Feeling Crazy

10:35:00 AM

Yesterday, we buried our baby. Today, I am kneeling on the ground beside my son’s grave, tears streaming down my face. I thrust aside the mountain of funeral flowers, and then I start to dig into the loose damp earth with my fingers. I frantically throw clods of dirt into the air, and they land all around me: Thud! Thud! I work deeper and deeper. I wonder: is it possible for someone to uncover a coffin using only their bare hands? I am gulping with sobs. I can hardly see. The only thing I am aware of is an overwhelming longing to see my baby one last time.

No one can see me except a solitary horse gazing from over the fence. I am alone. Could I make it all the way to the coffin before anyone discovers me?  I will be discovered eventually, I know. And then what will happen? Can you still be prosecuted for grave robbing, even if you are just taking what belongs to you? I decide that I won’t end up in prison. Instead, I’ll be committed to a home for the mentally ill. Because they’ll say, “She’s crazy!” And I am. Crazy with grief.

I am crazy with grief, not ordinary crazy, so of course, I don’t really try and dig up my son. I imagine doing it. I want to. But I can’t. Normal people don’t do such things. And though I don’t feel normal, I know that’s how I have to appear.

I kneel on the ground beside my son’s grave, tears streaming down my face. My body is bent over double with pain. My chest heaves as I sob noisily. The tears come from deep, deep inside me, overwhelming me, making me gulp for air. I let the sorrow pour out of me unrestrained… And I imagine digging up my son so I can hold him close to me one final time. Yes, anyone seeing me would think I’ve gone crazy. I am not the woman I was yesterday. That woman was in control.

So many people came to Thomas’ funeral. The church was overflowing but for some reason, no one sat near us. We sat alone in the front pew, isolated with our grief. Yes, our friends and family were there in the church with us.  Praying for us? Yes. Caring for us? Yes. Crying with us? Yes. Watching us? Maybe. I felt on display. Would I act like a normal grief-stricken mother? How does a normal grief-stricken mother act?

The comments at the wake:

“You coped with the funeral really well, Sue.”

“I was surprised you didn’t cry more during Mass. You had it all together.”

“You didn’t fall apart.”

 “I once went to a funeral where the bereaved mother was so grief-stricken she threw herself into the open grave.”

Should I have done that? I could have done that. But I didn’t. You’d have to be crazy to do that. Wouldn’t you?

Yesterday I looked calm and in control, but my thoughts…

Oh, how I longed to see Thomas once more before we buried him. I looked at his tiny white coffin sitting in front of the altar and I wanted to go over and lift the lid and gaze once more upon his sweet precious face. But I didn’t go up to the coffin. I knelt in my pew wondering if the lid was nailed tight. Of course, it was. Isn’t that what normally happens? But what do I know about normal? It’s not normal to attend the funeral of one’s own baby. 

I knelt there in the pew wishing I’d asked about having an open coffin. I’ve heard about funerals where the deceased can be seen. Why didn’t I ask about the possibility? Was I just too shy or confused about the options? I thought: Is it too late? What would the funeral director say if I asked him to open the lid? Would everyone be horrified if they had to look upon our son, our beautiful one-day-old, one-week-dead son? How I wish I could see him again. Look at his little toes, touch his face gently, curl his hair around my finger… 

But we lowered him into the earth and said goodbye.

And just as I was saying goodbye, I noticed that Thomas’ crucifix was still lying on top of the coffin. I had planned to take it home. The coffin was starting to descend and I wanted to leap forward and shout, “Wait! I want the crucifix!” But I didn’t. Bereaved mothers don't suddenly shout and cause a fuss. Or do they? I stood still and let the crucifix disappear. Disappear with my son.

What would everyone say if they could see me here, sobbing by Thomas’ grave? What if they could hear my thoughts? They think I’m coping, that I’m doing okay. But I’m not. Here I am alone, drowning in my grief.

I wipe my eyes and blow my nose. I breathe deeply and bite my lip to try and prevent new sobs escaping. I have to regain control. I have to drive home. I have to push my sorrow back down to a manageable level. No one must know how I really feel. They mustn’t know what I really think. There are just some things I can’t share or talk about. There are some things I can’t admit. Otherwise, everyone will think I am going mad.

Mad? I'm not, am I? It's just grief. But sometimes I wonder.

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