What I am due on my due date
I have the ability to choose the worst checkout line every time I shop, regardless of the store. For years I thought it was just my absentminded nature. I must not notice which line is the longest. I tried to make the best of it, laugh and change my ways. I was vigilant about what line I chose every time I went to checkout. Then I started noticing that the length of the line didn’t matter. Even if I chose the shortest I would still get stuck behind the woman with 100 coupons, the man with 100 complaints, or the young adult who can’t figure out which of her credit cards is activated. I started believing that I have bad line karma. The universe wants to teach me something, and the lesson will be delivered in a slow, soul-crushing wait. It is laughable when it is a line.
Why is it that when we look back on ideas of our past self we can garnish so much more kindness than we ever do in the moment? I think I look great in pictures I know I hated years ago. Future me is so much kinder to myself than current me ever is. I think 90% of what I write is complete garbage. Yet, when I cross paths with some words I jotted down years before I love how they read when I’ve forgotten what I was trying to perfect.
When my baby died in utero I often thought about the experience the same way I think about being in the wrong line. I looked for reasons. I must not have been paying attention to what I ate, what I lifted, or what type of medications I took. I must have missed some important step that would tell me what I was doing was wrong. I must have overlooked some symbol that would warn me “THIS IS NOT THE LINE YOU WANT TO BE IN!” or “YOUR BABY IS DEAD!” There must have been something. Anything.
In the absence of a reason I tried to make the best of it. Not that there was much ‘best’ to be made. Six months later there is still nothing good that I can conjure up to make sense out of this last chapter of my life. Regardless, I wanted some tangible impact of her existence. A donation. A gift for a grieving family. Wild flowers. Anything that offered an illusion of joy.
Finally, I turned to karma. I did this. In another life, in this one, in my dreams, in my thoughts or beliefs. This is a message, a directive, a very clear warning that I misstepped somewhere along the way.
I chose the wrong line.
Today is my due date and I’m still waiting for the wrong line to become the right one. I’m still stuck, hyper-analyzing each motion that brought me to this point.
I’m moving on from these thoughts, for the most part. I’ve had to learn to see myself as my future me someday will– with kindness and compassion– in order to get past the ideas that current me gets so fixated on.
“Why won’t you let yourself be sad?” my counselor asks for the umpteenth time.
I tell her, in the way a fanciful child would depict their reality, that I feel like grief is a pie and I’m only deserving of a small piece of it because there are people out there who have had to endure so much worse.
“So you want to save some grief for them?” she asks, dubiously.
I try to explain that I don’t want them to have any pie, but if they have to have some they should get the biggest pieces. There are people who have lived with their children before losing them. There are people who have lost multiple children. They get the pie. They need the most help. A heaping of support. All the toppings. They are the ones who should be grieving.
It makes sense as I say it, but when I try to zoom out and think of me 10 years from now saying it the words no longer hold true.
I am deeply pained, whether I want the helping or not.
“Anyone would be sad in this situation,” I say, gaining clarity one foothold at a time. “I should just let myself be sad.”
It is the truth that I can only see when I change my viewpoint.
I won’t have what I’m due on my due date. She is buried in a place I can’t bring myself to visit. Current me wants to bulldoze through the day, like any other, and pass on my slice of the pie. Future me know that I’m the closest thing that is left of my daughter, the body that grew her, the hands that held her, and the heart that can’t let go. To honor her I have to honor my own sadness.
There was never a choice. Not one conscious decision that brought this on. There wasn’t a right decision or a wrong one. The flow of the line is completely out of our control. There is only stepping outside my own current grief, looking back from the future, and knowing that I did what I have to do to go on. To make it through the line.
Grieve. Remember.Show myself the kindness that the future will afford. Eat as much of the pie as I need.
I’m due at least that on this due date.