I can’t sleep. I posted my first blog entry earlier this evening and although it’s unlikely anyone has read it, my mind won’t rest with all the stories I want to share.
I want to tell you something of myself before Poppy was born. Until very recently, I was a practicing attorney focusing solely on advocating for people who had filed for Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income benefits through the Social Security Administration (aka the Federal government). It’s a niche legal market and unfortunately one that often gets a bad rap in the media. I practiced this type of disability law for a little over 5 years and I can tell you I gave that work my heart and soul and treated my clients with the compassion and dignity they deserved.
I left my job almost exactly a month ago because I simply couldn’t focus on the issues anymore. I had no idea how hard it was going to be to return to work after Poppy died. I took 4 months off after Poppy was born (originally planned as maternity leave) before trying to work again. Before losing Poppy, I had a mind like a steel trap and was, for all intents and purposes, highly functional under large amounts of stress. I could pull facts and details out of thin air. I could creatively argue legal issues and effectively counsel a wide range of human souls, from the mentally ill to the physically broken and everyone in between.
After experiencing the devastating and unexpected trauma of my baby’s death, my ability to cope and manage even the simplest of work tasks was seriously compromised. I felt re-traumatized every time I opened another casefile. Each life brought with it another set of losses, pain, and disappointment. Analyzing each detail made my own loss more gut wrenching. I knew I’d reached the end when I cried while making an opening statement on the record. Forgiven by both my client and the Judge, I could not forgive myself. I could not go on.
Not working has been much harder than I expected. Honestly, I don’t know what I expected. I didn’t really think about it. Before returning to work, when I was still on “maternity leave,” I felt some comfort knowing that I had a job to return to. Now there is no job to return to, there is only the present. And the present has been scary, but not because I’ve been in it. I have spent very little time in the present…as the mind runs its race and the grief takes its toll. As a 35-year-old confronted with one of life’s greatest horrors, the death of a child, I am forced to slow down. I have no choice in the matter. My world stopped turning when they told us Poppy had no heartbeat.
My mind drifts towards bed where my husband Eli is now sleeping. I should be sleeping. Hey, there’s that “I should” again. Not right now, not with this grief brewing. I am comforted now, albeit tired. Comforted that my daughter’s death has forced me to slow down. When else would I get this chance? Career, success, status — these things mean so little in the end. This life is so precious, so temporary. Nothing guaranteed. Poppy’s short life is teaching me that. I think I’ll go back to bed now.