|Amy and me|
One thing you will read about grief (and especially with a loss like mine) is that it's common to feel isolated. No one really knows how you feel, because what happened is so rare, so unheard of, that people just don't know what to say or do. Right after I lost my baby, my friends and family were amazing and were the only thing (besides my toddler and husband) that got me through the first few months. I can still call my closest friends at any time of day and tell them I am sad, and they will invite me over to talk. But it doesn't make up for all of the hours of the day that I feel lonely and isolated. Trying to get to bed at night was impossible for the first few months. I avoided it by watching crappy shows on tv until I couldn't keep my eyes open, then went straight up to bed hoping I'd fall asleep. My husband missed so much work in the midst of a promotion, that he has been swamped with work all summer and doesn't even really have time to let go and grieve properly or he "couldn't get out of bed in the morning and then what would happen to us all?" It's true, without him keeping it together, our family would just fall apart. I wish we could both just take all the time we want to grieve and work things out, but it's not that easy. So while he is busy and all of my other support people go back to their own lives, it's lonely and isolating a lot of the time and just pretty damn awful.
However, I feel slightly less alone because recently I've felt a new connection with my sister Amy. As I've written before, Amy died of lung cancer in 2010, at the age of 33. We were extremely close, and going through all of this loss makes me grieve for her all over again, and in new ways. Of course, when I feel lonely, it's Amy I want to call to cheer me up. She'd know just what to say. And it's Amy who I want to complain about all of my bad luck. She had it too. Getting diagnosed randomly with lung caner when you've never touched a cigarette is pretty much one of the worst things ever. I think back and remember Amy talking about cancer and dying, and now I know how truly lonely she was. She had all of us right there with her, supporting her, listening to her, but I know she felt alone. How does anyone else really understand what it's like to face death?
When people listen to me talk about losing my baby, they have this supportive, sad look in their eyes. I know that look exactly. It's the look I used to give Amy when she talked about cancer. It's the look that means "I feel so badly for you. I want to take all of this away. I'm scared to death that this will happen to me but I am trying to be strong for you." That's it. That's the look. And I used to give it to Amy all of the time. Now I get it from her perspective. I get how crappy it is to have your loved ones feel sorry for you, but knowing that they have a good reason to because something awful has happened...to you! Realizing that I know how she must have felt makes me feel strangely closer to her. I wish I could have understood her more when she was alive, but some things just work themselves out with time.
Another strange connection I've felt with Amy is my recent diagnosis of Von Willebrands disease. Amy always had horribly heavy periods and I recently remembered that she had to have a D&C just for bleeding because she was losing too much blood during her periods. I guess with all of the other cancer treatments, having severe anemia and blood loss is just something you have to take care of, so they gave her the D&C to stop the bleeding, not knowing about VWB. Even though there is no way to know for sure, VWB disease is genetic and I just know Amy must have had it too. I guess it doesn't really matter now, but I feel like there is something weird about her and I having this rare bleeding disorder (out of the 8 siblings in the family), and both having other random illnesses and awful things happen to us (dying of cancer for her, and getting diagnosed with a chronic disease and then losing a baby to stillbirth for me). What the heck, life?! Why did we both have to suffer with these random things? I wish they would have screened her for VWB so that she didn't have to suffer needlessly through a D&C and all of that bleeding. As if she didn't have enough hospital procedures already. Her symptoms were worse then mine, so maybe she had it "worse" or had type 2. I don't know much about it yet, but how odd is it that she and I both had it and didn't even know?
I hate the the last connection I feel with my beloved sister is through suffering, but at least I feel less alone knowing that I finally understand how she must have felt. Maybe it's awful of me to compare my loss to having cancer, but really I'm just comparing the helpless, lonely feeling of suffering through things that no one should ever have to go through, and making a connection between sisters who loved each other and would want to take it all away for each other if they could. I know Amy would understand how I feel right now, and I know that she would feel better knowing that someone finally understood her.
I love you Amy, and I like to imagine that you are taking care of my sweet baby Stone right now. You never had a chance to have a baby, and he never had a chance at life, but now at least you have each other.