do you live with that?
What if I would have changed one thing, one piece of the day before, or that morning, would it have been enough to change the course of events that forever changed our lives?
That’s what a grieving parent lives with.
It is what haunts our nights, days, mornings, afternoons, hours, minutes. Every single thought.
The hospital room.
The people staring.
The medical team telling you, “there was nothing else we could do.”
Pulling into the driveway and knowing your baby is alone, even if his heart is no longer beating.
Opening the refrigerator to bottles pre-made that morning for bedtime.
Going to the cemetery and picking not only your infants final resting place, but your own.
People talking to you about flowers and food and funeral arrangements and all the while you are sitting there thinking “is this really happening?”
Seeing your son in his casket and having to find the words for how he looks, while not completely losing it all.
Trying to get out of bed five days after your child died to get dressed and have yourself put together for a funeral mass.
Sitting in a church completely packed with people, but feeling so completely alone.
Standing at a graveside, not wanting to walk away because it will be the last time you can reach out and touch your baby.
Not being able to remember the 100’s of people you talked to or saw in two days.
Sitting in your bedroom listening to the humming of voices downstairs in your house, but not knowing who is down there or remembering if you even spoke to them that day.
Sitting on your kitchen floor days after your baby boys funeral and not hearing one single thing. Silence so deafening that it makes you crazy.
You’re alone. The world and everyone in it has gone back to their lives, and schedules, and plans.
And yet, you stand in front of an empty crib, where seven days before, your baby laid.
Beautiful. Thriving. Laughing.
So happy to see your face.
This. All of this. Is what we relive, as if it was happening over again, starting today and lasting for the next weeks.
This is life.
This is PTSD for parents who have had to live through the most traumatic experience of their lives.
This is grief and loss.