Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lonely, But Not Alone

A year has passed since Bronwyn's death; a year, two months and almost 5 days, to be more exact.  I'd tell you how many minutes have also ticked by, but that would be putting too fine a point on it.  I've wanted to come here and write so many times, but honestly, it didn't seem appropriate.  What I've experienced emotionally during this time runs the gammut of all things dark, with light occasionally seeping through fine cracks.  The details of this darkness I didn't want to share publicly because I knew that people would worry for me.  Inside of myself, I understood that I was on a journey and that I would keep on walking, but you might not know that, and so I kept those posts to my old fashioned paper journal.  The one just for me and Bronwyn.

Originally, I started this blog with the hopes of sharing the details of my grief so that I might help others who are also on this journey.  But I've come to realize that grief is a deeply personal and lonely road.  For example, my husband and I are grieving the loss of our same daughter, but the way our loss is manefested is completely different between the two of us.  Of course it is.  Our relationship to her was unique and individual; why, then, shouldn't our grief be?  Whereas I have been quiet, morose, depressed, sullen, half-alive, he has been active, working, busy, depressed, and half-alive.

I remember when Bronwyn was a newborn baby.  At just two weeks old, she developed extreme colic.  She would start crying, on the dot, at five o'clock in the evening and wouldn't stop until ten.  She would scream as if she was being tortured and maimed.  As a new Mother, I was distraught, something had to be wrong, but what?  Nothing soothed her.  Not nursing, not a pacifier, not rocking, singing, bouncing, going outside, massage, special drops, nothing.  How many panicked calls did our Pediatrician recieve from us?  I didn't count, but I'm sure his nurse rolled her eyes more than once.  "It's colic," He would calmly explain.  "It will start to get better when she's 6 weeks old. Essentially, there's nothing you can do."  When her crying would start, I would take a deep breath and my nightly "soothing" ritual would begin.  I would hold her close, sing to her, rock her. 
She would wail. 
Inevetibly, by the end of the night, I was crying right along with her.  We'd look at each other, tears streaming down our faces, both of us hot and sweaty in this new battlefield.  My husband could hardly stand to see me so distressed.  "If nothing does any good, why not just lay her down?" he would ask me. 
But I couldn't. I just couldn't.  I needed to learn her language of anguish.  I needed to show her that I was never going to give up on her, especially not when things were hard.  I thought about my labor (still very fresh in my mind); how painful it was, and how nobody could take away the pain that was part of the process.  But I also remembered how helpful it was to have a soothing hand on my back during a hard contraction.  How much an encouraging word kept me going when I felt like giving up.  This is what I wanted to give to Bronwyn during her time of hardship, and this is what my friends and family give to me now.  Grief is lonely, but that doesn't mean that it's better to be alone.  Just having you here is helpful.  Thank-you for listening.  Thank-You for caring.

14 comments:

  1. I never understood what love was until I had children, and even then, it has taken years to learn how to give that love the right way. Ever since I can remember, you have been such a loving, giving person, Beth. I can't grasp the enormity of your grief, but just know that I am sending love to you and Brian and joining in with a comforting hand!

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  2. Thank-You so much. I really appreciate that.

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  3. Oh Colleen. You are such a wonderful writer, you have a way of putting things that can't be put into words... into words. This so touched my heart, it is so very powerful, touching and honest. Thank you for this, for being who you are, and sharing so openly with us.

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  4. Thanks for always supporting me, Pam.

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  5. I found your other blog - A Handmade Life - in a very round about sort of way, searching Google images for an obscure Korean fabric (notepad pattern) and from there, to here. I just wanted to say I'm sorry for your loss. We lost my 19 year old niece last July to lung cancer. It has been very hard to understand - comprehend is a better word - the death of someone so young. Your words are similar to those my sister expresses when she talks about Annie. Each life and life lost is unique, as is our grief, yet there is a bit of comfort knowing others have walked through it, too. Again, I'm so sorry for your loss. Blessings to you in the new year and blessed memories be with you always!

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    1. Thank-You, Jessica, and I wish you and your family the best in living on after your neice's death. It's a new type of normal; a starting over point, even if grudgingly so...

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  6. A postscript: I just visited your Etsy shop and saw you are in Olympia! I live in Kirkland - what a small world!

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    1. WOW! Maybe we're destined to meet? Anyhow, nice to have you stumble across my work/life. Let me know if you're ever in the area; we can catch coffee together!

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    2. Colleen, I just learned last night of Bronwyns's passing over dinner with Lisa Veneroso. I wept in reading your touching posts. I am just heartbroken to know that Bronwyn is no longer here in her own flesh. She is walking in you now and I am glad that you are able to carry her with you in every step. You have always shown your courage and your grace. I am also glad that you have found your voice and a healing way in which to process your grief and be supported. I lost a brother as a teenager and I still viscerally remember the isolation, the awkward horror on my friend's faces in my company. They had no idea what to do or say. And at that age, I lacked the ability to tell them what I needed. I hope you will continue to be able to express not only your feelings, but your needs of your community. Those around you would like nothing more than to try to fulfill them. I am thinking of you and Brian. I have a book I'd like to send you if I may. If you send me your address I will mail it; feel free to use my email: marnietyler@comcast.net. I can also drop it at Brian's office if you would rather. With love and tears, Marnie

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    3. Thank-You so much, Marni. I'll send you an e-mail.

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  7. Oh Colleen, your words once again move me to tears, and make my heart swell from your beautiful honesty. The light you shine into this world, even when yours often feels so dark, takes my breath away. You are an amazingly beautiful soul. Many hugs and much love. xo

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  8. Bronwyn certainly had the most wonderful mum in you Colleen. I read your post and am just amazed at how when you are going through so much yourself you still found time to send kind and helpful words to me, which meant so much.
    xxx

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    1. Thank-you, Jane. Connecting with others helps me on my road, and reminds me that there's still good in the world...

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