Friday, January 11, 2013

Learning How to Breathe

Like an accident victim re-learning how to walk after months in bed, I am slowly beginning to re-learn how to breathe. 

After Aidan died--it will be two months tomorrow--I felt like I had to remind myself to breathe. I had to push each breath out deliberately, or it would lie too long in my lungs. It helped if I pushed on my chest, right in the middle, at the top of my ribcage. After the exhale, I'd wait to inhale, expecting that if I waited long enough, when I started breathing again, things would be different. Aidan would still be here. Aidan would still be breathing. 

(I have to use his real name, and not his Peevie moniker, because being whimsical just doesn't feel right any more. My whimsy is gone, at least when I'm talking about Aidan.)

I have made progress in the breathing department, but I am still lost and confused and empty with regard to every other aspect of life. How do I go back to work? How do I read books about anything other than grief and loss? How do I tell jokes, and laugh, and find beauty in the world? 

Maybe it's too soon for any of these things.

How do I answer when someone asks me how I'm doing? It's a normal question. It's not wrong that people ask me; in fact, I understand that they say it to be encouraging, to express love and support.

How am I doing? Here are my answers: Nothing is as it should be. Shitty. Empty. Sad. Bereft. I finally started to cry, after four weeks of wondering where my tears were.Like a blanket of fog is hanging low over the architecture of my life, touching and obscuring everything, dampening or deadening all pleasure and enjoyment.

I'm reading (and re-reading) everything I can about grief and loss. So far I've read Lament for a Son, by Nicholas Wolterstorff; The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion; The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis; and I'm halfway through a collection of essays called Be Still My Soul, edited by Nancy Guthrie.

I still want to talk about Aidan all the time, remember him, have people remember him to me. I don't really want to talk about books or movies or politics or celebrity gossip or anything that doesn't directly connect to Aidan. I remember this feeling after Caitlin died. I remember that for a year after we lost her, our first child, born prematurely and living only two hours, the most important thing you could know about me was that we had a baby and she died.

And now this is The Thing that defines me: the lack of Aidan. There is no Aidan--at least, not on this earth.

I am clinging to Aidan's things in his room, to Manny, his stuffed manatee, to his poems, to photos of Aidan sitting on the beach writing in his journal, goofing around with his friends or siblings, smiling into the camera with his gentle, sweet grin.

And with feeble faith, I cling also to the hope of the resurrection, and to God's promise:

We believe that Jesus died and rose again; and so it will be for those who have died in Christ. God will raise them to be with the Lord forever. Comfort one another with these words. --I Thessalonians 4:14, 17-18


Ailisha said...

"Nothing is as it should be." :(

I love to "hear" you talk about Aidan -- don't stop anytime soon. Wish I had more stories about him myself.

Vic said...

"When you're dreaming with a broken heart, waking up is the hardest part." John Mayer (channeling Vic)

jeanie said...

I cried as I read this, I'm still crying. It is good --to cry -I am grateful you've found your tears.

jkww said...

Crying with you. And thinking of a bunch of different song lyrics. Mostly U2.

Les and I keep being reminded of Aiden by the fact that the few listenable radio stations out here play "Moves Like Jagger" on regular rotation. And we smile, and feel sad, remembering Aiden dance around and sing that song about himself while he hit ping pong balls that Les could not return.

And you're right - nothing is as it should be.

Phil said...

I am crying for your son, my son, every son that is loved by His parents and God.

studioGypsy said...

crying with you now. and loving you so. xoxo

zabyt said...

Thank you for sharing! I too am crying as I read your passage. I want to hear Aidan stories, I want to remind you to breathe and to tell you that you are doing it. You are grieving and grieving well. You are present to the emotion, and still sharing the joy and excitement for your other children. You are really a strong and amazing person. Know it and know that others are humbled by it.