“I feel like someone died.”
My husband’s words radiated through my own thoughts as I sat at the breakfast counter nursing a cup of coffee. At 5:30am the day after the election, my soul conjured emotions I have not felt since we lost Sophia. As my husband came to bed late last night–long after I had already resigned to letting the election results go unknown until morning–he said two words saturated with sadness and terror: “It’s bad.”
From that point on, even from my sleepy cognizance, my own grief took hold. The nightmares began immediately as I struggled to regain my slumber. Vivid dreams of a President Trump making wildly fantastic laws, a gigantic paper insect attacking us, and a frightful feeling of doom filled the remainder of my time until the early morning alarm went off. As incredulous as my dream world was, it seemed all too fitting for Mr. Trump. Sleep is a parallel world in which current grief has trouble sustaining. Waking up renews the real-life nightmare. Just as I had felt with Sophia, sleep was often a bittersweet realm: at times it provided a reprieve from the gloomy reality we were reluctantly handed, yet the nightmares knew no boundaries.
In the beginning of our pregnancy, a tepid excitement filled the house. Chatter, speculation, and dreaming of a life with a child became our normal. Creating baby name lists and discussing nursery decor were common past-times. We had no warning the rug was about to be pulled out from under us. We had no clue that all we had hoped for, dreamed of, and anticipated with a naive happiness would disappear in an instant. We had no inkling that Sophia would have a disorder nonviable with life and would never make it long past birth–if she even made it that far. Always knowing that something could go wrong, we expected that it would not. The Universe would not do that do us. But it did. And it did it again last night.
When Sophia finally left her Earthly presence behind, the emptiness that filled my being was unyielding. Unable to ignore the constant sickness at the pit of my stomach, tears flowed gratuitously. The question of where do we go from here? ominously loomed. All seemed bleak. All seemed impossible. All seemed lost. This morning, as I shoveled cornflakes and sliced banana into what I knew was an empty stomach, tears brimmed my eyelids. The disbelief was quickly followed by where do we go from here? Will we ever recover from this?
The greatest lesson learned from losing Sophia came in the way of “carrying on”. Watching out the window while still at the hospital, it seemed impossible that the world continued to function despite our searing pain. Cars drove by, pedestrians ran across the street, people walked their dogs. When I eventually returned to work, that too had marched on as if nothing monumental had just happened. My world ended, but it really did not. Going through the motions of life, no matter how meager, kept me sane. It created new memories, gave new reasons to smile, and produced new ideas to mull over. With each day that passed, more minutes found ways to be diverted from my intense anguish.
While losing an election is not exactly the same as losing a child, the oscillating waves of denial, grief, and profound sadness for all that could have been and all that will be lost are reminiscent of my feelings nearly six years ago. The notion that the rights of women, the LGBT community, minorities, and immigrants now loom in jeopardy is terrifying. The thought that our children may not have affordable education, many of us will go without healthcare, and that women’s health issues will be callously stripped away is unfathomable. The sentiment that the rest of the world looks at us in an anxious apprehension causing potential threats to our country is alarming. The weight of these dreaded possibilities recreates that recognizable heavy heart. In the wake of this emotion-filled election, I stand with those of us who feel a deep grief over the unfortunate loss of what this nation could have been. I stand with those of us who know the dangerous potential of a leader like President-Elect Trump.
I also stand with those of us who know survival. We have hit the bottom and recovered. We have seen evil doings and have found our path toward positivity. We have dipped to the lowest valley and risen to the highest peak. Even in the worst of times, life can get better. Even when the most heinous acts occur in our lives, we can find our way out. Even when all seems hopeless and the terror of what is to come overpowers us, we sense all will be ok.
As my husband uttered those somber words, his face matched the hopelessness they evoked. Through my own tears, I remembered how far I have come since Sophia left this world. I remembered how terrified, hopeless, and broken hearted I thought our life had become. I remembered how grateful, hopeful, and optimistic I am today about my family. I remembered how I previously found good in humanity to help us through our greatest loss. I am certain we will find it again.