By Allison Gauvin
There are few things I am truly skilled with. Arguing is one of my best and worst talents. I will twist and wrench any sense of control a person has over a situation right from their fingertips. My husband, Ben is the charmer, it’s nauseating to watch him work. Sickly sweet, all the right words drip from his tongue as Ben persuades a person to walk away without their pants. But if there was ever a time that we couldn’t shift fate in our favor, it was when Beckett was born. I could not force my DNA into submission, Ben couldn’t chit chat with some fancy doctor and receive the magical formula that would cure our baby. We were backed into a corner and there was no way to manipulate our situation to have a good outcome. Two of our children, Beckett and Clementine, were sick. Eventually their brains and bodies would give out; it was just a question of when.
Inevitable. For me this word is associated with the unceasing march of time and death. Fight. If you can withstand the sheer force of slow moving concrete, eventually you will be encased in a cement block, and there you will sit, stuck. I am not losing control, I am loosening my control. What is coming, whether it is a turbulent or serene, I will welcome it, though I will plant my feet firmly for the aftershock. Fighting against strength that is unknown, coming from depths that you cannot fathom, you will only exhaust yourself. The release as you let it happen to you, whatever the unthinkable is, will sprinkle down and rinse away the tension. The muscles will loosen, letting your opposition fall from your grasp. The electricity will flow, the charge ripping at your fingers tips, eager to jumpstart the life left in the rubble. Once you let your focus drift from trying to stop the unavoidable, you can push your energy into adapting.
Ben and I adapted to our children, as any parents have done and will do. Tiny people will shape your days, months and years. They are inherently fragile, whether it be their bones, or hearts, or souls. We bond with them to strengthen their weakest points, softening ourselves in the process. I became acutely aware of each and every one of my children’s tender spots. I am malleable, becoming their eyes, their grasp, their legs, their voice. We learned to prep snacks and lunches, along with medications and emergency bags. We organized playdates, therapy appointments, and medical history sheets. Mostly we fill them up, pouring out love, letting it wash over them as it pools on their skin, seeping in. That affection is based on supply and demand. I still produce enough for four little babies. Two of them have gone somewhere that devotion can’t elicit a reaction, but I still empty out my heart and half of it spills onto the floor.
As it stands now, I cry everyday. 15 months after my first child went home to Heaven, I weep. For the longest time, I would try to suffocate my urge. My throat would tighten, and the ache would rise up into my cheeks and teeth, like when I swallow too big of a bite of a bagel and it lodges in my chest. How do I fix that? With sips of water. I let the tears fall, big salty drops etching tributaries onto my face. I suck in deep breaths, so I can groan and scream loud enough to exhaust my lungs. Those moments used to last hours, but my body wouldn’t lay still, I would squirm and pull at myself. The surface pinches taking just enough of the edge off, reminding me that I am not hollow.
Today, I can steal away for a few minutes and let myself have that time. I leaned into our bathroom doorframe yesterday, staring at the paned glass of our backdoor. The sun was setting, snow still sitting in the corners of the glass, like fluffy white dust that needs to be swept away. My shoulders sank down my back and I inhaled, the tears started before I finished. I did not push them down or away, instead I pulled up on those raw memories as I sank deeper into the wood. Picturing Beckett and Clementine, I rewound and played a little slideshow of my favorite moments. I focused on my pain and relaxed deep into my wounds. Grief needs to honored, it needs to be mourned. It is taxing to wither for minutes at a time everyday, but to be structurally sound I have to let the broken pieces crumble away a little at a time. I let myself have bad moments, and occasionally horrific days, because it is easier to pick myself up from the floor than to try and rescue myself from the bottom of the pit.
Allison Gauvin stays home most days to care for her wild, little children in a tiny town next to the even tinier town she grew up in. A college dropout, her life has unexpectedly turned out pretty wonderfully, thanks in big part to the high school football player who took a chance on a girl he met in gym class. She swallows books and doughnuts whole, flops around on her yoga mat, and hopes she can someday soften the world’s perspective on life after loss. Find her on her blog or on Instagram.