Tuesday, August 23, 2011

More, from Eli

Yesterday was a hard day (none of them are easy days but some are easier and some are hard). Yesterday fit in the hard category.

I actually had a really fantastic time with Eli.

And therein lies the problem. I am so conflicted.

In 2009 I wrote this post about our stroller breaking. It wasn't really about our stroller. I wrote it to express my sadness at things changing, at the boys growing and wanting more independence. I wrote to Isaac, to tell him that it was OK to take change slowly, that we would do it together.

Isaac learned how to ride his bike. In fact, he is really good at riding bikes and has moved on from training wheels. He's on to bigger and better things. I found a way to move on too, to let change into our lives. A year after that post, I remember another walk we took as a family. My children were riding their bikes, Mike was walking next to me with the dog, and I was lamenting yet another change to happen in our family. We were discussing seriously the possibility of having another baby. I distinctly remember thinking, "But things are so good now. Why do we have to change things?" But it was time and I knew it was time so I opened my self to change and just as always happens, it was good--fantastic, fulfilling, and right.

Now Laila is gone and I can't help but think about that walk and that conversation I had with myself. Now our lives are back to the way we were before she came. When she was first born, I found myself in some silly situations where I forgot to bring a diaper bag--I was just so used to walking out the door without anything. There were at least two times when I had no diaper and a seriously poopy baby. Now we are back to leaving the house with no diapers. The kids are all potty trained, they all get themselves dressed. Two of the three go to school and the mornings are all quiet and easy.

And it's not supposed to be that way.

Yesterday found Eli and me at a fun, new park close to Isaac's school. We spent a great time racing each other down the slides, pushing Eli on the swings, going for a walk around the park, and helping Eli climb the rock wall. He was beyond happy. He just kept saying, "I love being with you." My heart was so happy to spend time with him too.

The ache for Laila was there but my happiness for Eli was there too.

And then Eli asked, "Mom, why does Heavenly Father want to take babies away from their mommy's and daddy's and their families?" I tried to explain as best I could that Laila was perfect and that Heavenly Father took her back so that she didn't have to be tested and live on this imperfect and sometimes unhappy world. His next question shows that he doesn't understand that one single bit, "Well, what if I changed this world? What if I gave her all our toys and we played all happy music for her? Then she would be happy and He would let her stay with us."

It's hard to have these discussions with Eli (they happen every day and the questions are always similar) because I know why Laila was taken from us but part of me wants to say, "You're right, Eli. I don't know why Heavenly Father wanted to take her from us. Wasn't our house happy enough? Didn't we love her enough?" But I know that's not true. I know that's not why she is gone. I know that even if Will made that time machine he keeps talking about to go back in time and figure out what happened to her so he could change it and fix it and stop her from dying, something else would happen. Heavenly Father would still take her from us.

So I just pushed Eli on the swings higher, and listened to him sing, "Heavenly Father didn't want Laila to stay with us, so he took her. Why did he take her?"

Then we came home and I got in the shower and cried.

And I'm conflicted. I'm conflicted because I miss Laila and I love my boys. I'm trying to give them all my love and attention when I can. I'm trying to appreciate this time I have with Eli where my attention is completely his. I'm trying to appreciate the ease of our lives as far as going places and doing things.

But this isn't how things are supposed to be right now. This was not part of the plan. I'm not supposed to be at the park at 8:15 AM pushing Eli on the swings. I'm supposed to be rushing home from Isaac's school, pulling a crying baby out of the car seat to feed her and put her down for a nap.

I feel like I'm being untrue to Eli and untrue to Laila. If I appreciate him fully and all the time I have with him, I feel untrue to her and if I mourn her absence then I'm being untrue to him. I know Laila would want me to be happy and to be the best mother possible to Eli and I am trying. I hope one day when he grows up and reads this he will say, "I had no idea mom felt like this. All I knew is that she loved her time with me and we had so much fun together."

I'm not sure why I was doing this but I was trying to find someone who understood what I was feeling and I did a search on the internet, trying to find a blog or something to read that described my feelings. Instead, my search led me to a video on youtube of a baby who died of SIDS. The creator of the video had written things like, "This is unfair. We don't deserve this pain."

I had to stop the video early because I realized that she didn't feel the way I did, she didn't understand what I understand. I felt so much pain for her because I realize her pain is worse than mine. We do deserve this pain because we chose this pain. Life is fair because we are promised everything will be made up to us. We chose to be tested, we chose to accept what God would give us. Right now I wish this wasn't the trial God thought I needed in my life but, it is, and I'm willing to accept it.

In the meantime, I'm trying to trudge through the hard days, hoping for more easy ones, and enjoying the time I get with Eli. I'm telling myself that Laila wants me to spend time with Eli, free from guilt that I'm truly enjoying myself.


Katie said...

Since I was in high school, I have lost several family members (grandparents, aunt and uncle, favorite cousin). Even though none of them is near to the parent/child bond, I still had the same feeling with each one--like I was betraying them if I was happy. Or like people would think that I didn't love the lost person enough if I wasn't going around in sackcloth and ashes. You are right, though--she WOULD want you to be happy. Experiencing joy isn't a betrayal. And no one will ever question that you don't ache for her--they will just rejoice that you are still able to feel that joy over your other children.

I watched my aunt in the years following the death of her only child. She didn't have the comfort of the gospel, and I spent years fearing that we would lose her to her grief. You are so blessed to have that knowledge that Laila will be yours for eternity. I know that doesn't take away the pain of the here and now, though.

Embrace the joy when you can, and don't feel guilty. Just tell yourself that those moments are the direct answer to the prayers of all of your friends and family who love you so much and wish we could take the pain away.

The Duke said...

I remember how surprised I was at a funeral of one of my relatives as I watched their children talking and laughing together at the luncheon. The tears had stopped flowing (for the moment) and they seemed to enjoy each other's company. I wondered how they could smile and laugh so quickly after the death. I still wonder how that works, but it does. It happened with my own family when my mother died. I have watched it over and over since then and am always amazed at the emotional ability of the body and soul to find a place of peace and joy as well as it does.
When I come out on Wednesday, I am bringing with me some letters from friends who have lost babies and I see a definite pattern although the time frames are all different and unique for each family. Your grief is following that pattern as well as your feelings of betrayal or guilt. It's natural and, I would say, expected.
Laila had the most wonderful smile that filled her whole face. Try to keep that in mind as you see Eli's face filled with joy when he plays with you. She smiles from heaven, I'm quite certain, when she sees that little piece of joy that comes in the special moments.
Your post is beautiful and well written. You expressed yourself very well.

Jenny said...

Adrianne I understand this post so much, I was 16 years old when my dad died from his car wreck and a few days after his funeral I had a guy friend come into town and I wanted to go hangout with him and my older brother that was 18 at the time (he was also in the car wreck with my dad) said to me "Jenny our life isn't the same anymore you can't just go out and have fun and act like nothing has happened." I was annoyed by him telling me that because I wanted everything to be the same I didn't want to think about my dad I just wanted to go have fun and act like nothing had happened. It's hard and I wish I could say it got easier, but it didn't, you just get used to your new life. You are doing amazing and your boys will always look up to you and admire all the strength you have. You are a wonderful mother

chelsey said...

I agree with the notion that Laila definitely wants you to be happy. I can only imagine how that internal struggle must be though. I suppose time will heal those feelings of betrayal. She certainly isn't feeling betrayed. And Eli will remember all these wonderful times you're having together. They will shape his future and he'll always know he has you to rely on. You're doing just what you ought to be doing, even if it doesn't feel like it. Hang in there. I love you.

Cali said...

Oh, Adrianne. I can only imagine the inner struggle you go through as you enjoy life at times, even as you grieve. I hope my comments sound sincere, and not insensitive--I'm not as good words as I would like to be.

You are incredible, and Eli is so lucky to have the time with you that he does. I think it is a struggle of every mother to make sure that her children feel of her love individually (at least it is for me), and Eli (as well as your other boys) knows you love him without a doubt. Being the intuitive mother that you are, I would imagine that you would find mornings to stop at the park and play, even if Laila were still here on Earth, because you love Eli, too. And, I'm sure that Laila embraces your happiness and joys in it.

I hope that as you continue to heal that the feelings of guilt will subside. I'm sure that the pain will never really leave, but I believe that we can experience immense joy despite the pains that our trials on Earth bring. Your testimony is reassuring, and I'm so grateful for how often you share it. Like Katie said, there are so many of us praying for you because we love you so much. I'm grateful that you are experiencing so many joyful moments, and I hope that they continue to come.

Katie said...

I have no doubt that one day a mother who has experienced a wrenching loss will be doing a similar internet search to the one you did and will find your blog with all of its honesty, pain, and perhaps most importantly: hope.

I love you, Adrianne.

Frances said...

Thankyou for that Adrianne. It was beautiful and heart wrenching. I think about you often and you're still in my prayers. You are an amazing, amazing woman and mother.

Bre said...

You are a wonderful mom to all your kids.

GrumpyJaxMomOf3 said...

I don't even know how hard it must be for you to go through all of this, but I wanted to share with you a blog of a friend. She has 4 handsome boys. She has an older son 4 I think and then triplets.... 6 months old. One of her triplets stopped breathing after she laid him in bed for the night... read more of her story here


She does know have the knowledge we have either, but she is so honest with her feelings that it might help you to know other people feel the same things you feel.

Praying for your family always!

Marcy said...

That was so beautiful and honest. I'm so glad you're writing about all your feelings--even the ones that might seem contradictory to each other.