Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Happiness and guilt, my cocktail of choice

I was on my way to the grocery store this afternoon and feeling pretty good. The sun was out (after two and a half straight days of rain) the grass is greening up all through the neighbourhood, tulips are blooming, and buds on the trees are fat with the promise of summertime shade.

I felt happy.

And then, almost instantly, I felt guilty because I felt happy.

Sometimes feeling better - feeling close to normal - scares the bejeezus out of me. I wonder how on earth I can feel anything other than despair, sorrow and pain. I buried my son - I lost my tiny, beautiful baby boy who I love more than life itself. It just doesn't seem right to feel anything other than utterly and irreparably heartsick.

But the thing is, I am feeling something else these days. And this new peace and happiness that has somehow eased its way into my broken heart feels so good. I can't resist its charm no matter how hard I try. I've missed it - I've missed me. I forgot I could even feel this way, and it's like a drug. I can't get enough of it and all I want to do is soak it up and revel in its beauty and power.

The problem is that as much as I love it and want to embrace it, it somehow feels wrong. Really, really wrong. I feel like a kid sneaking a cookie before dinner or a bandit making off with a million dollars. I shouldn't be happy. I have a dead son - a dead baby. What have I got to be happy about? How can any part of me feel even one millisecond of peace?

Sometimes I think I should spend the rest of my life weeping and gnashing my teeth. That feels like the right and sensible thing to do when your child dies. There should be no happiness after you've buried your son. Ever.

So why is there? How can this be? And what must people think of me, the happy, smiling, content mother of a dead boy??

Like every stage of this horrific healing process, this is confusing as hell. I feel guilty when I'm happy and miserable when I'm sad.

I suppose I should be happy that at least I'm feeling something, but I just wish it was easier to sort all this out. I wish I had drawers for the pain and closets for the happiness. That way they'd be handy when I needed them and stowed safely when they weren't in use. All neat and organized.

I have a scar across my heart that will never fully heal. I carry pain with me that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. I am walking through life missing a piece of myself that I can never get back. I miss my Thomas so much it literally makes me ache.

And somehow, without even trying, I'm finding happiness again. Real, honest-to-goodness happiness. And I'm blessed if I can figure out how this happened - how any of this happened.

I don't think I'm living life anymore. I think it's living me. I'm clearly just along for the ride.


Denise said...

I think that Thomas wishes you happiness just as you wish him happiness in heaven. I really think that love makes it possible to find happiness again even when you are missing someone terribly.

the ockers said...

I think if you can have good days were you can be happy and 'live' for Thomas, that can be a good thing. Happiness can manifest in the strangest ways and places. Grab it by the horns when you can.

hoping4_zzzsss said...

You know Thomas has reached out and touched so many of us in positive ways, he is reaching out and hoping that what he's given to others, he is giving to you in spades. It's ok to smile and be happy...for every tear you've shed, there should be a smile that comes to you at a later time as a gift from your beloved son. Just as much as you think of him, he is watching you and he remembers your beautiful smile so don't punish yourself by not putting it on as often as you feel you can. *HUGS*

Laura said...

I know what you're saying. I worry that if I seem too cheerful on the phone or running into someone in the grocery store, that people might think that I'm heartless. And I have been feeling guilty for laughing too hard or just enjoying things in general--even if it's for a few minutes. But I'm just trying to roll with this thing and allow myself to feel what I need to be feeling at that moment. You deserve to be happy. You do. Just let yourself feel it.

Catherine said...

Two things...

First...there are LOTS of things to be happy about. There are LOTS of things to be sad about. It's all about balance. You don't give up on your own life because your little boy lost his. Just like all the times you've been knocked down before...you dust yourself off as best you can and figure out a way to move forward. You can't live in the past forever. You will always love Thomas and you will always carry him with you...and you will always feel sadness that he isn't here with you. But that doesn't mean you can't relish the happiness of your Beloved's love...or the tulips blooming...or any other of the beautiful things life has to offer.

Second...other "normal" people really don't think about you all that much. I know it seems impossible to understand that the rest of the world isn't nearly as involved in losing Thomas as you...but they have their own lives and they're worried about getting to soccer practice on time, or what to make for dinner. And if they do think about you, they're probably relieved to see you smile and find some happiness. Nobody wants to see someone they love in pain. So don't be so hard on yourself...other people aren't judging you the way you think.

Sarah said...

I feel guilty about being happy sometimes too... or feel like i'm getting ahead of myself if i start looking forward to a night out with friends... and then i get confused. It's hard.

But a little bit of happiness can't be a bad thing. I keep trying to remember that!

Nikki said...

I think Thomas would want you to be happy and to smile and to enjoy life, yes you lost your son and the pain will never go away but you have many wonderful things in your life a caring family, a loving and wonderful husband and great friends. Enjoy the sun when it shines its Thomas' way of saying its o.k Mommy to smile cause Im smiling down on you. No one feels you shouldnt be happy and doesnt think any less of you when you laugh out loud, smile or enjoy yourself many people miss that about you and soak it up when you show that side of you again. (((HUGS))))

kate said...

Yes, what Catherine said, what everyone else said. Life is a balancing act. Enjoy those moments of happiness, they are gifts from heaven. And they do make bearing the pain possible -- it is part of healing. It does not mean you are forgetting.

Jennifer said...

I am a "normal" person and I can tell you when I see posts from you in which I can feel your happiness it brings a smile to my face. I am so glad that you can still find joy in your life even with all you have been through.

You have an amazing husband and tons of friends and family who love you - I am glad that we can bring happiness to you in this difficult time.

delphi said...

I really get what you are saying. I guess the only thing to do is to ride the waves. Even if it is to say, "I am going to feel pleasure for the next 5 minutes. Then I will go back to hurting."

It freaks me out when I stop hurting, because I am afraid to let it go. I am afraid to forget my son (yes, I know I will never forget him, that doesn't negate the fear). I can't hang on to him, so I hang on to the pain. What else do I have?

You feel what you feel. Over time, the peaks and valleys will level out. So they tell me.

Jules2pies4me said...

Maybe Thomas found a way to deliver a little happiness to you. Consider it HIS gift and know that you're always surrounded by/thought of by ppl that love you even those just a click away :)

deadbabymama said...

What Catherine said! Plus this - you are living life, that is probably what is making you feel happy again. Someone with as many sprouting plants as you have can only be living life.

Margaret said...

(((Kristin))) I agree with the others. Try to enjoy your happy moments. They are gifts from Thomas.

I don't think anyone would think less of you for finding humor in a joke, or beauty in the tulips that appear this time of year, or comfort and peace in the arms of your beloved.

With all you've been thru, I'm very glad that you ARE craving the happy feelings. Allowing yourself to enjoy these moments in life is not denying Thomas. It's living - something I'm sure he would want you to do.