I am often told…
“Oh, you look so good.”
I have an ongoing joke with my therapist and my girlfriends that when people say this I don’t know whether to respond with a thank you or an f you. I know that some people have an idea of what grief should look like; they think they have an idea of what they would do if they lost a child. Shoot, I thought I knew. I have always been the strong one; every time a new surgery or problem came up I was the one telling everyone that it would be ok and that we would get through it. So, I was surprised that when the day came I was the complete opposite. I was not strong. It was not anything like what I “thought” my grief would be. I have come to terms with Bubba’s passing and do truly believe in God’s plan for each of us. What I had a hard time with was how it happened. There had been many nights when I would go to check on my boy and watch his chest rise to make sure that he was breathing, only then to let out the breath that I had been holding while I waited. This night however when I watched his chest and did not see anything happening my world stopped.
At the hospital I had a panic attack and shortly after blacked out. I thought I didn’t remember much about that night. It all felt like such a haze. It didn’t take long for the events from that night to come rushing at me at night in the form of night terrors. Yes, my friends I was diagnosed with PTSD. For months now, while the world has seen me with my make up on and smile fixed to my face, I have been waking up or unable to sleep because of that night.
I thought I didn’t remember much but then a dream would come… I was being held down on a gurney after waking up with oxygen over my face. I heard my sweet husband next to me pleading for me to come back to him… that he needed me. I heard voices talking about whether or not they needed to give me tranquilizers. I heard my Dad begging me to just breathe. In my dreams I could smell the room and hear all of the beeping. It all felt so real. I was living that night over and over again. The dream of finding my sweet boy lying still came as well frequently. Everything that I thought I didn’t remember came back in a flood, in the form of horrible dreams. Holding my baby kissing his head over and over and over again, climbing on the gurney to be with him, and then holding onto the bed as my sweet husband pulled me away when it was time to go.
It has been almost a week since these dreams have stopped visiting me at night. Learning to be again also means learning to deal with things that hurt. I have learned that running from those horrible feelings and memories from that night would only bring them back again each night. I have learned that by talking about it and how I feel has released me. It is ok to be sad, to be angry, or hurt about how it happened. It is ok to not fully understand why it happened the way that it did.
In learning to be again I have learned that no matter what life puts in front of me at the end of the day it is ME that decides how I will handle it. It is ME that will hold onto the anger or release it. It is ME that can decide to be happy again. It is ME that misses my boy with each breath that I take, and that is OK. It is ME that decides to be a good mother for my daughter. It is ME that decides to hold on tight to my husband as he is my anchor. It is ME that decides whether today will be a good one or a bad one. It is ME that controls the muscles to my smile and whether or not I use them. It is ME that decides who I want to be as I am learning to be again.
So, when you see me around and you think to yourself… boy she looks good or she looks better than I would if I were her. I want to remind you of something… That morning I chose to wake up… I chose to get dressed and put on makeup… I chose to give you that smile…. I CHOSE TO BE ME.
It is not easy, none of life challenges are, but at the end of the day I am the master of my ship and I CHOOSE to steer clear of choppy waters in hopes that one day maybe, just maybe when I wake up in the morning I won’t have to make the conscious choice… it will just be me again.