I have a hard time knowing how to answer when someone asks, "How are you doing?" It's not necessarily because I don't want to talk about what's been going on or how I'm feeling, but just that I don't really know what to say. I don't always know how I'm doing. And most of my processing, crying, and thinking things through occur at night with the stillness and quiet of laying in bed.
Also, I've discovered that I've become the friend who makes outings awkward and uncomfortable. I don't like to use the word "hate" very often, but I'm pretty sure I hate that I bring a big elephant into the room with me. I drag it around behind me, my elephant who is chained to my ankle (or rather, my heart), and everyone is keenly aware he is there but no one wants to say anything. My "baby-who-died" elephant. I don't want to make people uncomfortable, but he is a part of me now. And I hope that at some point my elephant becomes less awkward, and even though I hate his awkwardness, I guess you could say that I love him. Because he is my story. And I would rather have my strange and difficult "baby-who-died" elephant than nothing at all.
(Am I losing you here as I delve deeper into this whole "elephant" thing? I'm getting a little caught up and carried away in this the symbolism.)
And it's hard. It's hard and uncomfortable and awkward, for all of us. I don't blame anyone, because I'm sure before all this happened I would be the exact same way. And maybe not all people who've lost babies and loved ones would agree, but I say just bring it up. Don't be afraid that bringing up my baby will remind me of his death because he will always be in my mind. I know that you might be afraid that I don't want to talk about it, but that's okay. Please. Ask. (Just choose gentle words.) And if I don't want to talk about it I will let you know.
There are so many things about this that are hard, I am continually being taken by surprise. I suppose if I had thought about it, I would've realized that I have an elephant permanently attached to my heart, but of course I'm so stuck in my own head and my own world that I didn't even notice when he appeared.
As an aside: I can't decide if I like using this elephant analogy or not (even though I keep using it). We bought a stuffed animal elephant for our baby while we were in San Diego this past spring. It was long before we knew anything other than that we were happy to be adding to our family. The elephant is Calvin's and will always be his. I used "elephant in the room" simply because everyone knows what that means, but if Calvin's animal is an elephant I'm not sure that I want this ache (and awkwardness) to be associated with that. On the other hand, maybe I can think of my heartache as his stuffed elephant always being with me.