The grief came out of nowhere and hit like a wave.
Mr. B and I were at church, sitting in the same pew we sat in when I went into labor with Penelope. We were chatting and looking through the bulletin, when I noticed a woman sit down across the aisle from us. Her baby was wrapped snugly against her chest, and Mr. B both and I glanced over and commented about what a cute baby she had. And I sighed. Because that’s the mom I wanted to be.
But that’s all it was: a simple appreciation of the very obvious love between that mother and her baby. I turned back to the front of the church for the service. Admittedly, I couldn’t help but glance across the aisle throughout service — fondly thinking about sweet Penelope and how she might conduct herself in church. I’m certain she’d squirm and wiggle and draw lots of attention to herself — because she was so good at that, our Miss Wiggle Butt.
And then, that baby started crying. Her mom leaned over to kiss her head, stood up and walked to the back of the church, where I imagine she swayed to the music to calm her baby.
As soon as the mom and baby returned to their seat, that’s when it hit. Grief. With a capital “G.” And I started crying. From the corner of my leaking eye, I saw Mr. B glance over at me. He took my hand in his, and with his other hand he reached up to wipe my tears away.
I inhaled and exhaled, slowly calming myself down — with Mr. B’s help — and listened to the children’s choir singing and the pastor’s preaching.
Grief is an interesting thing. It is not a static feeling — something that comes, like pain from a cut, and then goes. Rather, it is an ever-changing process, with stages and levels, good days and bad. Like that wave, it ebbs and flows. And sometimes it’s out in the open, showing itself in the tears on my cheeks. Other times it’s tucked beneath the surface, allowing me to go about my day-to-day life. Don’t get me wrong — it’s always there, just as Penelope is always in my heart. It’s just not always on the surface.
And, while grief may not be “convenient,” it is important. It is part of life and not something to just “get over.” In actuality, grief can be a beautiful thing because, if you think about it, grief is love. You see, there was love — SO much love — that lead to this grief. I had Penelope — the most amazing gift I’ve ever been given — and I loved her with every ounce of my being, just as Mr. B did. Sadly, we didn’t have her for long — barely a blink, really. But we learned more about love in those 38 days than we have in all the rest of the days of our lives. We’ve also learned more about losing and about grief.
It’s because of this, though, that I can appreciate grief for what it is — a continuation of the love that Penelope brought into our lives. A love that will never leave us — a love that I will always appreciate seeing between a mom and a baby, even if it brings a few thoughtful tears with it.
“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.” ~Leo Tolstoy