Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Grief of Remembering

Last Thursday Anna was fine in the morning, but in the afternoon she was inconsolable. At naptime she cried and cried for no discernible reason. She didn't need anything, and I wasn't trying to make her do anything (like sleep) that she would resist--in fact, she was clinging onto me for dear life, in contrast to her anxious behavior yesterday (more on that in another post).

She just seemed . . . sad. Grieving.

I do believe infants grieve, and our precious child has experienced much loss in her short life. Perhaps it catches up to her unexpectedly, at seemingly peaceful times, as grief does to all of us.

What's a mother to do?

I did all I could do, all any of us can do for each other. I held her tight as she buried her face in my neck and squeezed fistfulls of my shirt and lifted her face and howled to the heavens and pressed against me again as if to climb inside. I told her over and over that I loved her and that I was with her. That it was okay to be sad, that I'm sad too that she's sad and that she can't know her mother in Ethiopia. That I wished we could have met her but I know, I just know like a mom knows, she misses you too. That I'm sorry she had to leave everything she knew but that I would do my best as her mama, that I would always be here, always be her mommy, always love her.

Isshy, isshy, Yegetanesh. Isshy. Okay.

In time her sobbing stopped, her breathing calmed, her body grew heavy and relaxed into deep sleep. She slept in peace and woke in peace, and our broken hearts carried us on through the day, but they remember what was lost. I promise to remember.

5 comments:

Amy said...

I have heard those howls twice in my life from Roman, and I am crying now reading your post and remembering them. You did exactly as a mama can do.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post- you are truly a gifted writer!

~Hippie~ said...

Never forget.
Once you can no longer remember what you once knew, everything else becomes hollow.
Grief is part of remembering, and one of the most powerful aspects of it.
Continue to grieve, and I wish you all the best of luck.
Stay strong.

Josh

Chuck and Jenny said...

Wendy, I'm nearly a hysterical mess just reading this. I am absolutely convinced that this is the sleep issue that baby J is having (waking up screaming like he's being tortured and being inconsolable). I just have a feeling that this is his last big step to being fully bonded to us, and the really frustrating part is NO ONE (family wise) believes me! It's just nice to feel validated in reading what sweet baby Anna goes through. Hmm, I might have to work on a post about this.

I know it broke your heart to see her so heartbroken. You're right, we remember. We promise to always remember.

Amy said...

To validate chuck & jenny's (and your!) post, most definitely do infants grieve. Even if not the conscious "I miss what I had," just imagine - entire world turned upside down, those who comforted you are gone, and the more secure or attached they become, the more they will have episodes of crying to the point of inconsolable. Roman had his fits (with spine-shattering howls, like I said, only twice - but many afternoons/nights of sobbing) but now is a well-attached 4 year old.