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Friday, February 13, 2009

Why I deserve chocolate at midnight

image credit: The Pioneer Woman

Marc is working late, finishing up a project. I'm staying up with him, to keep him company... at least for as long as my eye lids will permit. For now I'm happy to sit here with my laptop, being soothed by the calm drum of the rain on the skylight.

The sun was actually shining this morning when we woke up. I love being woken by warmth and light, and the birds singing. It makes it feel like this long winter is almost over. I know "winter" here is nothing compared to other places, but there is part of me that feels like it has been winter since July.

We met with our tax person today - Sandy. As far as taxes go, it wasn't anything to celebrate, that's for sure. But, crazy story... turns out Sandy has twin boys. It's unbelievable how often we run into people now with twins. As she was reviewing our P&L, she noticed our section for "funeral expenses." Before I knew it, I was telling her about our twins, and then she was sharing her story. Few words needed to be expressed... there was an unspoken understanding of pain and heartache, though her pain has matured by 15 years and our stories and outcomes were quite different.

At her recommendation, after leaving her office, I made my way down to the Social Security office. As I sat in the waiting room, I played through my mind how my conversation would go. I would just very casually explain that I needed to apply for a social security card for my daughter. Simple enough. I wouldn't need to go into any detail. I didn't want it to be hard. I didn't want to get emotional.

Then my number was called. I handed "Sheryl" the birth certificate and gave her my simple pre-rehearsed request. I wasn't prepared. I should have expected that there would be questions. People always ask questions. Questions that appear, on the surface, to be simple and uncomplicated.

"Oh, okay. So, is your baby at home?"

Oh crapiola. Hurry, think of an easy answer. But, make sure to keep your voice low so that the other 20 people sitting behind you, waiting their turn, won't be included in this very delicate and private conversation.

"Um, no. She didn't make it," desperately hoping that would be enough for her to catch my drift.

Totally confused look all over her face.

I don't even remember what I said at that point. I was sure that everyone in that room was straining to hear every last word that came out of my mouth, because I swear it got pin-droppingly silent. Whatever I said, I must have given her a satisfactory answer, because suddenly she was nodding her head apologetically.

It turned out that having a birth certificate wasn't enough. I needed a second proof of identification. How in the...?? It was at about this point that I wanted to walk myself speedily out the front door, wondering why I put myself through these awful situations. I did actually do just that, making sure not to make eye contact with any of the curious members of my personal audience. No curtsy today.

I left, though, only to return 23 minutes later with their requested second proof of identification. I was relieved that, by the time I returned, I had the place to myself. Just Sheryl and me. No waiting, no audience, and all the awkward questions were already out of the way. I brought whatever I could think of that would satisfy their requirement, to prove I had a daughter that lived for an hour. But, I can't ever just leave it at that - I had to at least mention Emmaline. As long as she knows about one, she has to know about the other. Of course, I've learned to keep it brief... people don't like hearing about them. It makes people very uncomfortable.

I was glad to leave, having everything over with. But, once in the car, I had my usual release that follows events like that. I hate that I can't wish the pain away, that I can't wish for a normal life again... because that would mean going back to life BT (before twins). And, as broken as I feel, I wouldn't want them to have been born into any other family. They are mine. I am theirs. Forever. (And, Marc is most definitely included in that, too... "we are theirs" just didn't sound right.)

So, I came home, crashed on the couch. Exhausted. Then, with a break in the rain, I spent my afternoon in the garden - my favorite place to go lately. It is teaching me about grief, about healing. I'm glad it'll still be there tomorrow, waiting for our afternoon appointment. The garden and the grief.

For now, there is leftover chocolate sheet cake calling me. And double chocolate fudge brownie ice cream. The perfect midnight snack to close a day like today.


Deetsgirl said...

Oh Megan, my heart aches for you. I didn't even remember my experience at Vital Statistics until you posted this. After I visited them last year, I so wanted to write to the head of the agency and wish that they would teach a course in ettiquette. I had the lady say to me, did you realize that you have a death certifice with only one birth certificate. I calmy relayed that I realized that I had identical twins and one didn't make it. We were also upset to learn that we couldn't count funeral expenses for a stillborn baby because they aren't considered a viable birth. It was such a devastating day. I wish that there was someting that we could do for these situations, but I think that you are able to share with us is going to help just a little. Take care and enjoy your husband during this romantic weekend.

-Amber Deets

Allred Mom said...

I wish you would've called me and I would have gladly gone with you to help you with this experience! I'm glad that there was a tender mercy of a break in the rain so you could work in the garden! And I'm totally for chocolate at midnight!
Love ya bunches and hugs are being sent your way, too!

Heffalump said...

I want to hear about them. I cry for you, but I don't mind you talking about them. It made me sad when you said that people don't want to hear about them.

Jeff and Lisa said...

You deserve way more than just chocolate. I bet this post was very draining to write, but I am so glad you shared this experience. I am again in awe at your ability to express your feelings. I think you are amazing. I am so sorry this was a difficult day for you. I think I know what you mean though about people reacting in an awkward way. It happens when I talk about Emma and this very familiar ache comes back to me that is difficult to describe, but something I know well. It is always bittersweet. It happens often enough that I have learned to say "fine" when I am asked how Em is doing. I am sure that it is so painful when it comes to your girls. It must make the void you feel for them seem ten times stronger. Big hugs!

I forgot to tell you I am fine with you adding me to your blog list too. I thought we could start emailing too, if you like. That way I won't leave you a book in your comment section everytime.

Lisa, just email me back if you're ok with it.

Kim said...

On days such as these, chocolate is a girls best friend.

Christy Bishop said...

Chocolate at midnight, chocolate in the morning, and every other hour until the chocolate is no longer necessary (let's call that a prescription from Dan cause that is the only one he writes for me!)

My dear Megan, it was good to hear your voice on my voicemail but I was so sad to miss your call.

Sweet Emmaline is too dear not to mention and I wish you didn't have to experience such a dreadful day. Nothing like a mundane trip to the SS office to remind you of the hugeness of your loss. love you and miss you.

Michelle said...

Oh, ouch.
I so relate to this. It was very hard to resist feelings of infuriation when I did my taxes last year and not only could not list him as a dependent, but could not claim the burial expenses.
It's been 15 months for me now, and I still am not good at handling the questions. "How many children do you have?" or worse, "so you just have the three boys?" Maybe someday I'll get better at answering.
PW sheet cake is SO GOOD. I bet that helped at least a little.
I love your idea of gardening. I need to use that time as a peaceful remembering time (right now it feels more like, rats, I need to go pull weeds). :)