True Life:: I Am Your Worst Nightmare

Christian's Feet
                     Photo by Ally Dodd Photography

I am your worst nightmare.

It’s my sole responsibility for making this exchange between us as normal as possible. Just looking at me makes you tap into primal fear. It’s up to me to make this less awkward for us both. You don’t even look the same to me. The words coming out of your mouth are a language I once spoke too- absent of the choking sadness and the new medical vocabulary that now comes along with being me. In fact, everything about you and the world you live in was something I used to know. Now, I’m your worst nightmare. I represent everything that makes you shudder and hold as tightly as you can to all that you love.

It won’t hurt my feelings if you acknowledge that I’m not the same anymore. In fact, I need you to notice that I’m different. I need you to recognize that who I am now stands for everything that would completely wreck your world too. Why do I need this? Because you will validate my pain.

I’m your worst nightmare; I’m a mother who has lost her child. Because he died.

Forever.

I hear you when you say I’d be better “getting back into a routine.” If you tell me again that everything “happens for a reason,” I will likely punch you or end up inconsolable on the floor as I’m milliseconds from either behavior at any given time. I haven’t learned yet how to breath in and out with this new weight of grief which suffocates me like a semi-truck filled with rocks sitting on my chest. Unless another initiated member of this horrible club is in the same room, I’m always alone.

Involuntarily, I was sent down this road which leaves me constantly searching for anything familiar and less painful. I wish to God that I could come home. We talk about our needs and worries and I will always win, at least for a while. Please don’t try to relate your bad day or temporary inconveniences to what I have been dealt. Right now…in life…I just trump you, if that’s okay. Also, what I believe I need now has to be alright. And when I’m wrong about what I think I need, I’m still right – because, I don’t know anything anymore. There was no warning preceding this journey I’ve been catapulted into. It’s dark, I have no radio to safety and zero direction.

I know I embody what you fear most in life. I struggle to make you feel better about my situation and I’m trying my best to take ownership of your loss of what to say as this is my burden to bare. I pray you realize how impossibly much I appreciate you, though. Likewise, I wish more than anything that I never hear from you. I wish I didn’t have your attention; that would mean you’re not thinking of me because I didn’t have a baby who couldn’t survive outside of my body.

I wish that we’d connect once a month when you’d “like” his cute milestone pictures. I’d proudly display his age using the obligatory onsie sticker and announce all the things he does and eats because that would mean he’s still here…doing things and eating and breathing and smiling at me and…alive.

If I didn’t hear from you, it means that I don’t know the feeling of him lying on my chest when his little heart stopped beating while mine had to keep going. I’d never know the mornings after and the wake-ups that follow sleep which allowed for temporary amnesia. Like water filling my lungs, reality comes flash-flooding back and I remember not to listen for his cry because his room is still empty. If I never heard from you, it would mean that I don’t know what it feels like to physically ache for someone I’m biologically created to nurture and grow.

I’m a human test-sample of what we both know is a parent’s true ability to survive. I’m living my own worst nightmare so I know I’m living yours too. I’m a mother who’s existing after the death of her child and I’m a woman who is desperate to find happiness in a life I didn’t want. Sure, I’ll have joy; I’ll even laugh sometimes, but I’m stuck in a picture that has been torn into a hundred pieces and put back together again. My picture and I will never be the same.

Please show me you recognize the magnitude of the irreversible shift in the core of my universe. I want things the way I knew them, but please don’t try and make life like it was. That would mean that he never happened and he did. Also, say his name…a lot. Don’t tell me he was beautiful; tell me he is beautiful. “Was” means he’s gone and that makes it real and final and he’s not any semblance of passed-tense to my heart.

So, this is what I’m feeling today, and tomorrow, I can change my mind because I’m allowed to. I’m a momma without her son and for the rest of time I will be searching for the best way to do this life. Please keep showing up for me, even when you think you’re doing it wrong, instead of not showing up at all. Please keep trying, even when I don’t answer, because one day I will and that’s the day I’ll need you the most. Please also remember that unless you can find a way to bring him back, I might always make you feel like what you can offer me isn’t enough, because it just isn’t.

Now, instead of sleep, it’s insomnia that keeps me stuck inside our worst dream. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but from the deepest part of my being, I wish that mine wasn’t the scariest story we have to tell.

 

Lindsay Hernandez
Lindsay was raised on Anna Maria Island before attending University of South Florida (Go Bulls!) eventually earning her degree in Varying Exceptionalities. Lindsay is married to her biggest crush, Mike. She is the proud stepmom of two girls and is a momma to the love of her life, her son, Bowen. Lindsay and Mike are also parents of Christian Michael, born 2/25/16, who now lives in the arms of Jesus. Lindsay is a proud member of Chi Omega and The Junior League of Tampa. Lindsay has a personal and professional passion for working to better the lives of others. She is devoted to her community and her family and loves bringing happiness to everyone around her. Lindsay is a wannabe foodie and lover of all things romantic. She craves travel and has a special place in her heart for anywhere she can find shrimp and grits or a hot sandy beach. Lindsay is obsessed with date nights, brunches, a special coffee, great wine, and surprises! She lives to pull off a special moment for someone else! Lindsay continues her career as a Special Education Specialist and is currently continuing to improve her glide across this long, ever-wiggly tightrope called motherhood. What is your favorite thing to do in Tampa Bay? Finding new restaurants and creating new date experiences. Also, to take advantage of the many family friendly events around town making new memories with our kids! What are your guilty pleasures? Those first few minutes in a hot tub, U-pick seasons (especially blueberries and peaches!), bing-watching a TV series I never knew I could love, an apple fritter from Turner’s donut shop in Bradenton and naps! List a few things you can’t live without. My faith, and my husband and kids, of course! Also, the excitement and anticipation that comes with a new adventure or an easy movie night at home. Making the most out of the little things and memories out of the simple or unplanned. And, HUGS! What would your perfect day entail? In my ever-so-contradictory fashion, any day where I can feel excited about what is in store or completely relaxed about the nothingness that awaits me. Waking up to a good country breakfast, a special coffee or mimosa! Traveling and meeting locals to find where the best little hidden gem (preferably a restaurant!) is located, attending a fun date or event, or living traditions and creating new ones with our family. I also love a day that requires zero agenda and is spent by a pool or beach with not a care in the world. What’s the best thing about being a mom? Everything! The newness that comes with every day and each new experience. The lessons I have learned from those times that didn't exactly work as planned. Watching in awe as these little lives grow into becoming their own people with personalities, opinions and ideas! The amazing connection with my husband as we navigate this crazy, amazing life together and the relationships I've been blessed to grow with other parents who are traveling the same journey!