January 2, 2012

Evening By Evening : A Scattered Review of 2011

One of my kids runs around the living room making mischief in her underwear, her heart beating miraculously, while the remains of my other kid rest softly in a little brown and gold box from Budapest, which sits on a shelf in our living room, next to the rocks from her river, next to the photograph of water, next to the necklace with her name on it. I'm as used to this reality as I am shocked by it.

This was 2011.

We spent the majority of our evenings on the couch, heads on either end, feet tangled in the middle, talking about our new reality. After long days with Stella, with work, the evenings were our time to sit openly with our grief, to face the sadness and heartache without worrying about how it affected Stella or how it affected our friends. We wept and cried. We lit candles. We counseled one another through anger and jealousy and guilt. We stared at the ceiling in disbelief. We held each other fervently, allowing a decade of flourishing and perpetual love to wash over our brokenness. Evening by evening, we faced the darkness, hoping enough evenings would accumulate to slowly heal our aching hearts.

Our days were spent with our Stella, who turned two in February and never looked back. She potty trained the week before her second birthday and marveled us with her words. Hearing her talk is like a dream coming true, slowly and steadily, always inevitable but still surprising. By summer she was screaming out little sentences and by December she was successfully negotiating with us. Our little firecracker of a girl, so full of life, of jokes, of independence. The burden of 2011 was surely eased by the joy of watching her live so fiercely.

We made two new friends that I think will be around for the rest of our lives, a rare gift in the complicated scheme of life.

We lived in community as we have always imagined, with our housemates who rock the floors above us, with our friends who live ten houses down, with our gang that gets together for wine and vegetarian food.

Everything else about the year seems trivial, forgettable, barely worth a mention.

Perhaps the most stunning thing I can think of, on this warm January morning, is that we made it this far. We haven't completely lost our minds. We haven't lost our substance. And in the ocean of sorrow we find ourselves in, we are facing the waves and undertow and storms with as much courage and tenacity as we can muster. We are still here, clawing forward, somewhat intact, and this feels like something to cautiously smile about.


Jeanette said...

Wishing you peace for 2012

Mary Beth said...

"I'm as used to this reality as I am shocked by it." That's it right there.

May 2012 bring you lots of happiness and some peace.

Your Stella sounds just amazing.


Kate said...

That was the line that stuck out the most for me too Josh (that Mary Beth quoted). As well as the rest of it. You and Kari seem incredibly connected in your grief and love and life. How blessed you are there, with that.
It's true too, the joy that my boys bring me and how they're growing and changing and talking. The bring daily hilarity (sp?) and are such a tonic, the light amoungst the dark.
Beautiful and powerful words Josh. Wishing you peace, joy and happiness in 2012. To all of you.

brianna said...

"And in the ocean of sorrow we find ourselves in, we are facing the waves and undertow and storms with as much courage and tenacity as we can muster."

I would also add with as much grace, honesty and love as I have ever seen.


Renel said...

Sigh...Happy to bring in the new year with all the hopes and expectations we can muster after catastrophe. I try and remember some of 2011 as being happy with pregnancy and the joy of a growing family. this joy however is overshadowed by the tragedy. I have to consciously remind myself of the happiness that was present during the year. Saying good riddance to a year that also saw my son turn two, grow and thrive as Stella did...how can I forget that or say good riddance to the beauty that was the experience of watching our first child grow and thrive and BE. It is difficult to navigate. I am so glad you and your wife can share and communicate so well about the death of your child. I wish for that in mine. Based on the great family photos of your christmas I can see that 2012 will be a wonderful year for you and your family. Sending love.

Groves said...

The strength and deep connectedness of your relationship with Kari is something that has not flickered. Margot's death and all the trauma surrounding it has revealed, vividly, what your love for each other is.

I treasure that picture of feet tangled in the middle of the couch.

I also treasure hearing about Stella, a remarkable, lively, intelligent, brave little girl if there ever was one.

And the space of Margot's missing person in this warm home, with all of you, hurts so badly. I want, I want, I want...things that can't be had. You want them far more than I do.

Cathy in Missouri

Fireflyforever said...

I haven't cried much since Christmas - I think I got all cried out - but this brought the tears ... not just of sadness but recognition and respect too. Making it this far, in love and in it together is worthy of a smile, I think.

Hope's Mama said...

Glad to have found you in 2011. But in the same breath, I wish I didn't.

Tash said...

As always your words touch my heart Josh. This new reality without Margot and Liam is something else isn't it. Every moment we spend is another moment without them.. After Liam died one of the first things Justin said to me through heart renching tears was that we had each other. Grief is so individual but if there is one person who gets your grief it's your partner, the other parent to your lost child. I'm so happy that you guys have each other. Those moments spent on the sofa sound very familiar.
Now your Stella sounds amazing, she's beautiful by the way. I'm so glad that you guys have her,i'm sure that she smooths out some of the pain.

You really inspire me, your story, your healing and how you thread it all together for us to share in your journey. I read all of your posts, I nod, I cry, i'm here listening too.

Peaceful weekend to you and please know that I think of your Margot often.


Caroline said...

I love reading your blog. I love how much love you have for both your girls and how well you share it with us. I hope that 2012 is a good year for you. That you can look back and actually say it was a "good" year. You certainly deserve that.

michelle said...

Its so good that you and your wife share such a deep connectedness over your grief and loss. My husband is not a sharing, open person when it comes to his feelings but his unspoken gestures sometimes speak volumes. I am so glad that you have Stella to give light too your path. Wishing you all peace and comfort.

Post a Comment