I'm proud to say that I smile every day. And on most days, I find something to laugh about. I can get so swept up in my day that my focus stays mostly on task and I find enjoyment in the things I'm doing and the people I'm surrounded by.
But I never forget. I can be in the middle of a class discussion about critical reading, and out of nowhere. Ryan. Just pushes his way to the front of my consciousness. Usually just long enough for me to give him a little mental hug and then continue on with my lesson. But it's never ending. I can always count on it happening, no matter how wrapped up in other things I seem to be.
And I like it that way.
Let me talk about grief for a moment. I read a lot of interesting things yesterday, from a lot of different perspectives. Everyone wanted to chime in on mental health and healthy ways to live our lives since it was Let's Talk Day. I'm left with a few things to clear up on my end.
Just because I think of my baby every day, does not mean I'm letting myself live in sadness.
Just because I willingly make time every day to sit here, and think about things that are sometimes really hard to think about, does not mean that I am "dwelling" on my loss.
I am simply finding a way to live my truth.
This is my complicated truth:
My son died. I will spend the rest of my life wondering about him. Missing him. Wanting him. Regretting any moment I might not have cherished our time. Just because I smile does not mean I'm not feeling sad. And just because I'm feeling his loss, does not mean I can't also feel happy. In my life now, happiness is a choice I have to make. Sometimes I easily slip into happiness and feel its warmth. I cherish those moments. But it's not something that I can walk around feeling all the time. That's not my reality. And that's okay. My reality is always this grief. It is not a choice. It is now an extension of me. It is a part of me that I must embrace when the time is right, and manage all the other times. And I do. I'm getting pretty good at it. They say "practice makes perfect" and I've been practicing every day for 140 days so far. And you know what? I'll keep practicing tomorrow. And the day after that.
I'm not dwelling in my loss. I'm living it.
Some days the smile comes naturally. And some days I have to choose to wear it. And you know what, some days I choose to not wear it. For now, my smile doesn't always feel right on my face. I often feel awkward in photos or even in front of the mirror trying purposefully to put on a smile.
But, with time, that smile will come. And maybe someday it will look and feel like the one on that confident and joyful mama-to-be I knew 5 months ago.