l’instinct de vivre

so why did i come back after all this time? why did i return to this strange little cyberworld that i’d completely abandoned nearly two years ago? i suppose you could say that a book brought me back. to be more precise, L’instinct de vivre a book by Laetitia Lycke, another woman who belongs to the club that no one wants to join. if you can read French, i can’t recommend this book highly enough.

but the story of my return to the babyloss blogosphere (and of how i even came to read the book in the first place) is a bit more complicated than that. it actually started with Skype. several months ago Froggy was contacted by someone through her blog (which she’s been much better about keeping up with than i have with my own). it was a woman who was working on a social project aimed at breaking the taboos surrounding death and at fighting against the isolation that so many bereaved people live with. as part of her project, she wanted to interview parents who had lost babies. it’s an incredibly admirable project, and one that is, in my opinion, very needed. Froggy immediately agreed to be an interviewee.

besides desperately trying to stay out of the range of the webcam during their Skype interview, i didn’t pay much attention to what Froggy talked about with the woman. maybe i didn’t really want to hear the conversation (or at least the one side of it that my ears had access to).  it seemed to go well, though, and afterwards Froggy began asking me when i would have time to be interviewed. she was rather insistent about it, and after a significant amount of evasion, i grudgingly agreed to do the interview and set a time.

as the time for the Skype call approached, i became anxious and irritable. i did not want to talk to this stranger about little sun’s death, and i especially didn’t want to have that kind of conversation on camera. (i’m much happier behind the lens, thank you.) a bit before the agreed upon time, i felt panic creeping up from my belly, and i had to take a lot of deep breaths (and a nice big valium) to keep myself from heading towards hyperventilation-ville.

it may sound silly to get so worked up over a video call  (something that regular people have all the time), but you have to understand that i haven’t had many conversations with people outside of my small circle these last few years. and many of the ones i have had have been painful or disappointing or painfully disappointing. i don’t have the energy anymore for small talk or insincerity, and i’ve learned the hard way that having a dead baby (and especially talking about the fact that you have a dead baby) is kind of like being a modern-day Medusa. (it’s best to just avoid that shit, and definitely don’t ever look it in the eye. oh, have i learned a thing or two about turning people to stone.) and so i have turned in on myself, become smaller, quieter…almost invisible and completely insignificant.  in a way, i have turned myself to stone…or at least tried to. i let no one in and i let nothing out. it has seemed safer that way, even if stone is a terribly cold and lonely thing to be.

despite my reluctance, i’d promised to do this interview, to help out this woman who was trying to help out people like me, so i pulled myself together and pressed the “answer with video” button when the call came in. i think i was expecting someone who was friendly enough but still a bit cold and a bit clinical…someone who would calmly ask me all of the questions on her list and give a noncommittal nod here and and maybe a semi-sympathetic look there . what i found instead, were eyes and words brimming with compassion and kindness, and much to my surprise, deep understanding. it was so much more than the sterile question and answer session i’d imagined. it became clear very quickly that the woman i was talking to had herself lost a baby (her little boy, Gabriel). it explained the understanding i saw in her eyes and the reason for her project. something strange was happening inside of me, like a key turning in a rusty lock and finishing with a thunderous click. for the first time, i found myself talking openly and honestly about little sun’s death and everything that has come after. for the first time, i was able to share everything, including tears, without awkwardness and without shame. this kind stranger was so easy to talk to (even with my embarrassingly limited French) and so genuinely warm and caring that i left the conversation feeling relieved and so much lighter. was the stone actually starting to crumble?

the lovely woman from the interview was and is of course Laetitia, and after her interviews with Froggy and me, she sent us a copy of L’instinct de vivre. i hadn’t realized she’d written a book, and because she’d been asking the questions when we talked, i knew nearly nothing about her story. i was intrigued, and despite it being in French, i tore through the book in less than a day. it is a beautiful, powerful piece of writing….one that is painfully honest about the trauma and grief that are left in the wake of loss. but Laetitia’s book is as much about life as it is about death, and her message is very clear: to be able to emerge from grief, we have to live it and we have to talk about it.

i’m trying to take that advice, but i don’t think i’m the support group type of person, and affordable (and relatable) English-speaking therapists are pretty much non-existent here. making new friends seems highly unlikely, too, so i don’t think i’ll actually be talking much with anyone. that’s where the blog comes in. i keep thinking that maybe if i can’t talk about what’s happened and what’s happening, at least i can write about it. i can at least put my words and drawings out there, take a chisel to this carapace and see what flows forth from the chinks. i’m skeptical but willing to try.  who knows…maybe it will help me to start living again and maybe it will even help me find new connections.

all that from a book and Skype…

(merci infiniment , Laetitia heart2bemoticon)



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