Symbols & Signs.

The morning Jensen was born, my best friend came to the hospital. He brought flowers and just sat and listened. It was fairly early when I texted and told him Jensen was born so silently. I remember just talking and explaining it, I don’t even know if I was crying or if shock had taken my tears. He had to be so brave coming into that room. It’s not the scenario anyone expects to walk in. Usually there’s the baby being passed around and the mom is beaming. Anyways, during our talk he told me, “Jensen will come to you in a red bird and a blue bird.” I remember the thought of a sign from Jensen giving me so much hope.

It would be a happy moment that he was with me even in his death.

When we got home from the hospital, I completely forgot about our conversation on the birds. There were no birds going to come in my room as I let the darkness cover me. I was dragged out of the house to go on a drive two days before his funeral. We drove all around the county and ended up going to eat at a little restaurant that I’ve been to countless times. I sat down in one chair and didn’t like it, so I sat in the chair across the table. It felt better about that chair, weird I know. Then I looked up at the wall, one I’ve looked at before, and I saw my sign. A picture of a red bird and one of a blue bird right beside it; my sign from Jensen.

I remember just staring at it and not listening to a word my mom said. All I could do was point at the pictures and say, ‘he’s okay.’

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The Elements.

Grief is usually described in two ways: a crazy line graph or the waves of an ocean. At first I tended to relate more to the scribbled mess of the graph. It was black and white, had the path going everywhere, and there was always an endpoint. I used to be comforted by that end point, it represented no more pain. As if all of this anger, sadness, deep grief would just stop at the end of the line.  I was naive and have never faced grief before. I would never have thought pain and loss could be described by the beautiful, calming ocean.

It only took me a month to realize pairing the ocean and grief together is pretty spot on.

At first, I was dropped right in the middle of the biggest ocean ever. It was calm while I was still shocked and realizing the depth of where I was. I don’t think anyone can explain those first few weeks of shock, especially in stillbirth. My body still felt wonky and I really believed I could still feel Jensen kicking around. I was completely numb to everything. Then it seemed like the ripples that started when I was first dropped in, came back with the biggest wave I’ve ever saw. It put me down and I couldn’t breathe for a very long time. I was getting tossed and turned. Every time I felt like I was reaching the air, I actually was flipped around. Nothing seemed normal. I wouldn’t cry for an hour, then my email would ding and it was a baby email. Then tears and not breathing and screaming, all at once. From the end of that first month to even now, I am constantly being thrown from wave to wave. There have been days where it’s calm, but there’s always rippled. At times, I can even feel the warmth of the sun.

The comfort of the end point in the line is nonexistent with the waves of ocean and grief. Yeah, I know that the shoreline would be the endpoint, but have you ever just floated in the ocean? If you’re not continuously paddling, you get pushed back. Grief is no different. I have to constantly battle all my emotions at all times. Even when I feel like I have no strength to keep paddling, I have to tread or I’ll be pulled way under. Of course I slip up. Sometimes I feel like I could be touching the ocean floor. The breakdowns, in public or in private, let me feel all that I felt when I was in shock. I flashback to not hearing his heartbeat, the stillness in the room when he was born. That’s what happens when you slip under. Maybe driftwood comes every few days to help give me something to hold on to. A good memory. A happy ultrasound picture. My driftwood is Jensen and his love. Sometimes it can just be the cat laying on me. The calm waters on the driftwood, those warm, happy moments are all I look forward to right now. They help me gain strength for the next wave that I know will be coming. There’s no shoreline in my viewpoint right now, just the oncoming of waves and the relief of the breaks.

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Even though I’ve only been kayaking twice, I’ve found so much peace. Obviously I can relate grief to the waves of the ocean, but I relate the calmness of it with Jensen. That’s what going on the lake is like for me right now. I hear him in the wind and feel him on the gentle ripples of the other boats going past me. He’s dancing there in the cloud. The trees rustle giving me the background noise I have to hear. You can’t see it in that image, but the sun is swaddling me with warmth and it’s love. It’s the same kind of feeling I pray Jensen has every second in heaven. In this picture I am at peace. The rest of the world is silent in that moment, but I can hear him in the elements.

I paddle to shore and my moment of peace ends. Getting, literally, grounded is like getting swallowed by the waves. On this day, I pick daisies and see a blue dragonfly. Blue, like Jensen’s colors, leading me to the flowers I pick. Here I am, picking flowers with Jensen again, trying to tread in the waves. The sun, wind, lake, clouds, and trees all still singing to me. I guess I pick what Jensen wanted me to, the blue dragonfly hovers right in front of my face then flies back to the waves.

We leave all these elements that remind me of Jensen; the waves of grief growing as we drive away.
*Originally posted on Still Mothers on July 18, 2016*