In a lot of ways now I am someone I never thought I'd be. Insert cliche: Life isn't always what you expect it to be. And as a result life changes you. It makes you different. It makes you better. It makes you worse. It makes you a lot of things. I'm focusing tonight on one small aspect of the changes that have been my life.
I'm not entirely sure how it happened, but in the week following Ryan's death I stumbled into the vast online community of babyloss. I guess the rest is history. But to say that would be skipping a few vital moments.
I saw Facebook pages and Instagram feeds of these mothers who lost their babies and I didn't have to look hard to know their stories. Their words, images, the things they shared... it all spoke to the intense loss. Pages full of their dead children. That's how I saw it at the time. It was morbid. I sobbed. I think it was to my sister that I said: "I don't want to be like them. I don't want my whole life to be about his death."
And now look at me. Except, with 9 months perspective, I see it differently. Those pages weren't about death and loss. They were simply about love. A mother's love for her child. My sharing, photos, quotes... they're not about wallowing in Ryan's death. They're celebrating my love for him. In the same way a new mom shares her son's first steps, or that her baby girl slept through the night.
Maybe I could have kept silent on my social media and grieved in a different, more private way. And maybe I'd still be in the place I am today. But I really think my ability to share my son so openly and with such warm and compassionate reception from old friends and new friends has helped me make major strides in my journey.
Just today, a PAL Support group on Instagram contacted me and asked if they could repost one of my messages, and I very nearly said no. And then quickly changed my mind. Of course they could repost it. If I can help one person, the way so many other mamas have helped me this past 9 months, then yes. Share it!
I never thought I'd be where I am today. In a lot of ways. And I'm still prone to my moments. Those times I curl up and have a cry. But then I remember I'm not alone in this. I'm not as isolated as I sometimes feel. And this online community has given me that. The other mothers who so openly share their love, their joys, their pain.
It's incredible to me how this thing that I was once so afraid of becoming has quickly become my lifeline.