Chapter (noun): A distinctive period in history or in a person’s life
I was reading a book a couple of months ago, The Midnight Library, it’s a place that people go, between life and death. When you visit the library, it has books of all the possible other versions of your life – the parallel and perpendicular existences – every permutation and combination, and when people reach the library, they have the opportunity to choose a different story for themselves.
It got me wondering, if I were to stand in that library, which book would I seek? Which regret? Which new path would I take? For the longest time, it would have been a very easy decision: I would choose the story where my dad lived. But as I pondered this, I realised that somewhere along the way, that decision had changed. For I would not now risk choosing a life without my husband in it. As difficult as that is to think, let alone write, it’s the bruth.
You know the book that I would now choose: it’s the one where Summer lived (I would also be careful to choose an edition without a pandemic!). Any book I choose, would currently have to have both my husband and my daughter in it, my heart would not have it any other way.
It’s strange, but I wouldn’t go back and rewrite the ending of my first pregnancy loss. At one point in my life, I would have done, but right now, I wouldn’t. There are many reasons for this, but a key one is that I believe that I have grown through what I have gone through. My old self would not have appreciated certain things in the way that a post-loss me now does. And if we had had BoC, there would have been no My Baby or Summer, and that’s unfathomable to me now. Yes, we have stumbled upon harder times, but there were such good and happy times with them all too.
What the above shows me is that acceptance comes with time. Choices change, but some decisions – such as my life with my husband – remain the same. I still have faith in this story, in the book we are living. Though we may not have chosen this chapter, I have hope for the ending.
Realising this has brought me so much comfort in the last few months. It’s made me see that although I believe that I have moved into the acceptance stage of grief, if we do go on to have another child, a further deepening to this acceptance (perhaps the “meaning” stage) will come. For I know that I will look at that child and I will have to move on from Summer’s page. If I hold another baby in my arms, I could not bring myself to glimpse backwards and wish for another chapter, without him or her. Instead, I know that any story that comes now, comes from Summer, just like it all came from my dad too. They are gone, yet in this way, they are still with us.
It’s safe to say that I have become more spiritual since Summer died and though I am loathe to say that everything happens for a reason, I am a proponent for taking the challenging things we have been through and learning from them, building on them, when we are ready. I think it’s one of the main things we’re supposed to do in life, but it has taken me a while to get to this thinking. That’s not saying that baby loss is a beneficial thing, rather that it has happened, so now what? My response has always been to keep better preparing for motherhood. Do not get me wrong, I reckon I was plenty ready three years ago, but this has always been my coping mechanism – however exasperating it is proving.
Anytime anyone has ever asked me a “if you could have a dinner party with any group of people, dead or alive” type question, my dad was always number one on the guestlist. He will always be, the number one guest on the list. But I would not choose a different ending for his chapter now, and I cannot tell you how much relief (instead of guilt) there has been in realising that, because it’s shown me how I can move forward, living with baby loss.
I don’t think I could have found this resolution, or this feeling of peace or comfort around Summer, without my dad dying. Again, that may sound strange or cruel to some ears, but it makes perfect sense to me. My dad has shown me that awful things can happen, and though you will always wish that they didn’t, that not all that follows, will be bad. I’m starting to have longer stretches, understanding the same about my recurrent baby loss. That there are blessings to come and joy to be had. Maybe not today, maybe not this year, but one day. Even if that one day, is simply in our reunion.
P.S. The ideas in the book I mentioned and this blog are in some ways, similar to those in the film, About Time. It’s a fantastic film (I bl00dy love Rachel McAdams!), so if you’re more of a TV than book person, definitely check it out. I guess the point to all this is, though I can’t choose happy, I might one day choose elements of all this, baffling as that may sound right now. We have to go through this, of that I’m certain (there’s no other option for us, after all). But I personally also choose to believe that years from now, I will understand why.
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