Wednesday, May 10, 2017

no one ever told me that grief felt so like fear

The need for light and fun and laughter is apparent to me. Today I would like Jim Gaffigan to come to my house and make me laugh. I would. Oh, that's right, his wife had emergency brain surgery last week. Even comedians are getting their butts handed to them right now. 

If you're sick of life and down in the dumps, go read the post meant for laughing that was posted here Sunday. And then don't continue with today's post. I am serious about this.  If you are sad, stop here. 

Sad Dog.

Okay. You didn't stop. I don't know why.  Are you not sad?  Know this, I am only implementing the noise abatement procedure for your own good.  Last warning.  There are happy things on the Internet if you need a lift.  

The rest of this post is not one of the happy things. 

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“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. 
I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.” 
― C.S. LewisA Grief Observed

I don't suppose it is necessarily any worse than any other time, maybe it is just the I'm-older-age-now-fatigue making it seem worse. 

It is true that your mid 40s are nothing like your mid 30s, I'm here as a witness to that fact. Stay 35 if you can.

Right now I am sick and tired of sadness and broken spirits and broken bodies. I question if my SSRI is working because I just feel sad and tired --  or sometimes tired and sad. 

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One Mom we know has HIV and fights against taking her medicines daily because she feels so sick after taking them.  We push her and beg her and sometimes force her to take them. The HIV program she is in is supposedly the best in the country, but they seem unwilling or unable to do a good job. (Never assume conspiracy when incompetence explains everything.)  They see her once a month and hand her several packets of pills haphazardly wrapped up in paper, poorly labeled without proper instruction, education or explanation, and they send her away.  We work to communicate with them and serve the client with excellence and coordination. They are clearly not into that sort of thing. 

Because they wouldn't give it to us in advance, on the day her baby is born, a Midwife drives to get the very important medicine the baby needs. They act like giving the newborn baby medicine on a Saturday is some sort of impossible feat. They make it difficult and unpleasant. They exist to help the country with HIV. They are "the best" but showing up there and watching them work breaks you of any fancy ideas about what being "the best" means here.

This Mom has not been loved and valued. Her life is full of loss, neglect, and abuse. She is struggling to take care of things and make good decisions for her son, and we ask ourselves - 'WELL, why wouldn't she struggle?' The whole situation is painful and beyond easy answers. Next week we'll visit an orphanage with her to see if placement for adoption is something she wants to consider.  We work hard to keep Moms and babies together.  Until sometimes in horrible situations, we don't. 

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Another Mom is back in our prenatal program a second time.  Her 2014 birth was with us. We don't typically take the same woman twice; because the more women that have a chance at the education piece of the program, the better. 

However, a woman who lost newborn twins in 2007 and then in 2016 lost her 10 year old son and a 12 year old niece to kidnapping  -  WELL - she gets to be in the prenatal program twice or two million times. 

Her church raised ransom money to get the kidnapped kids back. They had over 5K raised. They showed up at the arranged meeting point to pay the fee, but the kidnappers did not come. It is believed her son and her niece were stolen and trafficked, to this day they have never been found - dead or alive.  They have been gone since February 2016.

Now seventeen weeks pregnant, she comes each Thursday for Prenatal program. Her eyes are hollow, like a person might look while walking around dead.

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We went for a staff retreat day.  We planned team building exercises.  The first activity was to share some important dates in life on a time line. We hoped to get to know each other even better. We anticipated birthdays, graduations and anniversaries.  Perhaps, some of the joyful things.  However, every single staff member instead shared trauma and loss on the time line. The day as a teenager that their parent died. Their unfaithful husband. Their divorce. Their abuse. Their abandonment.  Their rape. The team building exercise turned into a chance to lay bare the wounds and losses each nurse and midwife on staff has experienced. 

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Thieves came over the cement walls and into our house in the night Sunday.  Smart guys, they took down the motion lights first, used the rain noise as cover and once in the window they found and used our keys to open the back door for a quick exit later. They came within inches of our precious sleeping teenage daughter. They went under our bed to get the safe where we keep passports and important documents as we slept. They looked in drawers and bags and found what they wanted to take. This happens to most middle class people that live here very long. We're not necessarily being singled out, we just got lucky it took so many years before it happened to us.  We slept. We slept. We slept.  And that saved us from God knows what.  Thank you, Lord.

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Sarah, the 13 year old that was raped and had her baby girl (Sophia) with us in January is a great Mom - like, A REALLY great Mom. It's stunningly beautiful how well she is doing.  However, her own mother is always making things harder. A month ago she came to lie to to us about being kicked out of their house. The story was long and meant to put us in the position of offering them money or maybe a place to live with us. Once we realized it  wasn't true - and that their home was not being taken away, she (the mom of the teenager) just stopped interacting with us. 

This month she is picking at Sarah and being critical and feeding the baby things that the baby should not eat. She is arguing with her daughter that the baby needs more than breast milk.  (Have you seen how fat that baby is?!?!? She needs nothing else.) Sarah sneaks things she doesn't want her Mom to give to Sophie out of the house and into my hands for safekeeping. 

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When I am tired like this, I think, "What exactly is the point?  Nothing gets better. This is shit. It will probably always be shit."  

C.S. Lewis says things about grief that sound so right to me.  He says, "grief gives life a permanently provisional feeling."  

He says,  “Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not 'So there's no God after all,' but 'So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer.” 

I guess grief takes the path it takes and the time it wants and maybe it will be a really long time before a deeper lasting hope is born again.  Maybe not though.  Maybe very soon I will wake up done with feeling dread -- and ready to believe things can be good - or at least they can be better.  

We will see, I suppose.