There is a solace to moving in time away from the day Corban was born. As little milestones pass (like the three month mark two weeks ago), it gets a little easier. I still feel like anyone looking at me can see the two ton boulder of anguish and loss that I am dragging behind me, but at least I am not as uncomfortable talking about the boulder. It is much easier to simply leave it at “no” when asked if we have children, instead of feeling as though I am betraying my once very real and very alive son by not explaining to every unsuspecting stranger that I had a stillbirth. It has gotten easier to get out of bed in the morning. It is easier to feel hopeful and focus on the future. In A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis, there is a section where he explains a sensation that I would not have been able to put into words but that is apropos. He relays that grief feels as though someone is in a dark cell all alone, when suddenly they feel a breeze and realize that they are not trapped in a cell after all, but are merely in the dark. It is not a relief of the darkness by any stretch, but it is absolutely an alleviation from the oppressive claustrophobia of the early stages of grief. In the first weeks, I felt as though I could not breathe or think or move, like I was stuck in a box barely big enough to contain me. That feeling has mostly gone away. The darkness remains but the horror has gradually, and cyclically, floated away.
Today, Morgan and I received a much anticipated package from a company called Molly Bears. For a very small fee that covers shipping, they make teddy bears for families that have lost a baby. They operate almost entirely on donations and through volunteers. The special thing about their bears is that they are weighted to feel like the child that was lost. I’ve seen bears as small as an ounce and as big as eight pounds on their website. Our Cory Bear came today. I am so glad it came. I had just told Morgan a couple days ago that I felt so disconnected from Cory, that I was starting to forget what his face looked like, that I could only bring the few pictures we have to mind. I was feeling a little anxious, like a butterfly was trapped in my ribcage, as though life was going to continue moving on away from my baby and even his mother was going to forget his face. While I understood intellectually that these emotions were fairly irrational, I could not seem to rid myself of them completely. The Molly Bear’s arrival was an answer to my desperate heart’s prayer for some connection with Cory. While it may seem silly, holding that bear that weighs what he weighed felt like a tangible connection to the baby we were allowed to hold only briefly.
Grief is a strange sort of monster that is hard to pin down. While things have felt lighter and easier lately, there is still a bone-deep weariness and sorrow that permeates our lives. It is no longer a constant avalanche of feelings, but a kind of permanent, and mostly comfortable, companion. For me, I think, grief is a bit different. While I miss Cory with every fiber of my being, I fully expect to see him again. I have faith that has been rocked and has shuddered, but has endured by the grace of God. It makes the stages of grief a little easier, I suppose, when they do not feel cosmically permanent. However, loss is still loss and grief is still grief. I feel a tad more connected with Christ, if only in my glimpse into his existence as a “man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.”
Grief is a weird sort of living thing. Sorrow expands and contracts, like loud and ragged breathing, in a never ending battle for your soul. One day, the despair has retreated from the light of the hope that endures, cowering in the corner like a pathetic thing that does not stand a chance against the majesty of the truly eternal. But the next day, the despair expands to take up every vacant space, turning you into the pathetic thing cowering in the darkness. There is a push and pull, an ebb and flow to grief. Luckily, each cycle leaves you with a bit more light and a little less darkness. You learn to breathe. Then you learn to crawl. You learn to walk and run. I have hope that eventually you learn to fly. The grief remains but the despair lets go, one desperate gnarled finger at a time.
Tiny connections to Cory have been such a blessing. He was only ours for such a small amount of time. Our little bean was not around to leave much of a physical presence. He gave me some stretch marks and some extra weight. We have a small green urn awkwardly perched in our bedroom. We have the tiny square of a blanket that humorously dwarfed his body for the day we were allowed to hold him. But nothing we have been able to hold in our hands has seemed sweet or hopeful or joyful until today. The molly bear, the Cory Bear, has been so comforting in just the few short hours we have had it. This silly little teddy bear has brought us smiles and tears and, because of its weight, the sensation of holding our son again. It helps chip away at the despair to know that someone out there spent time building a bear to remind us of Cory, that they put thought and money and time into comforting us in what has been the worst experience of our life up to this point. There is an undeniable strength in knowing that we are not alone in this, that someone else has experienced the grief in which we are living, and used that experience to reach out to comfort us. It is so good to know that we are not alone.