Tuesday, October 20, 2009

90 years and still crying

Last night I spoke to The Band's 90 year old gran, Ouma.

She lost her second baby when she was about 5 weeks old. I had known this via my father in law, but Ouma has never ever spoken about it to him or anyone. Last night she broke that and spoke about it to me.

She said that she still cries for her baby. 60-something years later she cries for her baby and longs for her. She says the pain never ever goes away. Over the years you cry less, but you long for that child all your life. You see a baby and your heart aches - even if you've had other children.

Her baby died 6 September, her anniversary and Sophia's are days apart. I think our loss has been so so hard on her. Sophia is her first great grandchild.

I think of this woman carrying so much pain for so many years. In those days the solution was "you'll have other kids". I suppose there was little understanding and so she carried it all alone. Bottled it all up inside. She never spoke of it to her husband or her children. What a lonely road.

I so appreciated her just speaking straight with me. Everyone tells me it will get better. Here's a woman who has gone through it herself. She warned me: Caz, it doesn't get much better. That is the blunt truth. Don't get me wrong - there is still so much joy and beauty in this life. I would still, on the whole, describe myself as a happy person. But the pain is here to stay and quite frankly, I wouldn't have it any other way. Weird but true.

Ouma said that the first thing she plans on doing when she gets to heaven is finding her girl and mine and telling them how much they are loved.


Anonymous said...

Ouma breaks my heart. I'm sure that pain will forever be carried in some way. I'm glad you could talk to her and she could talk to you.

Tamara said...

I'm glad you have each other for understanding. That's a beautiful picture of Ouma in heaven talking to the two little girls.

Anonymous said...

I think there is a very real bond between people who have lost babies or children that is very powerful. This applies in the virtual and real worlds. Over this weekend of Abigail's anniversaries we received 9 cards. 4 from family, 5 from people who had lost a baby in the past. I know I for one am so much more tuned into other people's grief now and will always reach out to people when perhaps before I would have retreated into myself and avoided awkward conversations.

Keep talking anyway

Caz said...

Thanks guys

LTR: You're so right... I feel instantly bonded to people who've lost children. All other differencces kind of pale in comparison to that shared experience.

Bruce said...

Very touching......

....and it raises an interesting point. Our lives are basically made up of the emotions that we feel and experience (love saddness, great joy, sorrow, etc...) that tend to get forgotten or surppressed over time by all the other little thing that 'get in the way' (bills, traffic, jobs, meetings, etc...).

I have been reading a book called "My Antonia" by Willa Cather (supposedly an American Classic), and it is so well written due to the fact that she relates many of the emotional experiences in life through her charactors, that we can all relate to.

We often times are so hectic and fast paced, that we forget that these are the very reasons for living....the essence of life.

k@lakly said...

Sometimes the hardest thing about losing a child is the knowing that you will wake everyday and feel the pain of the loss. It's why I believe that you don't lose a life when your baby dies, you lose a lifetime.
Thinking of you and your grandma-in-law.

Gill said...

My gran's first baby was stillborn and she grieved for her her whole life. Like you, she was still a happy, positive person, but that pain was always with her. I think you learn to live with it as opposed to getting over it.

Nicole, Graeme, Janel and Nathan said...

Reading this made me cry. When Zoe died, one of the things that gave me great comfort was a vision a friend had of Jesus carrying her to heaven in his arms and loving her, and the knowledge that her brother and greatgrandparents were all there to love and welcome her.

But Ouma's right. You never get over it. You learn to live around the pain. Some days you may not think of your child at all. Other days you just want to hide away from the world and cry a sea of tears.

But the deep sorrow doesn't necessarily negate the deep joys of life. Somehow we learn to live with both. I guess it's part of the mystery of life.

Caz said...

Thanks guys... so you'll understand my desire to punch people who tell me that every day will get just "a little bit brighter" :)

bir said...

Your story of Ouma is similar to my own. At my son's funeral my 96 year old grandmother came up to me and with tears told me she knew how I felt because her second child died at 12 days old. I don't know if I ever knew that before but I knew it now. Nana and I tear up together these days. Neither of us can go into too much detail. We're affiliated now through the death of our babies. I have no idea how she survived, given that back then things were so different, and she would have been expected to get over it and get on with it.
Nana has it in her will that baby Margaret is to be exhumed and buried with Nana, alongside Grandpa, when Nana's time comes. This is an issue within our family as everybody thinks it's wrong to disturb the 'poor baby', and to leave her at peace where she lays (350km away). Maybe I wouldn't have understood either a couple of years ago, but now I know that I will fight tooth and nail to make sure Nana's wish is granted. The mother - baby bond is never broken. Not even after almost 100 years.


acidicice said...

It's different for everyone. I know someone who lost her baby 9 years ago and has had two sons since and still cries when she talks about it, I know others that feel better about it as time goes by.

Jamie's one year anniversary is coming up really soon (5 November) I wrote her a letter which I will publish on my blog...while writing it, my pain was as real as it was a year ago.