May 28, 2012

Right Where I Am: Fourteen Months, Four Days



Fourteen months and four days ago, my daughter died. In a freak accident, in my front yard, a week before she was due. I can say that now without crying, without wanting to crawl into a hole, without my guts doing somersaults. I can say that from the standing position, my back vertical, my toes curled up against the ground. I suppose this is one way to sum up right where I am:

I'm standing.

However wobbly, however shaken, however much I lean to the left, however much my shoulders hunch and my heart sags, I'm standing.

Gone are the days of slogging through the thick mud, on my belly, in the darkest of dark, pulling myself ahead by my fingernails, one tiresome inch at a time. Gone is the feeling of being hit by a bulldozer every time I wake up and remember what happened, that yes, my daughter really did die, and yes, this is my life. Gone are the screams, the meltdowns, the desire to dress myself in black and the insistence that every single friend understand my pain.

Call it progress or evolution or acceptance, but something changed after twelve and a half months, something shifted in my grief, tectonic like. The mud turned to dirt and the slogging turned to crawling and I found myself opening up again to the world, seeing colors, dreaming again, finding enjoyment outside of my wife and living daughter. I could tell even then, six weeks ago, that this wasn't going to be one of those brief moments of respite before going back to the mud again.

Margot - or at least the idea of her - is so much a part of me now, so integrated into my being, into my story and conversations and friendships and daily life, that the longing for her has subsided. The deep ache I once had for her isn't as intense because of this integration, this beautiful and abstract coalescence of our stories coming together. I don't physically feel her presence, or see her in rainbows or birds or visions, yet her story has altered my own so thoroughly that it feels like I carry her with me wherever I go. So much of who I've become over the past fourteen months is because of her and I am grateful for the transformation that has taken place within me, the gifts from her story, from her brief existence. 

For the first time in my life, I feel the full range of human emotion, both the elation and the sorrow, and it grounds me to the earth, to suffering in a way that I only knew in the past on a rational level. It's like seeing the color black for the first time, without turning my head away from it or wishing it away or dismissing it. And the color may be black, but acknowledging it feels like something, and the black sure makes the reds and shades of purple all the more beautiful.

Her story has also taught me how to live within the complexities of the happy and sad confines, knowing that each has it's limits and each could be followed up with the other, even in the same moment. I am sad and I am happy and some days these two emotions live together and some days they are lopsided, tilting me toward one or the other. But to be okay with sadness, to sit with it and process it and feel the heartache, without pushing it away or trying to get over it, feels so profoundly freeing.

There are moments when the pain makes all of these gifts seem worthless, moments when I miss her with the vivid rawness I experienced in the early days, moments when the normality of her death is met with an equal measure of incredulity. But they are moments now, spaced between the integration of her life into my own, spaced between the gifts, spaced between the beauty, however black and red and yellow the beauty may be.

__________________________

This post is part of Angie's epic Right Where I Am Project that was started last year. It's a way for the community of babyloss parents to capture the current state of their grief.  I wrote a post last year, 67 days after Margot died, and then took on my own project to capture the other 178 people who participated in the project last year.

42 comments:

Hope's Mama said...

Oh man, Josh. That last paragraph is just it, isn't it? Even at almost four years out, it still sometimes knocks the breath out of me and I want to rage and shake my fists all over again.
Mostly though, this is a happy life. As McCracken says, a happy life, but someone is missing.
Glad you guys are here along for the ride with us, though I of course wish you didn't have to be.
Love to you, Kari and your three beautiful kids.

Molly said...

They re so much a part of us now, that we don't look for them in rainbows... Omg. I have been trying to find the words. I was thinking it just today. I was obsessed with symbols, in nature and elsewhere, but they aren't as important anymore. Couldnt figure out why til I read that. Beautiful post. Thanks for the insight.

Jen said...

Josh, this post gives me hope that at some point I may turn a corner and it won't hurt so much every second of the day. Your paragraph on "gone are the days..." wow I related to everything you said. Why do I feel the need for everyone in my life to understand this pain? I feel like screaming about it some days. You post give me hope that healing is real. thank you for sharing where you are now.

loribeth said...

So beautifully said (as always), Josh. That first year is such a b*tch -- I think getting past it is a big landmark for most of us. So glad you are in a better place these days.

Brooke said...

I absolutely love the way you articulate the idea that when the longing softens, it's because you've integrated Margot as part of you, not because you've lost a connection with her in some way. It's so absolutely perfectly true--I just didn't have the words to say it until I read this. Thanks, Josh. What a gift.

still life angie said...

God, this is so beautiful. It is a long ache. I just loved this: "Her story has also taught me how to live within the complexities of the happy and sad confines, knowing that each has it's limits and each could be followed up with the other, even in the same moment." Knowing each has its limits. Exactly! This too shall pass--the good, the bad, the grief, the contentedness. It is just staying still in each moment, looking at it with curiosity and wonder, knowing it is fleeting, like our daughters. Grateful to know you and think of you and Kari as friends, or far-flung family. Thank you again, xo.

Curls O Fred said...

My first blog post was about seeing colors. Or the lack of colors. I like how you use the colors and the imagery of the black making the reds and yellows more beautiful. I always appreciate your writing, and am glad for the recent happiness that has come to balance things out, though lopsided they may lean at times. Sending love to you and yours. <3

Catherine W said...

moments when the normality of her death is met with an equal measure of incredulity

So perfectly put. It's very strange. I also feel that Georgina's death is normal now, I can tell people that I had twins and they were born very prematurely and one died and one survived with lots of intensive care. And it seems . . . fine. I can say it and still stand up.

Then there are still times when I catch my reflection in the mirror and think to myself. . . . really?? Really? That happened to me? To her? Incredulous and slack jawed.

But yes, these are only moments. Interspersed amongst the others. And to look at something coloured so very black full on, without turning my head away or wishing it were not so or dismissing it. Perhaps that does help us to see the other colours as they truly are. I hope so.

Remembering your beautiful Margot June.

KrystalK said...

You have a beautiful way with words Josh. Even writing about the most dark of pain, you can paint a beautiful picture with it.

Bree said...

"Margot - or at least the idea of her - is so much a part of me now, so integrated into my being, into my story and conversations and friendships and daily life, that the longing for her has subsided"

Dude. I feel the exact same way.

Angela said...

Your posts are always so profoundly good I find myself at a loss for words after reading. You capture the truths of losing a baby so well. Remembering Margot, thank you for adding your voice.

cullensblessings said...

Hey Josh- thank you for another beautiful post. Sending much hope and light your way...

Jamie said...

This is so beautifully written Josh. The way you are able to express what is happening in you is amazing. Thank you for this picture. Love you guys so very much.

Tash said...

"her story has altered my own so thoroughly that it feels like I carry her with me wherever I go."

Yes. I feel this too. Liam is forever interwoven into my being and my life.

Thank you for sharing where you are Josh. Brilliant post. Your words always give me hope.

Remembering Margot June always.

Much love to you guys. xx

Merry said...

The the mud turned to dirt. I remember that moment, or at least knowing the process had begun. That said, sometimes the baked earth and steady rock still swallow me up. I suppose it's an earthquake. I can go from smiling to crying in no seconds flat.

It surprises me more that I don't really resent it now. I didn't think it could become part of me, but it has.

Josh Jackson said...

Thanks Sally. Your words have taught me so much over the past year, and paved the way for where I am now. I love your family, all of your kids and your Baseball loving husband. And I'm so damn glad you and your photos are a part of my 3am feedings with Leo.

Love and peace and always your Hope,

Josh

Josh Jackson said...

Jen, I'm so sorry for the loss of your Angel. I remember nine months out, as you are, and how incredibly raw the pain still was. Like, shouldn't I be getting a little better by now? Shouldn't this feel easier or lighter or something? And instead, the losses on top of Margot's loss just kept piling up. Anger over the lack of support, lack of understanding, the loneliness, the toll physically, etc, etc.

I think everyone's journey is so different, and the timing is so different, and the circumstances. I have found so much truth in just letting the grief be the grief, without timelines or agendas. It's a long and arduous journey, isn't it?

Peace to you as you walk on. I hope healing comes, however it looks for you.

Josh Jackson said...

I agree! BITCH is right. And getting past it, like literally one day after a year, my wife and I looked at each other and remarked how, in some strange way, we made it.

Josh Jackson said...

Thanks Brooke for your kind words. I find so much solace in the community of the dead babies, like a communal articulation.

Hoping for The Deuce and checking in every day for any new updates. HOPE!

Josh Jackson said...

Thanks Molly! So happy to have shared so much of this journey with you and yours.

Josh Jackson said...

Far-flung family. You betcha. Thanks for stopping by and for the encouragement and for starting this brilliant thing called RWIA.

Josh Jackson said...

Thanks Rachel for your kind words.

Josh Jackson said...

Yes, Catherine, living in this dichotomy can be so tricky sometimes. And I have found that part of accepting her death is accepting this new life full of happy and sad, to put it plainly.

Glad to be sharing this journey with you my friend.

Josh

Josh Jackson said...

Thank-you for your kind words here. I think of your Stella often and I'm so sorry she isn't here.

Josh Jackson said...

Dude. I'm so thankful to share this journey with you. Seriously.

Josh Jackson said...

Thanks Angela. This community, our words strung out together, is so wonderful. I'm at a loss for words too.

Josh Jackson said...

Thanks Leslie for your kind words. We are checking in often on your little C's. God I can only imagine a sliver of what your days are like right now. Peace to you, as much as possible right now.

Josh Jackson said...

Thanks sister, for always reading, always reaching out. I love you to bits.

Josh Jackson said...

Hey my friend. Thank-you for your words. Liam is one of the little people who I think about nearly every day. Lots of love and peace to you guys as you navigate the long road ahead.

Josh Jackson said...

An earthquake. I get this. I can go weeks without feeling the dirt on my face and then suddenly, I'm sitting in a chair without words, feeling lost in my sadness over my missing daughter. It comes and goes and I'm getting used to it now. Thanks for stopping by.

Arcadia said...

I hope you don't mind me saying, it's a relief to finally hear a male voice - you're the first one I have come across. The taboo of male emotion, the pressure for them to be 'strong and silent' is one I have never experienced as strongly as in watching the world ignore that our son had two parents - a Mother AND a Father. I find myself saying often, "He lost his son, too." You have a wonderful way with words, and your three children are just beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story.

Jeanette said...

Josh, you write so clearly with love for your wife and your three beautiful children. It is hard to believe all this happened to any of us, I often catch myself incredulous too.x

Jessica said...

Beautiful words ... I am sure Margot is blowing you kisses and loving hearing how much her daddy misses her. I often like to think that there is a special place in Heaven where all of our children that left us too soon all play together and that one day all the children and babyloss parents will be reunited and we can thank each other for the outpouring of love and support...I hope that place does exist. I hope Margot and Riley, Peyton, and Cameron are all great friends...thank you for sharing your love for all your family with us...

Nicole said...

Josh, you write so beautifully, painting such a clear picture of it all. I read your post to my husband tonight and he cried. He loved your writing and he felt so connected to your words, as do I. That happy and sad coexistence is so real to me. I'm so sorry about your sweet Margot. I went back through your blog and did some reading and crying. Your family is so gorgeous. Thank you for sharing precious Margot with us. Thank you also for your comment on my blog. It's nice to have others to relate to on this journey. Love to you and your beautiful family.

Anonymous said...

My heart has ached for your family. Your words and experience have affected my perceptions and appreciation of being able to conceive, being able to carry a baby to term, being able to birth a live baby with the health of both mother and baby intact. I thought I had realized what a 'miracle gift' life truly is but it wasn't until you shared your story that it became so real. I'm so happy there has been a shift for you. Your words have articulated exactly where I have been after a loss of someone very dear, a loss that still paralyzes me sometimes, even after 5 years. I just really appreciate you sharing and putting words to it because it takes away some of the isolation and lonliness that grief brings. Thank you for sharing Margot, she has changed me and I'll always be grateful to her for that. Glad you are on firmer ground.

DandelionBreeze said...

Love you post and can hear the love you have for your daughter in your every word. I'm so sorry to hear her story and feel your you and your family. Thank you for stopping by my blog.... and can picture Gabrielle and Margot playing together somewhere with all the other beloved angel babies xoxo

Suzanne said...

Oh, Josh, this is so beautiful. It's weird, isn't it, how you can know at some turning points that things are just going to be different. That is one thing that has surprised me - I've had one turning point in the grief, it happened at about 9 1/2 months, when I felt the shift of Nathaniel being gone for about as long as he was alive. It was like I stepped into a new chapter of grief, and there was no going back. And that made me sad for a moment, but I must admit that there is relief.

I'm still crazy, though. Crazy in my grief. I hope for more groundedness someday. Less simple pain every day. Most days, just being is still painful.

My favorite description: Margot - or at least the idea of her - is so much a part of me now, so integrated into my being, into my story and conversations and friendships and daily life, that the longing for her has subsided. The deep ache I once had for her isn't as intense because of this integration, this beautiful and abstract coalescence of our stories coming together. I don't physically feel her presence, or see her in rainbows or birds or visions, yet her story has altered my own so thoroughly that it feels like I carry her with me wherever I go. So much of who I've become over the past fourteen months is because of her and I am grateful for the transformation that has taken place within me, the gifts from her story, from her brief existence.

I don't have integration. I'm still checked out of my life before, still waiting to decide how and what and when to step back in...

Mary Beth said...

"I can say that now without crying, without wanting to crawl into a hole, without my guts doing somersaults. I can say that from the standing position, my back vertical, my toes curled up against the ground. "

This, right here, is something miraculous, right? I mean, all that time ago, would you ever believe it could be so ever again?

Love every word of this, Josh. It makes me feel so much less alone in all of this.

Love to you guys, always.
xo

Fireflyforever said...

"Margot - or at least the idea of her - is so much a part of me now, so integrated into my being, into my story and conversations and friendships and daily life, that the longing for her has subsided."

Yes. That is exactly it. My own RWIA post talked about being infused with Emma, about her soaking into my organs so, yup, I get this completely. Thank you for your eloquent words.

erica said...

Standing is huge. And, as I remember after reading your words here, standing marks a real change from those days when just breathing felt huge.

And this - "But to be okay with sadness, to sit with it and process it and feel the heartache, without pushing it away or trying to get over it, feels so profoundly freeing." - God, yes. It took me a long time to get there, but it was a huge relief when I did.

Thank you so much for this post. Remembering your Margot and sending love to you and yours.

Maria said...

Wearing black! I have started wearing other colours in this past month. I couldn't bring myself to wear a colour that didn't reflect the colour of my feelings.

Thank you.

hugs
Maria
xxxxx

Daniegirl said...

Your writing is so beautiful that I feel you might have already read this. But I wanted to leave it for you anyways.


[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
By E. E. Cummings
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Post a Comment

Slideshow