How Do You Support Another While You Yourself Are Crumbling?

Back in April I was going to share some posts for National Poetry Month, but as you can see, I failed. As the world was turned upside down as we dealt with a pandemic, stay-at-home orders should have made it easy for me to find the time to write as much as I was compelled to. What I didn’t take into account was that the issues behind my own poetry were heavy, and sometimes dark. I wasn’t ready to unpack those emotions. I wasn’t ready to let anyone see that part of me. Even as I sit here now I know that I will never be ready. Some things are always going to hurt. Some things are better just left in the past. But I’m still going to share them hoping that by sharing them it will help parts of me heal.

So here it goes…

Picture a man pushing a shopping cart around the back aisles of Costco. Since his son is at preschool he’s taking his time picking up the things that he needs, and the things he doesn’t because you know, it’s Costco! His wife is out of town of town on yet another work trip. Washington, D.C., Alabama, New Mexico, it’s hard to keep track.

As he turns down the detergent aisle he gets a message from said wife asking if he has a minute to talk. Since he is just mindlessly wandering the chasms of Costco, of course he has time. While they talk she tells him that she was late so she took a pregnancy test just to make sure, and to her surprise, it came back positive.

The man is speechless. As tears begin to well up in his eyes he tells her that even though they weren’t trying, he is so happy. They say their goodbyes, and as he stands there in the back aisles of Costco, the emotions wash over him like a river. He can’t hold back the tears of happiness any longer, and as other shoppers pass by him, he openly weeps in front of the bulk paper products.

That man was me. I cried in Costco. But little did I know that in the coming weeks I would cry tears not of happiness, but those of loss and sorrow. After a doctor appointment where the heartbeat was slow and faint, we waited anxiously for another week to find out that instead of planning for a life with two children I would have to watch my wife go through the heartache and pain of a miscarriage.

A part of me died that day. A part that I will never get back. An emptiness that, even with the birth of our second son two years later, will never be filled. Days and weeks went by where I simply went through the motions. When I was alone I couldn’t help but break down. I was lost. I became a shadow of myself. I became distant. And what I didn’t realize at the time was that I had completely abandoned the one person who needed me and my support the most.

***

Distant looks and furtive glances.
Days go by and so do chances
To lift you up and hold you close.
You break down but no one knows.
As you go on completely shattered
I search for something that matters.
You feel so alone even by my side.
No one knows a part of us died.
The light has gone out in your eyes.
No warm hellos, only hollow goodbyes.
You cry out, needing my shoulder
But as I die inside I only grow colder.
And as we lose our little creation
You need your rock, your foundation.
But I can’t be what it is you need
Because I can’t even be there for me.

***

To this day, one of the things that hurts the most is knowing that as my wife went through the mental, physical, and emotional anguish of the miscarriage, even though I was physically there, I wasn’t truly there for her. I didn’t know how to support her as I myself crumbled.

It has taken a long time to forgive myself for drowning in my own grief and not recognizing that of my wife’s. Instead of being there to help keep a light burning, I retreated into the darkness, leaving her alone to find her way.

We never got to meet that combination of us, and to this day we both suffer in our own ways. We are blessed to have the family and life we have built together. We are blessed that even through those dark times we eventually found our way into the light. But still, there is that emptiness inside each of us that can never be filled. There will always be that scar on our heart reminding us of what we lost.

***

Ten little fingers,
Ten little toes.
Your daddy’s smile,
Your mama’s nose.
The heart of a lion,
As cunning as a fox.
Eyes as blue as the sea,
With wavy blonde locks.
Full of compassion,
Full of wonder.
As bright as lightning,
As loud as thunder.
You could have been
All of this and more.
Have traveled the world,
Seen every distant shore.
But we never held you,
Never saw you grow.
And our hearts still break
More than anyone knows.

***

I wish in those hard times I would have been better for my wife, and for myself. But because of those hard times I will continue to strive to…

Be Good, Do Good.

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