When the world keeps turning without you

On May 4, 2016, my world stopped. My daughter was born 16 weeks early, and everything else just stopped happening. At that moment, on that day, everything outside the hospital walls fell away and disappeared for us.  We plunged into this terrifying world of unknown medical terminology, medical devices that were keeping our daughter alive, and the tiniest diapers and blood pressure cuffs you’ve ever seen.

And yet, the world kept going.  Outside, the weather turned to summer, then to fall.  In the time she was in the hospital, it snowed, rained, was in the high 90ºs, and the leaves began to turn.  The Cavs won the Championship, almost an entire baseball season passed, and football season had started. Holidays- Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Independence Day, my birthday, Labor Day, our anniversary, all kept happening.

And yet for us, minutes seemed like days.  Hours seemed like years. I wished time away like it was mine to give.  Those four and a half months felt like 10 years. We aged more than four and a half months.  But the world, it just kept turning.

There’s a jealousy and underlying anger that I can’t shake, even after this long- that everything kept going without us.  It felt so cruel. It’s less now than it was at the time, but it’s hard to understand why everyone else can keep going when your world is crumbling apart.  I know I’m not the first person to feel this, and I won’t be the last. To know that you were stuck in time while everyone else had the audacity to go about their daily life is an unfairness that I hope you’ll never know.  In your brain you understand, but in your heart it’s much harder.

Just yesterday, I texted a friend whose son is in the hospital to see how he was doing, how she was doing.  I said, “we just got back from vacation, and I wanted to check in!” After I sent it, I re-read the text and was offended for her.  How could I be so callous to mention our vacation while she was watching her son fight for his life? How could I be so insensitive?

We are lucky. SO lucky.  We have rejoined the world again. We are again along for the ride.  We went back to our jobs and our friends- we have a lot of new things too- new purpose, new friends, but we got to return to the world.  It doesn’t happen for everyone. Life moves on. It does, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be softer on those who are stuck. It takes a lot to realize when friends need to be held, to be told that it’s okay to be sad and angry.  When someone you love feels like they can’t re-enter the world again, it’s okay to be there to carry them.