I had sort of a difficult time choosing my photo for today. One, I don’t have very many pictures of myself since losing Owen. I didn’t like being the subject of any while I was losing the weight I gained while pregnant, and since then, there haven’t been very many opportunities. Most of the pictures I have are selfies I took with the cats…not exactly fitting. I asked Zach if he had taken any, and I found one that I knew was perfect for this particular challenge.
I wrote yesterday about how I was afraid when we first decided to carry Owen to term. I thought if he died, we’d never be happy again. I had read some frightening statistics about the difficulties couples face after losing a child, not to mention the individual struggle. This picture reminds me that my fears have not come true. Zach and I are still together, perhaps stronger in some ways than we were before. More to the point, I’m happy. We’re happy.
In the early days of grief, I would have never imagined this was possible. I knew that we were changed irrevocably and life could never be the same. Lately though, I’ve realized that, yes, we are irrevocably changed and life won’t ever be the same, but that doesn’t preclude joy. The first several months of grieving were (are) brutal. It’s a slow process of learning how to be so very sad while simultaneously leaving the house without breaking down. Using such an overwhelming amount of energy just to get out of bed and dressed means there’s not much attention left to be paid toward happiness. For a long time, simply breathing required so much strength. I couldn’t figure out how we’d ever genuinely laugh again. But now? I’ve learned to integrate my grief and Owen’s memory into my day. It’s not always seamless and required a lot of practice, but someday I’m sure I’ll do it almost effortlessly. I’m already able to belly laugh without regret. I’ve learned that feeling delighted with life doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten him or disrespected him. Loving him and being his mother allows me to feel everything more deeply, including joy. Owen died, but he also lived. I will always find joy in that. I will always find joy.
Edited to add: A selfie with one of the cats because cute.