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February 16, 2012

Thank Goodness for Stomach Bugs (Did I Really Just Write That?)

Over the last few weeks, I’ve received a number of messages from friends, family, and other readers telling me how grateful they are that I am sharing my experience with grief so honestly here. Most of what I’ve read about grieving says that talking is the best way to handle it. So thank you for being ready, willing ears, and for encouraging and loving me so dearly. Writing helps; knowing someone’s listening helps more.

 

Before I get started, if you’re confused as to why in the world I’m reflecting on my stomach bug and how on earth I’m connecting it to my grieving process, let’s remind ourselves that you kind of asked for it.

 

*     *     *

 

Grief is a stealthy, seemingly invisible beast that interferes, at one point or another, with almost every aspect of life. It is not something one can predict or apologize for. It happens, and we simply have to learn to live with it. Although that’s not very simple at all.

 

The first two weeks after we learned we lost Ethan were bizarre. It was strange how little I thought I felt. I was sad and angry, but life seemed to be going on at a fairly regular pace. I expected more difficult times were still before us, but I couldn’t figure a way to adequately prepare myself.

 

Still, I tried. I surrounded myself with friends and family as much as possible. I took advantage of every offer for babysitting, and John and I went out and had some great date nights (if you’re in New York, go see Godspell. For serious). I ordered food in or reheated frozen foods for dinner, to avoid expending energy on cooking and cleaning up. I opened the shutters every day to let natural light in and enjoyed the light of Jacob’s laughter.

 

And yet.

 

I haven’t been able to make it through a week of my old life on my own. I’ve either had John take time off work or another friend or family member come in to serve as childcare reinforcements. Last week, I did it all myself, but was a mess by Wednesday night. I am pushing through my editing work, but it is sometimes more a struggle than a relief to have something else to think about.

 

I tried to describe how I was feeling to John, and told him this: I feel like I am operating with sixty percent mental capacity, sixty percent physical energy, and sixty percent patience. If you do the math, that would only get me through Wednesday in a typical week. Apparently my mathematical estimation skills have improved, so that’s a plus.

 

I needed a stomach bug to knock me off my feet—literally. By Monday evening, I was down to zero physical energy and zero everything else.

 

It’s tough to admit I can’t do everything, when it comes to Jacob. A stomach bug has a concrete beginning and end, and there is a tangible reason I can’t be the mother and wife I want to be. It isn’t the same with grief. I don’t know how long it will be until I feel like I can do it all again, and I don’t know how much of a “break” will really help. I’ve been functioning with the mindset that checking out is not the answer, that I will only be more frustrated for what I might miss with the little man, and that this is a time I would do better to keep on swimming, if you will.  Even if it feels like my world has stopped, the little man’s has kept on spinning.

 

My parents and John’s parents have graciously and joyfully helped care for Jacob this week. I know they will help whenever we ask them. But at this point, I don’t know what really is the most helpful. I know I am grateful that this stomach thing (courtesy of Jacob, who had it last week), has forced me to have a quiet day at home, by myself, with a whole lot of TV and my knitting. I convalesce the way an eighty-year-old woman spends most of her days.

 

Okay, I would have knitted even without the whole stomach bug thing. And watched Wheel of Fortune. And Jeopardy. Maybe the “Young” in my blog title is a misnomer . . .

 

Anyway, all this is to say I’m still figuring it out. Once I felt like I was on the upswing from this stomach thing, I began to see it as a blessing, which is something only prayer and God’s grace can do.

 

We’re off to a happy weekend visiting with old friends, which I hope will be like another bowl of chicken soup for my soul.

 

Not the book. I’ve only eaten chicken soup in the last twenty-four hours. So I really mean that.

 

 

  1. I hope you have a fantastic weekend that rejuvenates your soul! =)

  2. You’re doing great, Lindsay. It is interesting how a thing like the flu can help put things in perspective. That’s happened to me a time or two as well. And yes, miscarriage also bumped me into a new realm of understanding what we’re to do during this one earthly life. Thinking of you, praying for all good things!

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