Monday, March 29, 2010

Choosing bitterness or not

This weekend has given me some food for thought (ok, if I'm honest plenty of food for consumption as well - that appetite has kicked in!). Actually both an incident that happened this weekend and one that happened last week. What am I on about?

Incident 1: The hospital
Last week I (very bravely) went to visit a friend in hospital after her baby girl had been born. It was... easier and harder than I thought. The things you expect to be sore aren't so bad, but as always, it's the things you don't expect: the smell of the hospital, the sight of little ones fighting for their lives in the NICU. Anyway we were there past visiting hours and a nurse came in with definite gestapo tendencies informing us that visiting hours are now over and we are expected to leave promptly. We did (with a subtle Heil Hitler thrown in when she wasnt looking) and I guess when we left the room our friends mentioned to her that they'd specifically invited us at a time when there wouldnt be other visitors because of what we'd been through.

We were nearly out the maternity ward when she caught up to us. Her entire countenance had changed. She came to tell me that she too had lost a baby - stillborn at 32 weeks. We chatted for a bit, commiserated, empathised and parted as friends. You see the thing is that when you share that kind of common ground with someone all else fades a way. She was no longer gestapo nurse and I was no longer rule breaking visitor. We were both in The Club. The Club that no one ever wants to be a part of, but when you are you are dam grateful that you're not alone. Anyway, I am sure that when I am back in July she will be my fiercest supporter.

Incident 2: Earth Hour
So Saturday night saw the culmination of many months of hard work. There was basically a core team of 5 of us working to ensure that Earth Hour happened in SA. My role was all the media relations stuff and considering that our media monitoring service has picked up 200 media hits just in the last 2 days you can imagine it's been pretty busy.

Anyway, typically, I digress!
So Saturday night I was at the Earth Hour media function in CT. My boss's wife was there as well. Chat chat chat, polite stuff etc. Until.... "Oh yes, you're the one whose baby was born at 38 weeks.... Dead."


What the hell do you say to that? "Yep, that's me! I'm that one!"??? Felt like I'd been kicked in the throat.
However, she went on to say that her first husband was killed when she was 5 months pregnant with her first child. When the child was born there were complications and 10 days later her first child died.

I felt sick. I can not even begin to imagine having your life snatched from you like that - in 4 months you lose your husband and your child. Horrific.

The thing is though that I've always wondered about this lady. There is a hardness about her. A bitterness. Her mouth turns down. I know that's an arb thing to say, but it is true both physcially and metaphorically. I guess when she told me her story - coldly, detachedly (<== is that a word?), bluntly, I think she started to make a lot more sense to me.

She is remarried now - for more than 15 years and she has two daughters, but you can see the bitterness on her face, hear it in her words and in the way she speaks them and feel it in her manner.
I don't want that to be me. I don't want to carry bitterness like a shield. Am I wounded? absolutely! Is that loss a part of me? Always. But not only LOSS, also the joy of the time we did have with Sophia and the anticipation of the eternity we'll spend with her. Also the gratitude for the life I have - my husband, my family, my friends, my health and of course The Kernel on her way.

Today I wrote to a friend that I was proud of her. It's something that has always annoyed me when people have said it of me and this situation. What's there to be proud of? the fact that I'm surviving? That I get dressed and brush my teeth everyday? That's not an achievement, it's barely even a choice. But I realised that actually there is something to be proud of, or at least glad about: I am proud of her because despite losing the love of her life she still loves life. Despite suffering the most unfair loss, she is not bitter. And I guess I think and I hope that (for the most part, at least) I can say the same of myself.


Anonymous said...

A very thought provoking post as always Caz. You are right of course. The loss of our daughters will define us but how is up to us. Grow better or bitter?

cassey said...

Interesting post, I'm sure that you won't go the route of bitterness.

Tamara said...

Very true, Caz. We can't always choose what happens to us, but we can choose to try not to remain bitter. And that is tghe courageous choice, I think.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Caz, very kind words for me! :-)

I fully believe it is a choice as to whether you are bitter or not. The reason I think this is because it's so much more of a fight to keep on the positive side of things for as much of the time as you can. It's so much easier to slip into a bad space and stay there, rather than forcing yourself out...

I would imagine that bitterness from losing a child would be far more dangerous - you wouldn't want future children to grow up thinking that their mom doesn't love them as much as the child she lost.

The Blue Sparrow said...

I agree with your other commentors, we can choose to harden our hearts to the world or we can embrace life and the joys it brings, I heard a saying the other day about this, it said that how can we possibly ever have full joy in life if we've never known the sorrows it can bring? The sorrows are what teaches us to be so gratfull when the joy comes. *HGS*

angel said...

Personally, I think its easier to be bitter and cold and detached, than it is to "process" what you've been through and come out stronger on the other side.
It is an achievement, and one that- sadly- not every woman on this planet is capable of.

Caz said...

Thanks guys... wanted to clarify something.. I am not meaning to judge boss's wife. I have no idea how I'd react given such circumstances - none of us do and I hope none of us will ever have to, I'm just saying I hope I can handle my sadness differently.

Also @The Blue Sparrow:
you are right perhaps, but still, I'd give anything to not have known the sorrows. Maybe I'm a better person, maybe more compassionate, maybe a lot of things but I'd still rather have my daughter than any of that.