I can't believe it's been a week since my last post and that I haven't found the time in my day to sit down and write what's been going on with me. So many little things. First, I have been nominated by three fellow bloggers for the Beautiful Blogger Award which I will get to as soon as possible. I promise I will try to do it tomorrow, I just had so much on my mind tonight that I wanted to spill about that it will have to wait another day, another post.
I am a little upset right now because my camera battery is not holding a charge and there are things I have wanted to share with you all on my blog. I am going to try to get a few pictures taken in the coming days so that I can share the beautiful gifts I have received from Karen and Barb. During the twenty five days of Christmas giveaway, I won the stolen moments wrap from Karen at Busy Hands. It's simply gorgeous and I've been wanting to take a picture of it to share and I will as soon as it's possible. As well, I won a handstamped page from Barb at Burble, a beautiful piece of silver jewelery that she lovingly stamped with Calvin's name, birth and death dates. It took one month from the day she mailed it for it to arrive here in Canada. I knew it was coming but never having received anything from the UK before, didn't know how long it would take in the mail. I must say I was getting anxious about it's arrival because I knew Barb had mailed it out weeks ago and it only arrived the other day. Nevertheless, it's gorgeous and I want to share it too. Thank you so much Barb and Karen for your beautiful gifts. I promise I will try to post pictures as soon as possible given my camera situation.
Today I ran into an old friend from years ago at City Hall while I was out paying my utility bill. Cory and I were friends as teenagers and for awhile, he lived on my couch when things weren't going so well for him at home. It's been probably at least eight or nine years since the last time I saw him and we made small talk while we were standing in line. The usual "Are you married and do you have any kids?" talk came up and I laughed as I told him I was on my second marriage and asked him the same questions. The last time I saw him, he had a girlfriend and I'm sure she was pregnant so it was to my surprise when he answered No, not married, no kids. I waited for him to pay his bill and we carried on our conversation on the steps outside. I told him about Lorelei and Georgia and then I took a deep breath and told him about Calvin and what had happened to him. Immediately Cory got a soft look in his eyes and said how sorry he was and then taking my hand, he told me he lost his firstborn and only child, a daughter. I could see the pain in his eyes as he related how his girlfriend went into labour and how as they were in the delivery room with her parents and his parents waiting outside, they lost the baby's heartbeat. He looked at me and said," One minute I was going to be a dad and the next minute my baby was dead and there was nothing they could do about it. Her cord was wrapped around her neck twice." My heart broke for him as he told me about the death of his daughter and how it ruined his relationship with his girlfriend. He told me that it hurt him so much that he didn't know if he ever wanted to have children again and that he had gone from relationship to relationship, not really feeling much of anything because he had all this hurt inside he was trying to keep down. He told me that he had hardened himself, that nothing in his life had hurt so much and that there were a million tears inside trying to get out. I could see a sense of relief in his eyes, knowing that there was someone out there who "got it". I couldn't believe one of my childhood friends had gone through losing a child too and it was amazing to me how comfortable it was to talk with him about it. He knew what I had dealt with because he had been there too. He knew the toll the death of your child takes on your relationship because he had been there too. I could tell he hadn't talked very much about his daughter with people but that he felt okay talking to me because of that terrible understanding. I walked away feeling a sadness for him but also a sense of kinship that I can't explain. I know that today's chance meeting will not be the only time we talk about our babies and that now that he knows someone else who has lived to bury their child that I will be there if he ever wants to talk.
Talking to Cory today gave me a new perspective on the male side of grief. I only know the things my husband has done since Calvin has died, the supressing the tears, being angry, drinking and acting out. Hearing Cory talk about how he hardened himself made me realize that for our men, it's possibly one of the only ways they can cope. I know that after Calvin's funeral, Shane stopped crying and that he became uncomfortable with my tears for awhile. I know he became angry at the world, my usually laid back and easy going husband had become filled with a rage I didn't know how to fix. I realize now that the anger was part survival. I know that as a man, Shane wasn't comfortable with the way he was feeling, the overwhelming sadness was something quite alien to him and frankly, although he knew it was acceptable for him to cry over our son, he didn't like to. Crying made him feel vulnerable and soft and in alot of ways, it went against everything he felt a man should be. Shane felt he had to be strong for me and the girls. He stuffed his tears away until the pain made him angry. He was angry at his inability to fix what had happened to our son and to us. Rather than talk about his feelings, he plunged into doing things that distracted him from the emptiness. He became obsessive about World of Warcraft, spending hours upon hours online. When that started to bore him he turned to his X-Box, shopping, golf, drinking, anything that would keep his mind off what had happened to us and in his inability to reconcile his grief, our marriage started to crumble. We are okay now, for this moment, but in talking to other couples who have lost their children also, it's amazing how many of them don't make it in the end. The grief divides them. The way men and women grieve is so different, husband and wives become strangers to each other. I know for a long time after Shane and I started having trouble that I was afraid to talk about Calvin because he said it brought him down all the time. We've talked since and sorted it out but for awhile, I was afraid to show my feelings in front of my own husband, the very person who had shared the pain of losing our only son, the one person who surely knew how I was feeling. In talking to Cory today, I got another glimpse at the male side of grief and how devastating it is for them as husbands and fathers to deal with a pain that feels insurmountable without being accustomed to the depth of emotion the deaths of our children invoked. I wanted to reach out and hug him and hold him but part of me knew that the "male" core of his being would not feel comfortable feeling vulnerable in a public place. I wanted to thank him for opening my eyes to the pain of my husband and the fact that Shane isn't alone in stuffing his feelings away. Instead, I squeezed Cory's hand and told him to add me on Facebook, that we would get together sometime to talk and I said good-bye. I have to wonder if we were meant to run into each other, to share with each other our deepest pain. I know I walked away feeling as if I had a better understanding of my husband and for that I am extremely grateful and feel more at peace with the way he has dealt with things over the last year. It's amazing to me that in ten minutes, my whole perspective changed towards my marriage and our struggles because of talking to another man face to face about what happened to him after he lost his child. It's amazing to me that babies dying seems more common than I ever thought possible, and it makes me sad. It makes me sad for the daddies who can't seem to grieve and be okay with their own emotions because it almost seems like we women have an easier time with it. We can cry, we talk about our pain, we are expected to be emotional whereas our men are not. Thank you Cory, for opening my eyes wider to the pain of the fathers, I pray you find peace.
It Takes a Village
1 day ago