15 August 2014

Laughter in the Midst of Grief

Since I think about Lexie and our journey nonstop, I also frequently think back on a few little funny stories that popped up in the midst of our grief. The three weeks between learning of her diagnosis and actually losing her were so emotionally charged and quite frankly, horrific, that Sean and I both found ourselves doing weird things... like buying completely meaningless Costco items. Sean decided that we needed Sonicare toothbrushes. We had been talking about them for a while and by God, this seemed like the best time to do it, right? So he bought these toothbrushes and he brought them home. We stood in our bathroom and he gave me like, a TEN minute lesson on how to use these things. I remember standing there and literally thinking... " Yeah...... I don't get it." My mind was so fried that I literally couldn't even get my head around how to use and care for those damn toothbrushes. Later that night, we stood at the bathroom sink again and he was using the toothbrush. It is like the slowest toothbrush...ever. I watched him use it.... he was so into it. It makes this pathetic little motor sound and then the sound very subtly changes when you are supposed to move it to a different part of your mouth. It's a painfully slow process... I really didn't and still don't have the patience for that thing... I am used to just wildly brushing my teeth and tongue and calling it a day (which would explain my chronic gum recession). He kept telling me how clean his teeth felt. Ohmigod... I just wanted to take that toothbrush and poke his eye out. ;)

But in all seriousness, when I think back on that toothbrush story, I kind of love it. Not that it happened during that time obviously but because that story is so perfectly Sean. He is far more detail oriented than I am... everything he does, he does with 110% effort. Even buying toothbrushes. He showed me exactly how to clean it, how it is supposed to be stored and even the nifty little travel container it came with. He takes good care of his stuff and he takes good care of me. So now our two little automated toothbrushes sit next to each other every day - his is nice and clean and perfect. Mine has dried toothpaste all over it and isn't plugged in which means it will probably be dead when I use it tonight. But those toothbrushes just belong together dangit. They look perfect next to each other on our bathroom counter. They remind me of a very messy time in my life and they remind me that I didn't walk it (or brush it) alone. Sean was right next to me the entire time.

While Sean was fixated on the toothbrushes, I became fixated on this picnic table I had seen at Costco for the girls. I was on a mission for it. Our usual Costco didn't have it so I tracked one down in Tukwila. I brought it home, set it up and proceeded to mindlessly stare at it for chunks of time over the next week or so. I kept saying to Sean "Isn't that a great picnic table?" He would gently reply, "yes it is a great table." We would exchange that exact same dialogue over and over again. I look back now and I laugh. What a weird purchase during that terrible time. But it was so cute and at the time it made me feel hopeful. Hopeful that someday maybe all three of my girls would sit at it.

The week between making our decision and saying goodbye to our girl was the hardest. It was seven days of anxiety, severe depression, tears, disbelief. Sleep was my only escape so I slept all the time. I was truly just going through the motions of life. On one of these days, I had to get out of the house.. well, Sean kind of pushed me out of the house. I was quite literally, losing my mind. So I met Heidi for a pedicure. We sat there getting our toes done - it was so weird to get my feet massaged while I faced such a horrible time. I am sure it was so sad and weird for her to know how to help me but she handled it beautifully which is just so her and why it was her I chose to go with. She knew that there really wasn't much to say. That it was just terrible and unfair. And since she is no stranger to those feelings or the unfairness of life, she was the perfect person for me to be with. Heidi and I had met two weeks before that, on Mother's Day, and gotten pedicures too. It was a much different day - We had gotten coffee, chatted and had a grand old time having no idea that two days later my world would crumble. This pedicure, on this day, was so different. I was literally wearing my pajamas. I hadn't combed my hair. It wasn't pretty. And yet - my best friend, being the amazing person she is - was still able to make me laugh so hard my stomach hurt. She started telling me about how she and her husband, Brian, had just gotten back from their anniversary trip to Vegas. She told me how when they were sitting by the pool, sipping on some drinks and relaxing, Brian took of his shoes and threw his feet up on the lawn chair. She said she glanced over and saw that his entire toenail had fallen off... they weren't sure where he had lost it. The pool, their hotel room, the airplane... who knows. But um... ick! We were laughing so hard in the nail salon. People were staring at us. It was a silly story and told by her, it really is so much better but it made me laugh. Only for a minute or two but it helped. If you have a friend who can sit with you in a pedicure chair during the worst time of your life and make you laugh, hold her tight. They are few and far between.

My mom came with us to our horrible second ultrasound, the one that officially told us what we were dealing with. Thank God she was there.... Sean and I could barely function after it... I am not sure we would have found our way home had she not been with us. A week later, she also came with us to meet with the cardiologist at Seattle Children's. If you know my mom, she is clutzy. Like, really clutzy. Yes, I come by it honestly. When we pulled in the parking garage, she parked the car and we all got out. Well, Sean and I got out. We had made it all the way to the door of the building and she wasn't with us. We looked back and she was literally crawling from the drivers side door to the passenger side door because she had parked so close to the car next to her that she couldn't get out. We started laughing... so inappropriate to be laughing right before this extremely monumental appointment but again, life pokes its head in whether you like it or not. A few minutes later... we made it up to the floor we were supposed to be on. We all took a turn using the restroom. Mom was last. Sean and I waited in the hallway. We heard her trying to get out of the bathroom but it was a struggle... she couldn't get the lock undone or something. It was loud and just clearly a struggle. Sean and I looked at each other and just burst out laughing. She was so funny - it was so her and again, just a teeny tiny little piece of sunshine amidst a huge thunderstorm. Looking back, I know she was nervous and anxious and all flustered. We were all so nervous. While I was facing the worst possible news about my baby, she was watching her baby face the worst possible time of her life. I think she was so upset that she literally, couldn't find her way out of a bathroom.

There have been so many little stories throughout this journey... these are just a few of the mildly funny ones. It doesn't at all touch on all the people who have been there for us - for every one of these little funny stories, there are five little sad ones. My counselor says that within this one big loss are a hundred little losses. So true. And I have decided that within this one big story, are a hundred little stories. And I know they aren't over yet - our journey continues... it's only been three months since our world changed. There is still so much to process, still so much healing to come. Still so many moments of laughter in the middle of grief. But they are coming more often and for that I am grateful.

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