Saturday, April 9, 2011

Imaginary Burden

Usually when I post, it is something that has been on my mind and I want to share.  This post is very unexpected and I did not wake up this morning intending to pour my heart out to the blogosphere.  

But when I read my name mentioned in this post , it kind of opened the floodgates and this post came pouring out.  If you don't know about the story of Camille, the foster daughter I loved and lost, you can read about it here.  

To experience any loss is a horrible thing.  But the thing about the loss of a foster child is that it seems like maybe the whole thing really didn't happen.  There are no funerals.  The child was never yours in any legal way, so if it wasn't legal then what is the big deal?  The whole world goes on and life happens.  The problem is that no one ever tells your heart that it wasn't real.  To most women, the very minute a child is given to them to care for and watch over, well that bond happens instantly.  And it is nothing legal or even logical, it is emotional.  In fact apparently, it a divine gift we are given so we can carry out the mission our Father in Heaven intended for us.   And that is why this loss is hard to explain and acknowledge, and grieve over, I suppose.

And in my case the fact that I moved the day after my loss doesn't help either, because most people in my new life don't know why this horrible event is so horrible.  To them Camille is, well imaginary, because they never knew and loved her the way I did.  It is hard feeling like I am the only one who is sad about this event.  Even my husband does not share my pain because he was gone working for most of the time that we had Camille, and perhaps it is just that men grieve differently then women.  It is not right or wrong, it is just a fact.  

And so I do not suppose that I will ever get over the trauma of having a child I cared for, ripped from my life in an instant.  Most of the time I think I do a pretty good job of pretending that I am OK.  But just every now and then this grief sneaks up on me and over takes me like a Tsunami of pain that I am never quite prepared for.  I have learned how to go on living, but I imagine that just like someone who looses an arm or leg, things are not the same and never will be.

It is strange.  To say the least.  At times I am pretty sure that I am crazy.

As Elder Johnson said in conference, "It should come as no surprise that the trials [we have] can be very personal, almost laser guided to our particular needs or weaknesses and no one is exempt, especially not those striving to do what it right."

Elder Orson F Whitney's counsel was referenced twice in General Conference "No pain that we suffer, no trial we experience is wasted.  It ministers to our education to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and  humility.  All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God...and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we came here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in Heaven."

And so it is not to say that I am not aware that my Father in Heaven loves me.  I do realize this and have a testimony of the Gospel.

Most of the times knowing these things, I suppose does help, but sometimes I wonder if this pain will be the end of me.  In fact  it already has been the end of the happy, carefree me who believed that the world was my pearl and dreams were for the taking. So I not only lost a child, I lost myself.  And I am still trying to find the person I used to be.  Maybe that is just life and growing up, but I still find at times that I wonder where I have gone and who is the shell of a person I find myself watching my life from.

Like I said, it is strange.  And most of the time I try not to think to hard about all of it.

But today the wall I have built around the pain to keep it back, came crashing down.  And maybe that is a good thing every now and then.

So to my good friend Debbie, I say a big thank you for just understanding, acknowledging, and helping me carry my pain. 


Garden of Egan said...

I didn't know anything about that story. Thank you for allowing me to read it.
Wow! I am not sure I would have been able to bear that.

You are amazing and you just made it to the top of my awesome list.

Nutty Hamster Chick said...

Thanks Tauna.

Allison Barnes said...

I am so sorry for your loss! I love you! I miss seeing you at Saturday soccer games!

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Pat,WOW, this is so beautifully expressed and articulated. Didn't it seem like conference kept coming back to this topic of grief and pain over and over? I really loved it and it has been on my mind a lot lately.

Have you ever read A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis? Sooo good. And Also Man's Search For Meaning is so profound on the topic of suffering.

I can relate to what you said about losing yourself. The old you. You grieve that loss too. You change and grow into something more beautiful, but you miss the carefree girl.

Can I add this post to my collection of Magic Quilt Stories? And I am commissioning you to find a yard of flannel that represents your beautiful daughter, Camille, and send it to me as part of my baby quilt.


Little does this little girl know that there is one woman in this world whose heart yearns for her intensely. If only she knew. Just think how much it would help her in her life struggles.

I wonder if that's how our mother in heaven feels.

Nutty Hamster Chick said...

Debbie, of course I will send you some fabric.

T said...

when I miscarried I was a mess. (understatement of the year) but the one thing that seemed to help was my mom's warning (given within hours of the actual event) not to expect ManOfTheHouse to grieve exactly like I was grieving. I think that saved a lot of heartache and argument, if not our marriage.

Loss is always hard, and it's okay to grieve in your own way - however long it may take.

With Camille it's even a little harder I'd venture - since she's still here, just not Here.

Nutty Hamster Chick said...

T I do appreciate the differences between men and women, and although I understand, it is just part of the alone-ness I feel.

You say I can take as long as I want, but really 13 years seems a bit much to me. I think I should be over it, but perhaps it is unrealistic to ever be over. I have moved past that initial horror of going on living, and have found a way to not let it consume every thought of every day.

Just every now and then I take the grief out and play with it and then I put it back behind closed doors.

I don't even think this makes any sense.

Anonymous said...

I remember this time of your life. And I remember the you you talk about. I will never forget all the things you've taught me. To be friendly to all, to sew, to make freezer meals, to make jam, to enjoy fireworks from a rooftop, to throw parties for others, to give service, and to love all. Wow as I typed all that I realize even more what a huge role you played in my young little married life. You taught me how to be a wife and mother. I assume you are much of those things still today and I think Camille is a lucky girl to have your love for her still even if she doesn't realize it. Thanks for having been that person I needed in my life at that time!

Smart Helm said...

I agree with the other comments that you are great. Thanks for hanging out with me all weekend even though u were experiencing this. Hopefully the little pigs helped :-)

farmgirl said...

Wow, Patty, I didn't know this I don't know, we are cousins after all. I am so sorry. I don't know what else to say other than I am so, so sorry. She was lucky and blessed to have you in her life (even for a short time) are we all. Much love to you.