It’s hard to appreciate how much energy it takes to just grieve the loss of a person and how difficult soldiering on is. Grieving is exhausting. Part of the process for me is trying to be supportive for my three daughters as well. Some nights it feels like I am a single parent of newborn triplets, except it’s a cry that will not be quieted by a bottle or diaper change. Much like most of us, my three girls push through the day using their energy to appear “normal”. Showing “negative” emotions is uncomfortable for other people. So they walk around with their brave faces on and that takes energy. By dinnertime the disguise is becoming weary and the grief starts demanding to be paid attention to, a hungry baby that must be fed. The girls do the best they can to function pushing through to the end of the day. Then they attempt to sleep. They are exhausted, but the brain is ready to focus on what has been ignored all day. Anxieties pop up, tears. If they are able to sleep they are haunted by bad dreams and fitful sleep. They wake up throughout the night with physical aches and pains, the manifestation of the hurt inside. I hear footsteps, my oldest daughter’s, at midnight and later. She’s trying to be brave, trying not to “bother” me. Sometimes she gives in too. My heart clenches every time I hear my door open and a tiny weary voice asks ” Mommy, can I sleep with you?” . My response depends entirely on my mood. I’m angry and exhausted too many nights. So tired from keeping up the brave face, so tired from feeding the triplets the night before. At times it’s easier to give in and a relief to have them near. Sometimes I am comforted by their warm bodies next to me, the sweet smell of adolescent skin. Each of them settles so easily once they are near me. And I am comforted that they are not suffering for a bit, not tormented by sleep itself.
Each of them becomes a boxing gymnast in their sleep though. Long legs pushing into me, the occasional slap from a lifeless, flopping hand, knobby knees pressing into the small of my back. Teeth grinding. It’s not as though I am good at sleeping myself.
Sometimes I send them away, so they can learn to cope, learn to quiet the beast that keeps them awake. I lie in my bed and hear them crying. Sobbing, drowning in the overwhelming pain of loss. Occasionally the grief lets go and sleep overtakes them. Sometimes the sobbing gets louder and wakes everyone in the house. Three crying triplets, no one even knowing what will make the crying stop and it’s so late at night. So tired and we are all out of bottles. Those are the worst nights.
I have never known a tired like this. I recall how tired I was when I was pregnant with my third child. I had a four and a two year old at the time. With pregnancy came this tiredness that at times wouldn’t release me until I slept. It would come over me like a heavy wave. But this is different, a demanding tiredness, but more like walking pneumonia. I feel like I’m dragging through, like a zombie pretending to be a human. I cannot make simple decisions, or remember simple things and I can’t maintain relationships.
I have good days. I have days when everyone has slept and I’ve had a good cry, or beat the hell out of a pillow or had the energy to exercise. But I can hardly string enough of them together to be a good friend. It’s not that I don’t want to have healthy friendships and relationships, it’s just feels unfathomable and extraordinarily difficult.
This is my way of explaining why I don’t call as often as I should and why I’ve forgotten that its your birthday. It’s not that I’ve forgotten you, my brain is just busy with the business of healing and processing grief. Ill be back. And I look forward to catching up.