It was January, 2010 that we began a torrid journey filled with blood tests, doctor's appointments, procedures and ultimately, disappointment. We had already waded through extended disappointment and letdowns, but they were never backed up with actual medical information before that moment. They were just occasions of, perhaps, dumb luck or terrible irony. This, like everything else, would work itself out---that was a logical choice.
But, it did not. The Day soon arrived; the one that changed everything and ultimately, took a piece of my heart. It deserves capitalization, no? I remember it well. I know what I was wearing. I know the date. I recall the time. I know, all too well, the moment a phone call shattered my heart into tiny pieces. It is still familiar to me, despite the distance a year that has thankfully wedged between us. Ultimately, it is a day of sadness--but not in the way you might think.
It is sadness that I feel for the person I was before that day, not just the news we received. I grieve for the person who hoped and I'm sad for the person who dreamed and wished for something that will likely never happen. The naive girl who believed in miracles and everything working itself out perfectly--she was the one who was hurt the most that day. She's the one I grieve for on this anniversary.
But the girl who dreamed of exciting moments and happy surprises had her heart broken. Instead of happy announcements, tears of joy and daydreams, I was handed orders for tests and procedures and surgery instead. It was as though one was completely replaced by the other, and it's hard to put that part of the experience behind me. Truthfully, remnants of "that part" still remain.
No one tells you that it sometimes doesn't work out. No one tells you what it feels like to be told that you are broken. You are never taught how to deal with the inability to have children, and there's no preparation for the ache your soul feels from constant, shattering, disappointment. It cannot be taught; it just has to be lived.
Back then I was angry, hurt and numb. I didn't know how to feel or what to say or deal with the ever-present pain that left me feeling like I couldn't breathe. I was scared--petrified even--of someone asking me about having children. It terrified me to think that someone would ask me a question that would pour salt into a gaping wound and I would do or say something awful in return. Mostly, it infuriated me that having children was something that everyone was "supposed" to do and no one seemed to realize that assumption was hurtful. So, I walked a tightrope; I struggled to keep my balance while waiting for someone to knock me over with a question.
So, I started talking instead of idly waiting. I began telling people our story because it was the only way I could begin to wash away the misery and take a shred of control back from my life, which was careening out of control. I told people who couldn't keep secrets. I told people who loved to gossip and soon enough, the questions stopped. Then, the questions started to change; they came from a loving place, rather than one that drove a knife through my already-bleeding heart. Vocalizing my pain, putting a sad melody to words, was like opening the curtains to let the sunshine in again.
Granted, there are still "those" questions and plenty of un-warranted advice thrown my way, but I rarely lose my balance anymore. I don't smile and nod at people who make ridiculous suggestions--get a massage, take a vacation, let my friend who has this friend who knows this guy touch your shoulder--I tell them how ignorant they are and stand my ground. I can't control much, but this is within my power. I never let an opportunity to show people how I would like to be treated pass me by, because I'm the only one who knows the words to that song. And I sing it every opportunity I get.
But, it's only been a year since The Day. People love to say trite things in an attempt to make you feel better, but the truth is this wound isn't one that will ever be healed by the hands of time. Some wounds, the ones that cut you to the core, don't ever heal completely. Time offers us distance and blurs the edges a bit, but it doesn't have the strength to make your pain any less real than it was the day it was born into your life. Time doesn't answer the rhetorical questions or make sense of your devastation; it just gives you an opportunity to put the remaining pieces back together. Besides, time alone cannot heal anything; it's what you do during that time that allows a thin scar to cover your wounds.
I have begun to let go because it's the only way to survive, the only way to really begin to live in faith and hope again. An important part of dealing with grief is acknowledging that something has been lost--something that was important to you. That day was, and still is, a day of loss. The moment I realized that, things began to make sense again. It's not about pushing that part away or hiding it in some place to deal with later, because it will just bob back to the surface again. That part of my life, the one where I can't have children, will never go away. I have to simply learn to live with it instead. Some days, it's a whisper. Other days, it's a dull roar. Whatever it may be, we have to learn to exist together.
There is little in this life that we can control. We will be dealt painful blows. Our existence will be turned upside down, spilling the contents everywhere. The bad will sometimes outnumber the good. Those are, unfortunately, guarantees. But in the end, after the dust settles and the time slowly creeps by, the light will shine again. The aspects of our life that were thrown into a chaotic orbit will find a new, perhaps better, place to exist. You will find new ways to define your life and your inspiration and happiness will arrive in unfamiliar packages--those too are guarantees.
In the grand picture of my life, a year isn't much of anything. But in this case, time will continue to march on whether I'd like it to or not, and with it will bring the opportunity to heal. The chance to become whole again. And that's an anniversary worth celebrating.