I was in the midst of being in love, newly married and just so very happy.
Happiness is simple.
No big words to describe the feeling of being on top of the world.
Young. Innocent. Immortal.
Untouchable by anything bad.
Life seems endless.
Full of possibilities and miracles.
Until something completely and totally unexpected happens.
Until you lose the controls.
Until everything changes.
I was 20 weeks pregnant.
I had gone to get baby clothes.
We had a name.
The baby was kicking every day.
She was here, with us. We went for the ultrasound. Excited to see her.
I don’t think I will ever forget the technician’s face changing. You know the look of dread.
The look of having to be the bearer of bad news.
But I did not see the look.
I was still in my happiness state.
No bad things could happen.
She left the room.
And came back in with a doctor.
Apparently the baby was alive and well, but her lungs were not growing at the speed they should.
We were at 23 weeks.
And already kicking and a full baby inside of me.
They told me that the baby could not make it out into the world. She could only survive inside of me. At first I could not understand what that meant.
Still.…innocent in the midst of a tragedy.
I really believe our divine selves hold on to our innocence until they can’t anymore.
My innocence leapt out of my body when I gave birth to her.
12 hours of labor.
She was born.
But passed on at the same time.
She was alive but dead.
She was here.
But never here.
I think I kept her inside of me since that day.
She is still alive with me. I gave birth to two beautiful daughters in the years ahead. When I look at them. I see her.
I knew I could never reclaim my innocence even though many blessings came to me with my two beautiful daughters. I went on a journey of discovery and life seeking. I stumbled upon grief and life every day. I learned that I had a special journey to make in order to fully live again. First I had to exit my old life, with capturing her memory. Our loss forces us to leave behind the life we’ve been living.
The normal routines of everyday life are disrupted. Some people believe that where we end up after that push-out of the old life is the next phase of life. But unfortunately, that’s not true. In this confused and lonely state, we only end up in the space between two lives.
I begun living in a gap between lives—the life I’ve left behind and the life I had yet to enter. I like to call this space the Waiting Room. When we’re in the Waiting Room, we’re still attached to the past—which is already gone forever—even as we’re trying to figure out what the future looks like. In this place, we struggle with our new reality, thinking that it is our new life. We are unable to see ourselves clearly and make decisions as we used to.
Third, I begun to experiment with my new life. This is perhaps the scariest aspect of life after loss, because so much is unknown and has to be taken on faith.
Little by little, I begun stepping out of the Waiting Room and entering a new reality. I entered a new life with my husband and two daughters. We lived fully while still remembering her and holding her with us. My losses unfortunately continued to happen…my hubby died in 2006 from colon cancer. I had to find a new way to live once again. This time it was not my innocence that I lost but my own life. I believe I died with him that day. I loved him more than life itself.
It took me years to come back and step out of the Waiting Room of grief.
I have now been alive and living fully for three and a half years. And yes I have lived in the shadow of loss—the kind of loss that can paralyze you forever.
I have grieved like a professional mourner—in every waking moment, draining every ounce of my life force.
I died—without leaving my body. But I came back and I have learned to remember my past—without living in it.
Now its your turn.
Christina Rasmussen is the author of Second Firsts: Live, Laugh, and Love Again on (Hay House, 2013). Her book is about empowering and inspiring others to start over after loss. www.secondfirsts.com/book