Friday, June 13, 2014

Breaking the Surface

The next few weeks were a blur.  Well, maybe not a blur, because to me, a blur implies time moved quickly.  It was quite the opposite.  Life felt muted, like I was swimming deep underwater wearing a suit of armor.  Time seemed to slow down and drag on forever.  I spent my days at work on autopilot.    People stared and whispered.  News had spread quickly and I found myself being eyed with a mixture of pity and disdain.  If I heard the words "I'm sorry for your loss" or "Everything happens for a reason" one more time, I might have screamed.

The funeral was sad, as they often are.  I was amazed at the number of people who turned out.  So many people attended that they had to set up a separate room in the church with a live tv feed of the service.  I saw many faces I recognized and many more that I didn't.  Despite my protests, Michael's parents insisted I sit with them in the front row reserved for family and those closest to Michael.  I can't remember now what the preacher said or how long the service lasted.  Many eulogies were given and many tears were cried.

I didn't realize just how many people attended until we were in the car, behind the hearse leading the funeral procession.  Looking in the rear view mirror, there were cars as far back as I could see.  Seeing just how many people whose lives had been affected by Michael set me off into a fresh fit of tears.  The overwhelming guilt I felt consumed me.  He had been a good man, but a troubled man.  At the graveside service, mourners gathered in large groups.  I was consoled and comforted by more people than I can count, but I also saw the glares directed my way by countless others.

Rumors had quickly spread following the news and manner of Michael's death.  My Facebook feed had exploded with "RIP Michael" statuses and many pictures of him were posted.  I felt like I couldn't get away from it.  I know there were people who blamed me in some way, and I couldn't fault them, since I blamed myself.  Manda was at the funeral, an absolute vision in black.  She even wore a black veil, which I found inappropriate somehow.  I also felt like I didn't deserve the outpouring of support through hugs and condolences.  I noticed that most people noticed my now hugely pregnant belly, but very few made any acknowledgement.

In the weeks following the funeral, I basically became a recluse.  I showered, went to work, did any absolutely necessary errands, then returned home to grieve in silence.  I stared at walls a lot.  I stopped being excited about my upcoming baby shower.  I stopped thinking of names for my little girl.  I wasn't eating or sleeping nearly enough.  Miraculously, my work didn't suffer.  In fact, I think I was performing my duties better than ever.  The only person I really talked to was my mom.

She had been in a very similar situation.  At the time of my dad's violent death, my parents had been temporarily-but-likely-permanently separated.  She understood my guilt and the blame I placed on myself.  She understood that I felt utterly and completely lost.  She urged me to seek grief counseling and even suggested I pack up my life and move to the coast to live with her.  I hadn't really considered leaving my life here behind, but I had to admit that it really appealed to me now.  Moving halfway across the country, however, would need to be a decision made when my mind was more clear.

Kate, Rob and Holly really, really tried to be there for me.  I'm ashamed to admit that I basically refused to see them and only answered their calls and texts sporadically.  I basically cut contact with Michael's parents.  The pain I saw written all over their faces was too much for me to bear.

But of course, as it always does, life moved on.  I woke up one day and didn't immediately start crying.  I actually ate breakfast and found myself smiling when I stepped outside into the bright sunlight.  I'm pretty sure it was my first smile in weeks.  It felt so absurd to me that I laughed.  As soon as the laugh escaped, though, I clapped my hand over my mouth.  Laughing still felt wrong, but a smile felt great.  Of course, the slight happiness didn't last long, and at the end of the day, I found myself completing my nightly routine.  I sat in silence, moved food around on my plate more than I ate it and re-read the letters Michael had written to me and our baby girl.  One thing was different, though.  This time when Kate texted me asking if she could come by, I said yes.

When Kate knocked, I nearly jumped out of my skin.  My apartment had been so silent for weeks that the knock sounded like a gunshot.  I slowly made my way to the door.  I had entered the waddling stage of pregnancy.  Without a word, Kate wrapped me up in a tight hug.  I winced, my ribs were still sore from my fall down the stairs that seemed to have happened a lifetime ago.

"You look terrible," Kate said quietly.

"It's good to see you, too," I snapped at her.  What did my appearance matter to her?

"Emma, I'm being serious.  You've lost a lot of weight, you're basically all bones with a baby belly.  It's obvious you're not taking care of yourself.  Have you at least been taking your vitamins?  It is so, so important to keep your baby healthy.  I knew I should have forced my way in here!"

I hung my head.

"Yes, I've been taking them.  Yes, the doctor is concerned.  I've been trying these shakes the doctors office recommended but eating is such a chore."

"You are right, it is a chore.  Think of it as daily medication.  You only have 7 weeks until that baby is here-"

I cut her off.

"Seven weeks?  I have longer than that," I huffed.

"No, Emma, you don't.  It's been more than a month now since...Michael.  I love you, but you need to get your shit together." Kate cupped my face with her hands?

I suddenly felt like I'd broken the surface and was no longer trudging underwater.

"Oh, my god.  You're right.  I have so much to do!" I wailed.  I had less than two months until my delivery date, and I had nothing prepared.   Kate led me to my couch where I cried and vented to her. It felt so good getting everything out.  My fears, my guilt, my sorrow.  I laid them all out and when all was said and done, my mind had never felt clearer.


  1. Glad you're back!
    I'm happy things are back to normal, death is a very tough subject to deal with. I hope the baby is healthy and so is Emma. I'm excited for baby preparing time!

  2. So excited for today's post!!

  3. What's the posting schedule again? Love your blog!

    1. Sorry. Just saw that it's Tuesday and Friday.

  4. That was so sad and beautifully written. I'm happy she didn't keep Kate shut out. Grief is the hardest emotion & its okay to need help! Loved the post & can't wait for the next one!

  5. This is why I really didn't want to get this blog, way too inconsistent!

    1. I might be mistaken but I believe the author is pregnant in real life. I hope all is well with her:)

    2. I agree. It's really hard to keep up with a lot of the blogs these days. Can't say I'm not a little disappointed, but life happens. Maybe if I take a break for a couple weeks I can start back from the beginning and there will be new posts. If not, there's always a good book to read. :)

    3. I know! Sometimes I have to start all over if there's too much time between posts; I honestly just can't always remember what happened before. Hope all is well with the author.

  6. Keep checking back and no post :( hope everything is okay

  7. This is really rude. I love this story and the authors writing, I truly hope everything is fine, but its not a big deal to just post a quick "I'm seriously done with this blog".

    There's no regards to our time either, that we all check constantly. I'm irritated.

  8. Takes you 30 seconds to check. You have no idea what the situation is. Maybe she can't get to the computer. There's more to life than this blog, and if you can get so bloody bent out of shape over a fictional story on the Internet, then you need to maybe get a life and get out more.


    1. Or maybe you need to quit defending the author. Clearly you came back just to check as well.