How life looks without her

Wednesday is Genevieve’s birthday, and you would think that I had just left the hospital after having her. That first year, I quit my job (which I was going to be laid off from anyway because of restructuring), went back to school to become a nurse, and ran a half-marathon. Nothing mattered to me outside of Greg, Eleanor, and Genevieve, but I knew that I had to keep moving forward. Any time I had an idea, I latched on and threw myself into it.

Every year when I reach Genevieve’s birthday, it’s as though I’m reliving that whole year in the span of a week. In the past 24 hours, I have gone from “Maybe we should have another baby,” to “I can’t possibly stay home anymore. I need a full-time job.”

It always takes me a while to realize what’s happening, that I’ve spiraled into my mid-July funk. I know that I’m going to be upset around her birthday. I await the sobbing and the sad movie watching and the ice cream eating. There is some of that. But mostly there is the feeling that I am suffocating. I make no plans for the week because I expect to be sad, and then I regret that I’m spending so much time sitting around thinking about her. I need to do something to feel better. The only way to feel better is to let the days pass.

Greg arrived home from work today and listened to five minutes of my panicked ramblings. Henry had just had a diaper explosion, and I hadn’t yet checked to see if his shirt had been hit because I needed to attend to our dinner, burning on the stove. And Eleanor’s dance class began in 30 minutes, so it was time to shovel in the sad meal I had prepared. Also, could he collect her dance shoes and leotard and also load her bike in my trunk because we were meeting friends at the park right after dance? Also, Eleanor had told me earlier in the day that I looked angry at her, which had made me feel like a terrible mother because I hand’t been angry at the time, just exhausted of trying to maintain normalcy during the most abnormal week. And Greg did everything I asked and acted as though I were a perfectly reasonable person.

People sometimes compliment me for my good cooking, for the fact that I serve my kids a lot of vegetables, for my clean house. Sometimes my life looks good. And sometimes my kids are eating “crispy” potatoes that came out mushy and undercooked broccoli that is chunky instead of finely chopped into a bruschetta and bread that is flipped so the burned side is down. “What is this, Mom?” Eleanor asks.

This is the part that others don’t see. This is us accepting things that didn’t turn out as we had hoped.

3 thoughts on “How life looks without her

  1. Sarah, this week. I can hear it in your tone and through your words. It’s beautiful and damning all at once. One thing is for sure; your love for Genevieve is evident and beautiful (coming from someone who will repeat all of your words in 5 months).

  2. Sarah, as someone who hasn’t hit that first birthday/anniversary yet and has NO idea what we’ll do to “celebrate” it, I appreciate your honesty. The truth is, I know I won’t feel like celebrating but I will also want to honor Lydia’s life. And our love for her. I hope you find some moments of peace this week. Thinking of you and Genevieve.

  3. Oh the birthday week is exhausting. I clear my schedule as well and then wonder if distractions would be better. So hard.

    And what you said about acceptance rings so true for me. My plan B is not so bad, unless you’re comparing it to plan A. You know, the version of my life where ALL my kids are alive and well.

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