Friday, March 21, 2014

She Is Not a Secret


Yesterday, day 11 of my Muchness Challenge, was the first day of spring and the International Day of Happiness. An orange sunrise lit my cold walk to school with the boys. I was still feeling my own personal day of happiness from Wednesday, and I was halfway to school (one block) before I realized that at 28 degrees, I should have worn a coat. Happiness and the first day of spring can only do so much.

By the end of the day yesterday, I was exhausted and happiness was being replaced by anxiety about being away from home without my family tonight and tomorrow. Before I left home this afternoon, I enjoyed many muchness moments--chatting over an overdue cup of coffee with a friend, eating lunch with Brandon and the boys (they won toys from the claw again), finding a pink dress that Asher said was beautiful to which Elliott said that Asher thinks everything is beautiful, and adding two small circles to my angel necklace for Alaska's brothers.

After I left my family, I practiced how I would answer the first question my super cool carpool ladies would ask me: "How are you doing?"

Hugs and comfort were offered, and they allowed me to share more about Alaska. Any opportunity to share my daughter and not deny her existence is a muchness moment. Alaska is part of me. I am proud of her. Just like her brothers.

I am not good at talking, so face to face sharing is stressful. But the weight of Alaska as a secret is excruciating. Excruciating probably sounds exaggerated. It's not.

Most people at this meeting do not know about Alaska. As everyone started leaving tonight, I ended up part of a circle with several proud grandmothers who shared pictures and videos of their baby granddaughters--a couple who were probably born around the same time as Alaska. They were the sweetest pictures, but as the second and then the third grandmother shared, my ability to breathe and smile left my body. I hate this physical, uncontrollable grief reaction that makes it difficult for me to properly celebrate those beautiful little lives right now. I would never want someone to not share those pictures with me even though it is difficult. The part that made this the most painful was that I had my secret. I wanted to say, "I had a daughter a couple of months ago, too. She died, and we miss her every second. Her name is Alaska, and we are proud of her."

I didn't say any of that, though. I held it in until the third baby was shared, and then I just had to leave. Rudely probably, and I am so so sorry for that. I am not one to make verbal announcements of any kind, so trying to speak this truth--the initial announcement--is a struggle. How many circles like this did I stand in before Alaska died, and how many mothers of angels held this pain alone?

As I stood surrounded by these grandmothers and their admirers, I thought of my own mom who told the world about Alaska before we knew that she was a girl (and before she really had permission to tell the world). :) And I feel terrible that she doesn't get to share these kinds of pictures of her 14th grandchild giggling at the camera. We cannot have Alaska's smiles, but our angel girl is in our smiles.