The day that I held Lincoln in my arms, I slowly and painfully, got up and went into the hospital bathroom to clean up a little bit. I had been on IV fluids for roughly 32 hours and, between labor and the trauma of losing my son, I had not slept soundly in over 55 hours. I looked in the mirror of that stark white bathroom, and I did not recognize the face staring back at me. I was puffy and swollen. I had deep, purple circles under my eyes. But more than anything, I was suddenly incomplete. My stomach, instead of round and expectant, was flat and empty. I was in a fog. This wasn’t real. It couldn’t be real. Since that first moment that I looked myself in the mirror, those feelings have remained. I am no longer sure of who I am.
I feel so broken. I have battled deep depression and I have faced panic attacks. These things are very new for me. I’ve always been a “Glass Half Full” kind of person: always looking for the positive side of the bad situations. But what could possibly be positive here? It has been difficult to be changed in such a deep way. I’ve been struggling to find myself. I spend every day learning how to function in this new life: learning who I am. My life has improved since I started painting for Lincoln; since I started writing for him. Little by little, I am uncovering new pieces of me; and it has been easier to look for the good around me. But there are still days when it is just too much to bear. The wave of grief rises high and slams down on me. It can be unexpected. Like the wind has been knocked out of me. I never know when these waves will hit, and that makes my life a little unpredictable.
I feel like the world is watching me, waiting to see what will happen to me next. Will I thrive or will I crash and burn? I do believe that I’m thriving, the very best that I can, under these unfortunate circumstances. But some days I am just not okay. Some days I don’t want to find the silver lining. Some days I don’t want to look for the good. This week, on more than one occasion, I have felt like giving up. Giving up my blog, giving up my art, giving up this very public view into my life. But I don’t want to give up on Lincoln. He deserves to be shared. His life still has purpose, and it’s my job to live that out.
A dear friend of mine often says to me, “I won’t tell you to have a good day. Just have a day.” Those words have stayed with me. I don’t have to thrive. I don’t have to feel good. When you face this kind of grief, you are allowed to have a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. You are allowed to have as many of them as you need to. The important part is having a day. It’s getting out of bed, when you’d rather stay there forever. It’s putting one foot in front of the other. It is embracing the waves as they ebb and flow, and keeping your head above the water. Don’t give up, but do allow yourself to just have a day.