I read an article a while ago that sparked this post. I shared the article on Facebook, so some of you may have read it. In it, the mother writes "People comment on how “strong” my husband and I are. I don’t want to be strong, I want to be normal. There is nothing strong about living without your child. We don’t have any other choice but to go on without her; to go on living some semblance of a life while constantly missing her. There is no other option."
I've thought about this a lot since we lost Carter, and even more so since we lost our little girl, and now, after our miscarriage. People are always telling us how strong we are. We, like the mom that wrote the article, don't want to be strong. Trust me, I would love to have both my babies here and have people tell me I'm weak all day long. I would far take that over losing our babies and having to be strong. It takes so much work to be "strong." It is so hard to wake up every single day, get out of bed, eat, go to work, put a smile on my face, and help people with things when all I really want to do is scream and go home to sit in the empty nursery. At the end of the day, I barely have energy to sit on the couch with my eyes open. Some days I just want to drag myself outside, crawl into the backseat of my car and stay in the parking lot at work, because going home means I have to get up and do it all again the next day.
I don't want to be strong because I feel like the more I put on a show, the less people will remember our children and what we are going through. I don't want to be strong because I feel like the harder I try to be okay, the less I remember my own grief, and in turn, the less I remember our kids.
You think I'm strong because you don't see what happens when you aren't around. I put on a face for you because I don't want you to cry for me. I don't want to ruin your day the way all my days are ruined. I don't want you to feel even an ounce of the hurt I'm feeling, because no one deserves that. So you think I'm strong, because I'm spending my energy being strong for you.
But you don't see what happens when I'm by myself. When a song comes on the radio that reminds of Carter dancing in my belly. When I get home and can't make it up the steps because I'm physically tired from all the emotional pain. When I'm crying so hard that I can't breathe. When the skin around my mouth dries out because I drool a little when I cry. When anxiety sets in and I'm hovered over the toilet trying to simultaneously quell my crying and not throw up. When I get so angry that I throw the nearest non-breakable items until my arms are tired. When Brandon's shirt is soaked through with my tears. When we sit on the floor holding each other until the pain lessens. When every sentence about our children is a little stilted because we can't help but get choked up every time we talk about them. When we sit at the cemetery wondering how this is our life.
It's nice that people think we're doing well, and that we are being tough and putting on our game faces, but it's a lot of work. It's hard to not just call in to work every day. It's hard to not just lay my head down on my desk and will away the world. It's hard to come home to an empty house, or leave with an empty backseat. It's hard to live with an empty heart.
You can tell me I'm strong, but just know that you're lying. Maybe lying isn't the best word. Just know that you're wrong. I do things the way I do because I don't have a choice. Falling apart is not a choice because we have to keep going. Putting our lives on hold for grief is not a choice because time moves on and we have to learn to incorporate grief into our everyday routine. Giving up on myself is not a choice because at the very end of the day, I am all I have; I am the only one that controls my thoughts and emotions. Forgetting to live is not a choice, because my heart still beats for myself and our children, and there is so much potential for our little family. We have to live for that potential.
So you may think we're strong, but to us, breathing and living without our children is just a hard thing we have to do every day. It's routine but not, all at the same time. We're not just strong, we're loss parents, and this is our life.