Between Worlds

I’ve had a tab open in my browser for months now. I don’t read it a lot, but I do see it frequently, and when I do  I am reminded: other worlds await. I have felt this past year that I have been between worlds. There were so many parts of my life that were going so well just over a year ago. I was sure I was finally finding my groove as a writer, feeling comfortable as a mother, finding confidence in myself and my relationships.

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And then, both suddenly and slowly, that world ended.

*Wipe your tears

child

It’s not the end of the world.

It’s the end of a world.

The week after I miscarried (last November), I begged off a writing assignment I had previously accepted. I lost the many trains of thought I was trying to follow into interesting and thoughtful essays. I would sit in front of a blank page and realize it was reflecting my mind and heart back at me. There was nothing there. Nothing to share. I have yet to find my groove or find even a thread that I can follow back to where I was and what I was doing.

It’s the end of the world

you’ve known.

Other worlds await you.

Worlds you’ll inhabit.

Worlds you’ll create.

But in the blank space, there are important things I feel like I have learned about motherhood this past year. For example, washing the dishes is actually not part of the job description. I don’t mind letting them sit while I join in the fun and games for a little while. And that has solved two problems: feeling resentful that everyone else gets to have fun while I have to work, and feeling guilty that I am a mom who is always around, but not always present.

handstanders

I have also made an effort to be more forthcoming and assertive in approaching difficult topics with the kids. They should hear things from me and Micah, and know that we are open to talking about anything and everything. We’ve had chats about miscarriage and the various ways babies can be born—surgically or naturally—in the past couple of weeks.  I hope that this lets my kids see me as a person who knows things and feels things.

However, I also look at my kids these days and see how chummy they are, how well they play (and fight) together, and I worry about this baby that is way behind my projected/hoped for schedule. Will he be part of the crew? Or always too little, too young to be included. I look at pictures of the 3 of them, and I can’t imagine another child breaking into that fraternity, and I worry for him, and I think of what might have been.

thehuddle

Mourn now,

my child

Mourn this world

coming to an end.

Grieve the dreams

that will never come to be.

And if my kids’ relationships cause me angst, so do many of my other relationships. I gave myself a pass this year on so many things—including interacting with people. I had no energy for anyone or anything. And so I drifted. I can see and feel the distance in many of my relationships—and in my work, and in my hopes.

I see it and think of it and I wonder how I’m ever going to bridge the gap, to get back to where I was, or even to somewhere better. It feels like too much and I wonder if maybe I’ve just stopped drifting, but I’ll never get up the strength to build anything new, to build any momentum, to become anything new or to go anywhere other than where I am.

I try to remind myself that I have to give it time. I may not still be falling apart or falling away, but it takes time to rebuild, and especially if I am to grow into something stronger and better.

After every apocalypse

you will rise again,

my child.

One world ends,

another begins.

I think of that passage from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, about the house that is being remodeled, about walls being knocked down, new wings and towers and courtyards being built. About becoming a palace. I think of that, and I am comforted, but I also wonder: what if it never gets done? What if the walls get knocked down, but they never get rebuilt? What if the roof is always leaky, the drains are still backed up, and everyone agrees it was better off the way it was before?

After this year of sadness

there’ll be an ascension,

the joy tomorrow

is already inside

the grief today.

I have been waiting and hoping for signs that I am being rebuilt, that my life and my relationships and my family and my work will not suffer permanent, irreparable damage from this past year. I have a seriously hard time imagining myself ever saying, “It all worked out for the best,” even though I can imagine seriously good things rising from the rubble.

But I have also realized that if good things are going to come, if I am going to stop drifting, I will need to pick up the slack. It will take work. And sacrifice. I will need vision and inspiration. And commitment and patience. Lots and lots of patience.

With the new year dawning, I feel more and more determined to find what other worlds are out there, what other places I will find and people I will be, what my relationships will become. I am imagining what it will look like, and gathering my courage to go after it.

elephantrock

Other worlds

await.

Worlds that you’ll make

with your hands.

Dreams of seeds

watered with the now tears. 

I know so many women who have been through similar experiences, whose lives have taken unexpected turns, whose hopes have fallen apart. I see them and I see that life can and does go on, that hearts are healed, that flowers still bloom after even the harshest winters. I am grateful for their lives, for the world they belonged to before they came into mine, a different being. And I hope that, like them, I can move forward. Begin again. Try again. Grow again.

 

*poem by Omid Safi

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5 Comments

  1. I’m very sorry for your loss, and for the change it made in your child-bearing timeline.

    I’m 6 years younger than my brother, with no one in between. We didn’t play a lot as kids (but a lot of that had nothing to do with our age gap) or teens, but we are now so very close and I cherish my friendship with him. Seeing the relationship between my two, who are just weeks shy of being exactly 4 years apart, I couldn’t be more pleased. They play together so well (and fight just as easily) regardless of their age difference. I know it’s not the same as with your kids since you have an “older” group as opposed to a single, but it’s probably not much to worry about! They’ll be such a happy little gang of siblings, with no thought to their ages and abilities.

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    lizzie Reply:

    Thanks Livia. It’s nice to hear from someone who has first-hand experience with this kind of thing. 🙂 I am trying to come to grips with the fact that it may take a long time for things to all become clear and coherent to me, but I also realize that this is not a big deal to anybody but me. And you are right, they don’t know any different and will be happy to be a little posse.

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  2. I worried the same things when we decided to have a fourth. He is four years younger than his next sister, six years younger than his only brother. I have been amazed at their love for him, how when he needs something he has at least 2 people at any given time who will try to help him, and how his innocence and simple joys and just being a little baby have brought such a tenderness to everyone in our home. I have also enjoyed only having one in diapers instead of two and feel like I have a little buddy, especially now that the older three are in school.
    It’s crazy how things can go as we plan–or not. We get stretched, sometimes more than we think necessary. Thank you for your thoughts on this, and for finding ways to write, even if they’re not the threads you originally intended.

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    lizzie Reply:

    I admit that I have looked at your family and wondered how things are shaping up for your kids and their relationships, once I realized that the spacing of our 4th is similar. So thanks for chiming in. I look forward to seeing how it all shakes out in the end.

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  3. This is all so beautiful. I’m so sorry that you’ve experienced hard things like this. I know that if anyone can triumph, it’s you. I keep coming back to your writing and showing people and saying, “This! This perfectly sums up [“X” experience or time].”
    So, thank you for writing.

    [Reply]

    lizzie Reply:

    Oh, thanks Misty. It’s funny how we are able to help each other out. I keep coming back to things you said and being very grateful for you and your life.

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  4. This is a beautiful post! I am so happy I read it. I have had so many of these same thoughts this past year. Our challenges are different, but I understand what it feels like when the world you are expecting and anticipating to create does not happen the way you thought it would. I have realized how important hope is. Sometimes we need to hold onto that hope, faith, and trust that there is a greater purpose. This piece was beautiful.

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    lizzie Reply:

    Thanks Niki! I hope you are well. I feel like my hopes have, in some ways failed me in the moment, but I continue to look forward with hope that eventually I’ll be able to make peace with everything that has happened.

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  5. I’ve had this post open on a tab all week. I love the poem, I love your thoughts, and I totally resonate with all of it. I’ve been “surviving” for so long that sometimes I don’t even remember what it feels like to really live in the moment. I feel like I’m in a haze, not necessarily from the people around me, but from myself and the person I used to be. I need to be present, and stop living for the future. It just takes time, and work – like you said! Anyway, I love your words!

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    lizzie Reply:

    I totally relate, Catlin. I keep trying to imagine what life will be like “when…” It’s so hard to stop imagining the possibilities and stop saying, “Unless this happens…” I am for sure feeling the work of it, and just realized another aspect of this situation that I haven’t yet accepted that keeps me from being where I am. Sigh. Thanks for being on this journey with me. I hope you find peace and clarity.

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