Friday, March 13, 2009


Who's to say
What's impossible
Well they forgot
This world keeps spinning
And with each new day
I can feel a change in everything
And as the surface breaks reflections fade
But in some ways they remain the same
And as my mind begins to spread its wings
There's no stopping curiosity
Please don't go away
Please don't go away
Is this how it's supposed to be?
Is this how its supposed to be?
-Jack Johnson, Upside Down

I remember the first shower I took at home the week after Henry's surgery in October 2007. This song played in my head, and I wept and wept knowing that I would play it at his funeral. For months I had trouble listening to it.

It's different now, so many things are. I love this song, and smile inside when it plays. Sometimes it still makes me tear up, but happy tears. This world keeps spinning. Indeed it does.

Intellectually I know that my reactions to Henry's death are normal, but the guilt that I have is intrusive. Which is curious for me, normally not being a guilt-ridden person. When I'm sad and down, I worry that I'm depressing the girls. Why has my middling asked to go play at a friend's house four days this week after school? Am I so melancholy? Is our house full of pain for her? Or is she just seven years old, and likes her friends? And then, on days I'm doing well, I wonder how I can go shoe shopping when he's been gone just 2 weeks. Just two weeks! It seems forever already. Do the girls look at me and think, "Geez, mom got over him pretty quick. Hope nothing ever happens to me!"

This is a hard time, but not in the way I thought it would be. I'm not overwhelmed with sadness, all the time. There are certainly moments. Mostly I just feel lost. I don't know how to feel, and it changes rather abruptly, and I'm not used to it. This world keeps spinning, as does my head.

I'm spent the last 4 months wishing for time to eek by, and wanting to see and smell and touch every minute. Now I wish I could fastforward life two years, to when I'll be feeling better.

Then, the guilt again. Two years I wish away, two years of my own life, two years of the girls. What if that's all I have? I already can see what I've missed of my middling...she grew up so much in the last 18 months, and I didn't see it happen. Do I want to miss more?

Is this how it's supposed to be?


OHN said...

It is simply not possible to follow a predicted path. There is no "supposed to". You will continue to move along, some days good, some days a complete blur. I just hope the good days outweigh the blurry days.

ArkieRN said...

You're not getting over his death too soon. Remember, that so much of your grieving was done while Henry was still with you. You are on a different timetable than you would be if you lost him unexpectedly.

Michelle W. said...

When I lost my daughter, I remember feeling the same. If you smile you catch yourself and wonder what kind of monster you must be. If you are always sad then you wonder if you are neglecting/irritating everyone else around you. Know that all who read your blog support you and that we will not judge you. My prayers are with you and your family.

rlbates said...


Eric, AKA The Pragmatic Caregiver said...

The shoe shopping helps. Really. There's just no sense in wandering around in emotional distress with sore feet shod in clodhoppers that have grown unattractive. ;0)

I have a pair from Mom's cranial met, a pair from the pelvis radiation, a pair from when she got the port out, a pair from the day when they told her to stop walking. Actually, that was a three-pair day for me and two for Mom. If I waited two weeks after bad news to shop for shoes, I'd be barefoot.

When Jon's dad passed a few months ago, the first thing we did after they came to pick him up for the brain donation was get brunch. With adult beverages. And made totally inappropriate jokes about how lovely of a day it was and how much dad would enjoy these Bloody Marys.

I don't feel guilty about my feelings of relief and hope for the future that were so absent during the Long Goodbye. My nature has always been "snarkily optimistic", and the return to that was a welcome part of the healing process.

webhill said...

I think this is not something you just "get over" on a timetable, and I don't think your girls will feel you are doing it "too soon." You will all feel the loss, individually and as a family, forever - but time, I think, will create a distance that allows you to move forward and enjoy the happy memories without being overwhelmed by the tragic loss. My best wishes to you and your family.

Anonymous said...


"I remember the first shower I took at home the week after Henry's surgery in October 2007. This song played in my head, and I wept ..."

Showers are a great place to cry. No one sees the tears and the evidence is all rinsed away.

I cried in the shower the morning of my first daughter's birth and she had to be admitted to the NICU. No need to explain the tears, no need to appear weak to others.

I cried not for the loss but perhaps for the uncertainty ...the.not.knowing..!! what was to come. Perhaps the same uncertainty that moved you to weep oh so long ago. Perhaps the same uncertainty that might engulf you now...

Showers hide a river of tears.


femail doc said...

What's "supposed to be" when your world is turned upside down? Shoes, playdates, world and head spinning, per another song (Jackson Browne; "For a Dancer"):

Don’t let the uncertainty turn you around
(the world keeps turning around and around)
Go on and make a joyful sound...

CarrieWannaBePA said...

Warm hugs to you...

Unfortunately, no one can tell you what is "supposed to" happen. This road is one you must walk with your family and friends in a way that feels right to you. If you feel lost right now, I would imagine that that's OK--even if it's not a comfortable feeling. Before Henry's death things were clear: take care of Henry, find a cure, help him fight, support him, love him, make sure he's comfortable and not in pain... But now, things are not as clear. Even though I have never experienced the loss of a child, I can assure you that all you are feeling is "normal." Sometimes you want to cry, sometimes you want to buy shoes.

Good or bad, the world does keep on spinning, and you must keep on spinning, too.

tiff said...

I remember the first time I laughed after my son died. It was fantastic and awful all at once and the guilt for feeling a little joy was so overwhelming.
Five years on I think there is no right or wrong, the world keeps on spinning and one day you just find you've caught up. It's not the same world anymore (you never get over it) but you can turn just as fast as everyone else. You're equal again.

Jack's Mum said...

That's a beautiful song.

'Is this how it's supposed to be?'

Your words are beautiful. You are being so strong for your family.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr Smak,
I am so sorry for your loss. Loved ones leave, and that really sucks.

I was struck by your comment about being fast forwarded to two years from now. My dad (a young age 51) died two years ago, and I'll tell you that two years out is an interesting place to be.

Although it's certainly not as aweful, in some ways it's harder.
Certain memories of him seem further away, and sometimes
I worry that I might seem irrational if I still get sad. I don't mean just down, but occasional tears, snot, wailing, unsightly kind of sad that just goes along with the territory.

The people who understand and support you two years later through those moments are some of the greatest allies life can provide.

I wish you as good a two years as possible. It's so wonderful that you are documenting as much as you can of Henry; your future self will revel in it.
-Jackie G.