A good friend reminded me there's no rule book when it comes to grief. There's no set way of grieving you must follow or a timeline for when it needs to be finished. Another friend said sometimes it feels worse as time goes by because your loved one is more quickly forgotten by people who weren't as close to her while the wound is still deep and fresh for you. I'm blessed to have such friends.
I'm slowly working my way through A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis. I've read and reread this passage that gives his thoughts on "getting over it":
“Getting over it so soon? But the words are ambiguous. To say the patient is getting over it after an operation for appendicitis is one thing; after he’s had his leg off is quite another. After that operation either the wounded stump heals or the man dies. If it heals, the fierce, continuous pain will stop. Presently he’ll get back his strength and be able to stump about on his wooden leg. He has ‘got over it.’ But he will probably have recurrent pains in the stump all his life, and perhaps pretty bad ones; and he will always be a one-legged man. There will be hardly any moment when he forgets it. Bathing, dressing, sitting down and getting up again, even lying in bed, will all be different. His whole way of life will be changed. All sorts of pleasures and activities that he once took for granted will have to be simply written off. Duties too. At present I am learning to get about on crutches. Perhaps I shall presently be given a wooden leg. But I shall never be a biped again.”
There was a night about a month ago when I looked in the mirror and had to look away. I looked so normal. I looked exactly like I did before I gave birth to Maren and then buried her less than a week later. It seemed like a betrayal -- like I should have some sort of visible scar or at the very least a Scarlet Letter-type badge that tells the world I bore a baby girl and she was beautiful and cherished. Instead I'm grocery shopping and helping at Vacation Bible School and spending time with friends and generally going about life in a way that probably looks like I'm "getting over it." But like C.S. Lewis says, I may be getting about, but I'll never be the same again.
And really? I'm okay with that. Because erasing the pain means erasing my baby girl, and it's not a trade-off I'd ever want to make. I heard "The Dance" by Garth Brooks on the radio a few weeks ago and thought, "Man, I haven't heard this song in years, and it takes on a whole new meaning after Maren." Holding you, I held everything. Yes, the tears are coming less frequently. Yes, it still hurts. But no, I have no regrets. I could have missed the pain, but I'd have had to miss the dance. I wouldn't trade my time with my sweet girl for anything.