and i’ll rise up

it’s my birthday tomorrow. well, it WAS tomorrow when i started this but here we are now at 12:31am so i guess we can start playing the song now. let me preface, before i get into any of the meat here: this post is not a plea for “happy birthdays” or “have a great day” sentiments. nobody probably reads this garbage, and that’s ok – i’ve needed to get this stuff off my chest, and it’s been much too long. it’s actually quite fitting that i’m sitting down in front of the computer tonight, for the first time in over a year, to pour it all out on the eve of having spent, no, survived, another year on this earth. well, that and WordPress said my url would be sold to the highest bidder if i didn’t make a move. assholes. what can i say, i’m a sucker for peer pressure.

i’ve survived another year on this earth. another word for survival? suffered. survival is the same as suffering? that’s horrible, and yet pretty spot-on if i say so myself. if you had asked me 5 years ago where i’d be 5 years from “now” the last thing i’d tell you is trying to find myself and the meaning of life after losing seven pregnancies and bearing the sudden death of my sister, my sweet Angie. how is it that i get to take in this air every day and she doesn’t? what is that bullshit about. spoiler alert: i have ZERO answers for any of this. a year later and i’m still as blindsided as the day i started bleeding too much. or the afternoon where i saw my sweet baby with no heartbeat. or the night i got the phone call. and this last time, the morning i was wheeled into the OR for the last time, to sterilize myself so i never had to feel this pain again.  these are moments in time, snapshots in my life, that are forever seared into my being. moments that defined me, and shaped my future.

so what have i learned this last year? what profound advice can i give? i wish i had an answer for you. i would love to tell you “and i woke up to find it was all just a bad nightmare”. these last 365 days i’ve worked hard to survive, to come out alive. i learned my usual suspects are as dependable as can be expected: wine (nice, but fleeting, and those calories tho), ignorance (i’ll let you know how that goes when i snap out of it), and throwing myself into work (when i have a moment from my multiple jobs i’ll fill you in on that as well). but most importantly, i learned time doesn’t heal all wounds. it just makes the details more fuzzy so the images you recall are less repulsive. “time heals all wounds”. i hate how passive that sounds… like, if you wait long enough everything will be fine. fuck that, i waited years and shit only got worse. you want things to get better? take life by the horns and make it what you want. i learned that this year, REALLY learned that. to do so i had to come to some hard-AF decisions. for the last few years, when we lost baby after baby, amazing husband and i wrestled with our visions for our family. and after Angie died, it all became clear (although not right away, that would be too easy): no more what ifs, the shoulda woulda couldas faded away. what remained was the here and now, and nothing else mattered – i learned you had to cherish what you could hold. so i found myself having to let go of my most cherished dream – i had to let go of my heart. the one full of a dream of a beautiful messy house bursting with love, with children’s voices echoing down the halls, hand me downs, and the look in my son’s eyes as he looks at his brothers longingly. my life now had no matching christmas outfits. no rainbow after the torrential downpour. no perfect response when someone asked me “is he your only one?”

i had to let go of all the things i wanted for us… for me. that’s maybe the hardest thing i’ve ever had to do, in my life. harder than saying goodbye to my babies. harder than letting go of angie’s hand. i had to walk away from hope.

letting go of hope brought me to rock bottom.

and in many ways i’m still there. i still have all my maternity clothes packed away in the garage. right next to amazing son’s baby basinet. and the stroller. pack and play. his baby clothes. i still have a onesie i had bought for his brother, a darling little jumper with tags on it that tears at my heart when i come across it. two packages of diapers that “i was going to use for the next one”. i have some of Angie’s clothes hanging in my closet, they are too painful to put on. one still smells like her perfume, i can’t bear to wash it.  these concrete reminders of the intangible hopes for my life that doesn’t exist. one day perhaps i’ll be ready to part with them. will that mean i’ve gotten to the recovery stage? i don’t think so, i think time will simply trick me into forgetting the sharp pain.

that’s another word for survival: recovered. what the what? nope. not there yet. not. even. close. but if there’s anything that’s happened in these last couple hundred mornings, it’s been a survival instinct to make something happen – just DO SOMETHING. make it count, somehow, to someone. maybe that someone is you. or me.

i hope i’m on the road to recovery. i know i’m on some kind of road, my feet are actually moving (and not just because i’m running again although that helps a helluva lot) and though the hope is gone, what has settled in its place (although i can’t put a name on it) lacks the palpable heavy weight of the stress and anxiety i’ve felt these last years. this is my life now, this is what i’ve been given today. today, i’ve been given another day to breathe. given another year ahead of me. and this is the moment to grab it by the horns.  angie would want me to do that.


“i’ll rise up. i’ll rise like the day. i’ll rise up, unafraid.

i’ll rise up, high like the waves. i’ll rise up, in spite of the ache.

i’ll rise up. and i’ll do it a thousand times again.”

-andra day