Being overwhelmingly sad is exhausting. It’s a heavy weight to bear day after day. I’m tired of it already. And I know I’ll carry it forever. I think it’s a lot like training for the half marathon. The mileage will always be the same. 13.1 miles will always be 13.1 miles. But if I tried to run it a month ago, it would have been very difficult. I’m not sure I would have made it. I’m making slow progress in my training. I took so much time off and have never been a strong runner to begin with. But I’m moving forward, even if it’s slow. And come February, I’m sure I’ll make it through the 13.1 miles under the time limit and still moving forward. It will still be 13.1 miles but I’ll be stronger than I am today. I don’t believe the pain of losing Zoey will ever be lessened. Losing her will hurt just as badly 10 or 30 years from now. You don’t “get over” or “move on” from that kind of pain. But I’ll get stronger and better able to bear the weight of it. And in the meantime, I will keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Last weekend I skipped my cousin’s daughter’s first birthday party. It just seemed overwhelming to watch her open her presents and try cake for the first time. But it makes me angry. I’m upset that going to her party would hurt too much. I’m mad they offered to skip Thanksgiving—but not mad at them. They are sweet, wonderful people who are trying to protect me, do what’s best for Joe and me. No, I’m mad that seeing their beautiful little girl does hurt —that seeing any little girl hurts. I want to be a part of her life. I want to be able to enjoy all the babies in my life. But I know it’s going to rip at my broken heart a little more. It will be a delicate balance over the holidays. A huge part of me wants to run away and not participate in any part of them. But there’s the other side: the side that knows our family has lost so much. So many of our loved ones are gone and we need to cling to those that are still here.
There are days I want to hide from the world. Days like today. I am trying to participate in life, but I am also setting limits. The birthday party would have been too much, but I want my cousin and his family at Thanksgiving. I skipped a fun event at work today. But I taught my class at the Y. I know the coming days and weeks will put an extra strain on both Joe and me. It was a year ago that we confirmed Zoey’s diagnosis. And it will be the first time we have to get through the holidays when we know she should be here with us. There will be events we join and some we skip. I hope everyone has patience and understands. I hope everyone knows that I really am trying. I hope they know I’m not angry at them. That there’s just only so much my heart can handle at the moment. I will get stronger. I will join in the world a little more often. Find more joy again, little by little.
The last few days have been rough. Actually, the last two months, the last year…have been rough. But the last few days I have either been awake at 4am or unable to go to sleep at bedtime. My mind has been wandering and racing. And not to the good, beautiful memories, but to the ones that hurt. The last night of her life. Handing her over. I try to drown them out and redirect. I’m only occasionally successful. I can’t even pinpoint a trigger. It doesn’t help that Joe has been out of town for the last two weeks so when I’d usually reach over to touch him or ask for a hug, I come up empty.
Tonight I’m cuddling my “Zoey bear” instead of my daughter. She’s the bear I ordered from the Molly Bears organization. She weighs 6.1 pounds. Zoey’s weight at birth. Zoey weighed nearly the same amount when she died. When I first picked up the box the bear arrived in, it felt too heavy. But the longer I hold her, the more she feels like my baby girl. I sobbed the first time I held her like I held Zoey. I so miss her weight against my chest. A stuffed bear can’t replace Zoey, but I’m thankful for something to cuddle– and isn’t she wonderful with her little tutu and anchor on her chest?
I’m also thankful for my friends who have been sharing their Zoey stories with me. One friend looked to Zoey for strength after a marathon and stumbled across the Anchor Bar & Grill. Another told me how Zoey stopped by in a dream wearing sparkly pink boots. Amazing how you can cry and smile at the same time!
I’m focusing on training for my run and am working yoga into my routine. I’m hoping to quiet my mind and work on that “peace”. I continue to be amazed at the love and support I receive. It helps me get through those sleepless times and helps me keep hope for finding my way.