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new look, same me

hey there. i’m still here, twiddling these two thumbs. sitting in the corner, eating my crackers, watching the reproductive world pass me by. same shit, different day. seriously, nothing is happening. nothing. last we chatted i had some tough talks and decisions ahead of me, and i wish i could say i had some updates about that. i don’t. still undecided, and not sure when i’ll have an answer.

today i dusted off the keyboard, spit-shined the computer screen and sat down to my blog wanting to catch you guys up on all the nothingness. you know, drone on about the lack of progress in any direction, bemoan the 198271287451 more pregnancy announcements (5 just this week), the declined baby shower invitations, and inappropriate comments made by strangers about my reproductive plans since last we talked. you know, all the fun things. i looked at the screen, started scrolling through my old posts… and i hated what i saw.

my blog was drab. depressing. bleak. and it was the truth. it was my life the last couple years, the rawest form of it, exposed in pixels and characters. and it was ugly. i spent some time going back into the past, revisiting some of the highest highs and quickly falling into the lowest of lows. i felt all the feels. and i cringed. because what i saw all over again was the hurt. the degree of bone-cutting hurt. it was almost as fresh as when it was live, my eyes tearing up here and there. going back was almost re-living it again. i could feel my demeanor change as i read post after post, and all i kept thinking was “how did i survive this?”

and i had this moment… this fleeting thought. this tiny voice spoke out: i don’t want to be that anymore. i don’t want to live and breathe that pain again. i want nothing to do with it. i want to reinvent but not deceive, or lie. i just want to shed some of this scarred skin.

if you’ve read anything of mine since the inception of this depressing diatribe against secondary infertility, you know i hold nothing back. the words that spill onto this screen are the truth as i live and breathe it. i still want to speak my truth, and i will. but i need to distance myself from the depressing, and resuscitate some of the me i used to be. the me in that one old photo, creased and worn from repeated folding and unfolding. that one photo… lost in the mess of some shoebox full of memories. the one where my smile lit up my whole face. i want that back. i want to know i can fully be happy again. no matter what comes my way. i don’t feel that right now, let’s be honest, not even close. this has been a rough week as i am reeling from a rash of pregnancy announcements, and i am trying hard to usher out my best friends, envy and self-loathing. their visits are always surprising and nevertheless unforgiving.

the more i think about wanting this change, i guess i’ve been trying to shed the old me for the last couple weeks, actually. i had a birthday recently, and with that, an epiphany that health should not be taken for granted. i know right? so cliché. i have found myself in situations that jeopardized my health a few times now, and on my birthday i promised me i’d start putting me first. i would start doing something healthy for me, just because. not to lose weight, or gain muscle, or anything. just do something to better my body. so i started running again, slowly, and remembered how good it feels when i’m done. sure, i want to stop as soon as i start like everyone else in the world, but there is so much beauty in the silence of the early morning. just my feet and the pavement, a steady rhythm. alone with my thoughts and breath… it’s therapeutic.

and so i came here as well. another step at resuscitation. a new blog look. don’t laugh, these are baby steps. i went for something more, well… more like the me i want to be. a little more colorful. updated. changed for the better. who am i kidding, i picked this theme because it highlighted what i imagine to be the most-delicious cup of coffee on earth (which i had to quit, don’t get me started) and beautiful script. truth. i want all the caffeine.

ok seriously though… here it is. the moving-forward-me. hope you like it. i can’t guarantee i won’t let some ugly out on here. because, well, it’s me. let’s not forget that. oh and i also have no idea what is in store for our reproductive plans, if any. so it might get real ugly real quick again. any skin i might shed here is great an all, but underneath that new layer is the same unsteady-on-her-feet girl. but i need to do this for me. now. take steps to make me better and hopefully find those steps leading to a strong beating heart in place of a lost, bleeding one. cheers. ❤

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birds fly over the rainbow

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pjs on.

teeth brushed.

we climbed into bed, i wrapped him in my arms. holding tight, relishing in my favorite part of the day. i sang him my nightly rendition of “somewhere over the rainbow”. he joined in humming the last verse, as he always does…

“somewhere over the rainbow

bluebirds fly.

birds fly over the rainbow

why then, oh why, can’t i?”

we folded our hands together. and said our prayers.

i started. “dear god, thank you for today.” he echo’d my words.

“thank you for mom and dad, my family, and friends.” the echoes continued.

“thank you for my home, and all my toys.” he giggled. and stressed his appreciation for his new star wars rally monkey stormtrooper.

as we wrapped up i encouraged him to speak from the heart… “and now this is the part where you talk to God and you can tell him whatever you want, good or bad, he will listen.”

i waited.

he thought for a moment and suddenly there were tears in his eyes.

“dear god…” his little hands folded so neatly, rising and falling with every breath from his chest. “when is my baby brother and sister coming? i really want them to come soon.”

knife meet heart.

tears streamed down my face now. i wiped them quickly so as not to let him know he effectively elicited the rawest of all nerves. i held him even closer and opened my mouth to reassure him and center him… and yet nothing came.

what do i say?“sweet baby, i’ve been asking god for this same thing for years”? there is no greater truth.

“God will answer us” do i say that? do i even believe that anymore?

i felt my heart rip from my ribs. and his sweet innocent face looked up at me, asking me with those eyes if i could magically make a child appear and fill his heart. if only he knew how badly i want the same thing. i cannot burden him with this pain. i dare not whisper a thing, do not let on at all. instead i stroked his hair away from his forehead, wiped the tear from his eye.

and lied to him.

“i know sweetie. i don’t know when they will come. only God knows.”

but i did know. we had those hard talks. we left it all on the table, cried all our tears, explored all the options. the truth is there is a possibility for a brother or sister. but it’s pretty much impossible. it’s completely out of our reach and purely for financial reasons. and with that, i had to lie to him. to protect him. and indirectly, me. the truth is we aren’t “done” trying, and yet to continue trying would bankrupt us. that a couple should be limited in realizing their dream for a family because of their bank account is a tragedy. i joke that i should quit my job, get on food stamps, do drugs etc and i will suddenly find myself pregnant. because it sure as sh*t seems that those people are the ones having all the babies. not the stable loving family who is barren and yearns for nothing more than completing their family. nope. i am anger. and sadness. all at once. and in his eyes i am responsible. and he is right.

so that’s it, our hearts cannot say “enough”. and yet we very well may be forced to give up the dream for good in the very near future. this is a torment i wish on no one. i can work my hands to the bone and achieve whatever my mind sets itself to, and yet with this, i will never reach the finish line without a miracle. it’s beyond devastating and infuriating, simultaneously. i don’t know what else to write. my heart has broken a little more tonight, when i was sure it was already shattered beyond repair. to see your child experiencing a sliver of this pain, it’s unbearable. he has no idea this struggle, this level of despair, and he shouldn’t. but he looks at me like i’m the one holding all the cards. like i can change things at a whim.

“i want them more than you know, my sweet boy.” and that’s no lie.

and i kissed his forehead, breathed him in, and held him even tighter. please stop crying.

i folded my hands. and prayed a silent prayer. “dear God, please make this pain stop. it comes on like wildfire, and i’m never ready for it when it arrives. tonight… right now, it’s too much. and it’s not fair to pass this pain to him. unleash it all on me. but not him.”

i see the rainbow. it’s a million miles away from here. completely unreachable.

how i long to be a bird and fly away from this.

i am undone tonight.

mr. personality

i haven’t been totally honest with you. not on purpose, more like awkward accident. so many times this summer i have sat down in front of this screen, placed my fingers on the keys, and begged the words to flow freely. they sit there at attention, barely resting on the cool plastic, and the blank screen mocks me. nothing comes. i used to sit down and immediately pour the contents of my heart into the keyboard, hurt and anger and envy and sadness rushing into the keys like a tidal wave. and here i sit tonight, last week, a month ago even… in a perpetual drought. nothing flows right now. so i pull my fingers away, close the screen, and tell myself i’ll try again later. it’s not that i am done walking this journey, or done sharing it with you. that couldn’t be further from the truth. this is an unending journey. it’s actually because things are happening in the background but i have struggled to find a way to share it with you because, well, it sucks.

i’ve not been totally honest with you. i’ve been seeing someone. a new reproductive endocrinologist. we’ll call him mr. personality. and not because he is personable, or charming or friendly, even.  quite the opposite, so far. the first time i sat in his office he spent 40 minutes listening to our agonizing story of loss after loss with the blankest of all stares. i don’t even think he blinked. occasionally he would twirl his pen in his hand, unknowingly scribbling on the desk beneath his hand. and then he’d stare at it, but his mind was elsewhere. when he did actually make eye contact with me or amazing husband we were met with empty, tired eyes, who were looking at our faces but clearly not seeing us. and then he spoke. a flat, fatigued droning on and on, full of scary words like “dangerous” and “poor responder”. and even more depressing phrases like “i am shocked you are even getting pregnant.” and he executed the most hurtful of all without batting an eye… but i needed to hear it:

“your chances of having another ectopic are at least 50%.”

let me let that sink in for a bit. hell, i’m still letting it sink in for me, and it’s been months since those words hit me, right to the core. we will come back to it, i promise. let’s get back to mr. personality.

you may be wondering why do i continue to see this man? well, it’s a funny story. thank god. i could use some funny shit these days. at the end of our initial visit, blank stares, droning on, scribbling blah blah blah… i actually felt so irritated with him that he didn’t have the decency to *pretend* to be interested in helping us or hell, showing any expression on that face other than fatigue. so i called him out.  what is going on with you, you look beat. and for the first time his eyes brightened a smidgen and he proceeded to tell us he was battling the stomach flu all day, hadn’t eaten a damn thing without barfing, and so on. and we all laughed at him. amazing husband and i looked at each other with relief on our faces that this guy may actually be a human being, not the robot he portrayed for the last hour. followed immediately by showering ourselves in the hand sanitizer sitting on his desk. you shook my hand you jerk. i paid you $350 so you can tell me stop trying to have kids and then you give me the stomach flu?? ass. 

“your chances of having another ectopic are 50%.”

i needed to hear it. i have told my therapist i have no line in the sand, the point where i say enough is enough. and i had yet to be told there is a need to have a stopping point. magician always encouraged us to try naturally since we had “proven fertility” (as evidenced by amazing son). i had no line in the sand, and now i have to draw it. think about it. i have just as much a chance of ending up bleeding out in an ER lobby as having a baby make it to my uterus. i cannot take those odds anymore. as irrational my desire to have another baby, thankfully i have a stronger will to live. i cannot allow myself to end up in a place where my son grows up without a mother. where my husband becomes a single dad in an instant. all because my heart yearns for a baby. my bones ache for my lost children. i am not complete without them, and this desire to fill the void is all-consuming.

but limits are now imposed, and strangely i am okay with that. because the control was taken away from me. i didn’t get to make that decision, but i have to respect it. i have to choose the life i have right now rather than the one i’ve been dreaming of for years. i’m a clinician and i have seen firsthand how dangerous this can get. and i want no part of that again. mr. personality’s words were exactly what i needed to hear and the game is forever changed. the monthly rollercoaster of ovulation predictor sticks, scheduled intimacy, and the devastation of negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test is gone. not doing that anymore. three years of these ups and downs, elation and devastation. done. an enormous weight has been lifted off my shoulders in accepting what i have been fearing for quite some time now: the only way we will have another child is through fertility treatments.

and so it began, our new relationship. me and mr. personality. i was starting from scratch again, getting fresh eyes on everything. after all, it’s been 2 years since starting IVF treatments. things change, i’m older, my eggs are older, and we needed to reevaluate if we had new challenges to face. as the weight of incessantly “trying naturally” was lifted, an equally heavy one wrapped its arms around my shoulders. my lab work revealed that my eggs are aging faster than ever before, and i’m making even less follicles than previously. awesome. thanks universe.  i had to undergo another painful uterine diagnostic test, a hysteroscopy, to evaluate the lining of my uterus to determine if it could allow for implantation of an embryo. (read: does my uterus work). this procedure was a new level of hell. they really should knock you out for this. instead, they loaded me up with valium and aleve and mr. personality used a camera to check out my uterine landscape, if you will. i *might* have cursed at him while i squeezed the blood out of the nurses’ hand in what some may call the vulcan death grip. “try to relax” he said. you’re right, this feels amazing, i can totally relax. ass. and yet by some stroke of luck this was the only test that gave me good results: the landscape is lush and healthy.

infertility: 9,283,261,045

me: 2

and with that, my friends, we have a lot to think about. my eggs are serious crap, my plumbing is broken and somehow the landscape is perfect. lots of hard conversations coming up. difficult, painful questions to ask and an incredible amount of soul-searching on the horizon. and hopefully amazing husband and i can come to an agreement and move forward. i’m not sure what forward looks like yet, hence the sporadic blogging i’ve done these past few months. but i’m relieved my fingers are typing today because it means i’m processing this stuff. and though i’m tiptoeing into the unknown, where it’s dark and scary, i am learning there is light in the darkness. all i can do is try to grasp it before it goes out.

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photo cred: papa turk ❤

hurthearthope

hi there. it’s been a while. sorry. there’s been so many times i wanted to write you and tell you i’m lost but i couldn’t even bring myself to do that. admit it. i’ve thrown myself into work, to distract. avoid. and paradoxically i started seeing a therapist, to focus on the pain and address it. neither avenues felt good. but i’ve been able to screw my head back on after the trauma of my last loss, and here i am. not much has happened since may.  besides the avoiding. and the focusing. and then more avoiding. and lots of boxes of kleenex. but that’s okay. i’m standing again, not tall, but at least i’m not on the floor. what’s also happened is life went on. more of my girlfriends had babies and got pregnant. and the knife dug deeper in my heart. not that it’s anything purposeful on their part, it never is. but it never gets easier to hear, or see. never. that is as real as the air i breathe.

and so i go back to avoiding. and i make apologies. but i have to protect my heart or i will not be me, i will not be standing. it is this very real possibility that forces me to ask my pregnant friends to give me space. because it’s not fair of me to ask them to pretend they aren’t carrying a life inside of them. it’s not fair to ask them to purposely avoid acknowledging a wonderful enormous life event happening to them, to save me pain. and the majority understand this. not all, but most. and that’s okay too. sometimes it’s when life is the hardest we learn who will stick by us no matter what. or we find people who we didn’t know were even there, are the ones to lift us up.

a childhood friend of mine, who happens to be an amazing photographer as well as an amazing individual, was one of those people who “i didn’t know was there”. we’ve been friends since elementary school, and life has woven our friendship in and out. she is someone who i can see after a 3 year absence and pick right up again. she approached me to participate in a project that was calling her heart. she wanted to shine a light on people whose stories resonated, who are on a journey of pain but finding the hope in the dark. i told her i wasn’t the person she wanted. hope? that’s hilarious. after all my pain, it doesn’t exist. she wouldn’t take that as an answer.  i spent a long time contemplating her offer. why does anyone want to hear me sob about this anymore? i told her i have the hurt part of the project covered, no problem. the heart section, easy. but i got nothing for hope. and she persisted, and i reluctantly agreed.

and then somehow in her magical way of pulling my story out of me, while the camera clicked quietly, she found some slivers of hope i didn’t know i still had within me. i wanted to share her project with you all. not so that you pity me. i don’t want your pity. i want you to know that even when you’re drowning, and the darkness is overwhelming know that the light is there. you just can’t see it yet, but it will not falter. it will remain, and all it takes is someone showing it to you.

my friends, i give you the HURT, the HEART, the HOPE. for more #hurthearthope stories visit

The Hurt. The Heart. The Hope. // Jodee

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i will be brave

i took 2 weeks off from my life, to pretend i was someone else. that what had happened was just a nightmare. i got to see sights. throw myself into work. and share just enough cocktails with friends i maybe felt one brick unloaded from the million on my back. and now it’s tonight. half past midnight. everyone in the house is asleep. except me. i can’t, my brain won’t shut off. it just spins and spins. what ifs and shoulda woulda couldas cloud my thoughts. as if any of that would change where i am today.

i am a fool.

i honestly thought that one day it would be my turn. statistics, you know. eventually the numbers play to your favor. after so many pregnancy losses, it would be my time. because, numbers, man. i started to believe this as truth after my 3rd loss. okay, well it will be next time.

and then the 4th loss. okay, that’s the last one, right? and then my 5th. this has to be it.

but just as i didn’t understand math then, i clearly don’t grasp it now. i am 1 for 7 in successes. 85% of my pregnancies end in miscarriages. eighty-five percent. here’s another way to see it (if you’re a sports fan): that’s a batting average of 0.143.

okay coach, i’ll be over here, riding the bench. forever.

remember when i, and you, and the rest of the sciency über nerds guiding my reproductive world believed wholeheartedly that i had my miracle baby with lucky #7?  the baby that finally travelled from one ovary to an opposite tube and somehow found my uterus and based on labs looked 100% perfect?

i think you should sit down right now. pathology results came in and they found chorionic villi in the sample of fluid from my bleeding belly.

fuck.

take a breath (i’m telling myself this). chorionic villi is fetal tissue. it is ONLY fetal tissue. fuck.

my baby didn’t stand a chance even after all that hemorrhaging ridiculousness. it was 100% ectopic. and now a team of doctors pore over textbooks quoting me the rare statistic of having an ovarian ectopic (which likely is the case) which you guys is like 1 in a zillion. because, why wouldn’t that happen to me?

thank you universe, for an epic joke. thank you for filling my sails with wind and then tearing them to shreds while trying to sink my ship in the meantime. just when i had just started to let out my breath, it was nearly taken from me.

and can i take just one minute to say what a cruel punishment the follow-up from this is? from any miscarriage? let’s just “forget” about the painful surgical incisions and persistent sore boobs aside (they have seemed to forget that i am no longer pregnant)… the worst thing in the world after losing a baby is having to return to OB for the follow-up appointment. where i have to sit in the waiting room chock-full of pregnants oohing and aahing over their bellies and complaining (YES! complaining!) about their backaches and swollen ankles and how the perfect bedding for their nursery was out of stock and it’s the end of the world. please someone kill me. i also have to have weekly blood draws to ensure my HCG levels return to zero. and i yearn for each result to scream “not pregnant” (which, when do you ever beg to not be pregnant on this journey) and yet the punishment refuses to abate. each visit to the lab, the tech sees what test they are doing and their eyes light up with what i interpret to be hope and happiness… their eyes and smiles might as well be their arms hugging me and lips wishing me well. one guy even congratulated me. thanks asshole. i’m more than 2 weeks post-op and my last level was still 66. really? when does it end.

it’s only natural i am again doing the “why me” dance. WHY. why me. why NOW. why. AFTER ALL THIS. why build me up only to suck the life out of me? i am angry. i am OH so angry. and why shouldn’t i be? every time i see two lines on a pee stick panic and terror ensue. i have forever been robbed of ignorance and bliss since, well, the beginning of time. instead of congratulations and planning nursery themes, i immediately begin bargaining with God. please God, show me mercy this time.  i am irrationally angry.

and i am such a fool.

you may be thinking “don’t think like that”, and want to offer up crap cliché like “if it’s meant to be it will be”or “don’t worry, you are young, you will have another one.” please, go take that somewhere else. anywhere, where no one who has lost a baby can hear you.  let me be angry. and irrational. and hurt. i am entitled to feel angry. i have to feel all of this if i am ever to stand tall again. hell, simply stand again. the only appropriate words to say to me are “i am so sorry.” and even those words might make me tear up, but they will not add to the hurt.

i have been brutally honest throughout this journey, and with that, surprisingly, people who read it  have come up to me and told me how brave i am. they say how strong i am to bare my soul. to be so honest. “i could never do that” they say.  but i don’t feel brave at all. especially when i am sitting in front of a computer screen at 1 am sobbing giant crocodile tears into the keyboard. truth is, i just can’t hold it in anymore and put on a happy face. i hit my limit years ago with lying to faces and pretending everything was perfect.  bravery has nothing to do with it, i simply have no reserve to hide the struggle.

it’s only right to show the truth. to shine a light on the bullshit that is infertility and my own bullshit journey. i will talk about it because NO ONE talks about it. so that those of you who are so lucky to have easy conceptions and easy pregnancies can gain an understanding that it isn’t so easy for others, and to foster compassion and sensitivity for their fellow women. their friends around them who suffer in silence. those who aren’t “so brave” as me (more like “so crazy”). and i also share so my people, those men and women who have lost, who are currently losing, who may never HAVE at all… know that they are not alone when they feel all of it is shit. all the wild curves and straight edges of this walk. it is all injustice and pain. but for most of my people there is a light at the end of this seemingly unending tunnel. i have seen the strong majority of my loss mama friends go on to have their rainbows. so keep your head up. your numbers are better than mine. they have to be.

you are so brave, they say.

please. i am a hot mess. and one day i will stop being angry, i think. and nothing makes sense to me anymore. well, except this. this made perfect sense.

they are forever with me, always.

❤ fly high my angels ❤

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it must be the right thing to do

 

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to say this week was hard might be the understatement of the year. hard doesn’t cut it. pretty much unbearable. prisoner of the house for a few days, waiting for the all-clear from doc to do something as simple as drive, let alone rejoin the land of the living. my body is bruised and battered, but healing slowly. stitches out finally, and finally rid of the sharp pains in my shoulders from the air instilled in my guts to clean out the havoc that ensued within. i can finally sleep laying down (yay!) however my ass is numb from sitting upright 24/7. (sidenote: i am forced to rethink buying that bed with the fancy remote-control head of bed incline for my golden years).  oh and i can get out of bed without wincing. it’s the small things, people. 

mentally, though, i remain a prisoner. numb. detached. i replay that night in my head and it feels very much like i’m watching my life on a big screen. it’s not me, I mean it looks like me in that bed but doesn’t register. i am disassociated. i truly believe it’s the only mechanism keeping me afloat right now. just keep swimming. survival.

so what am i to do? it’s been a week. just pretend everything is back to normal i guess. that’s what everyone else is doing so it must be the right thing to do. pretending it never happened. avoiding the giant elephant in the room. because no one wants to talk about it. or admit that it was terrifying and awful. i almost lose my life, we lose our baby, and everyone wants to pretend it never happened. we’re good. i’ll smile. we’ll be fine. people congratulate me on my graduation. they don’t realize the only thing i associate that night with is almost dying. nothing about that night shouts “celebration!”  and yet i force a smile. thank you for reminding me. oh yes, i am so happy. graduation is the last thing on my mind.

i shouldn’t fault them. why would anyone want to aknowledge what happened? and let down that wall, become vulnerable. say it out loud. and yet i do place judgment and resent them. i honestly think if i had simply been bleeding to death with no pregnancy involved this would be different. the elephant would cease to exist. my loved ones would feel more comfortable talking to me. but it isn’t that easy. it never is when it comes to this. god forbid we say it out loud. i want to scream. no rug is big enough to sweep this under.

so i am here now. it’s time to shower. put on makeup. leave the house. it is time to take the first step. my foot is raised and  balance unsteady. thankfully, weeks ago i booked a week-long work conference in New Orleans. and now it will serve to help distract me in the most needed time. i’ve been so distracted in my thoughts lately, at least now i can get lost in the crowd where no one knows me and i don’t have to pretend.

as i sit here in LAX, watching people shuffle here and there, i hear the chatter. see the constant movements. and marvel at how purposeful their movements are. their conversations lively. their smiles genuine, faces eager, awaiting their destination. for the good times awaiting them. the anticipation of memories to be made. and i see me in a window reflection. my smile is disingenuous.my face solemn. my movements aimless and slow. what anticipation i had no longer exists. i am robbed of everything.

escape. distraction. i welcome a change of scenery. c’mon Nola. help a sister out.

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 i crawled into his bed this morning

wincing with each twist, my body not recovered enough for these movements

i didn’t care

i needed to smell his hair, feel the rise of his little chest with each breath

he was still here

the dreams had lied to me

i stroked his cheek, committing the softness to memory

and closed my eyes

and i tried to recall a time much earlier

before all the storms

when life was more simple and safe

and i wasn’t on the verge of collapse

i needed to steady my feet, right myself because the world was upside down

and it hit me

i couldn’t

nothing came to mind

even after i had carried him inside me

and made it to that moment when he was placed in my arms

i was still terrified and tormented from loss

i pulled him closer to me

selfishly waking him up, i didn’t care, i needed him

with sleep in his eyes he turned to look at me

smiled

good morning mama

the dreams had lied

he was still here

i laid there

and looked on his sweet face, breathed his breath and held on tight

as tears streamed down my face

i refuse to let go

the world is cruel

i am paralyzed with fear

i know at some point i have to start moving again

but how can i take a step, in any direction

when the ground is quicksand

i am a million broken pieces held together with tape

and just when i think the tears cannot possibly come anymore

they burst forth

i breathe him in

he is still here

i close my eyes

can i stay here forever