Some say the child's diagnosis is like a stab to the parent's heart. A shock, a blow that stops the heart from pumping, the world from turning, life from living.
I'm not sure it was entirely like that for me. If it was, the wound wasn't mortal. Rather it was closer to the cut of a surgeon's knife. I anticipated the diagnosis, and knew it was necessary, prepared for it. It was the recovery that took a long time.
I'd wanted to stop the bleeding quickly, put a Band-Aid on it, and heal. But you can't rush grief, it takes its own time. I needed the stitches that came with experience. I needed the tender care of those who had gone before me, applying balm to the wound. First I felt numb, then I was sore, but it got better every day.
I healed up. I dutifully worked through all the stages. I wasn't in Denial for long, though you could say I'd been in denial all along. I was Angry for quite some time. I Bargained better than the canniest of salesmen. There was the Depression. Short-lived, but miserable depression, anemia from the blood loss. And then Acceptance. Text book. Glorious, wonderful, acceptance. All the while I'd known that our baby was no different, no diagnosis would change my feelings. But I'd changed, my life was changed irrevocably. I'd formed a scar. That needed Acceptance.
Only the thing they never tell you about grief, is that it comes around again. Not so bad. Not bleeding so profusely. More like little paper cuts.
The sting reminds you of the bigger pain, as though you were ever likely to forget. I'm cut when my daughter refuses to hug her father, and only my cuddles will do. I smarted when she spurned my parent's attentions when they came to visit. The nick when my younger child surpasses her development, or an overseas school refuses to include her.
Just little griefs; they sting, but they aren't fatal. Paper cuts.
I can dress my own wounds, and even when I can't, they heal up on their own. Give her time, she'll get there. Bandage. She has come so far. Ointment. She is amazing in her own way. Balm. The paper that cuts me is a masterpiece still being written. Salve.
Acceptance isn't just getting through Grief. It is learning that I'll go through many griefs, and just as many acceptances. No use in denying it. Acknowledging that I'll smart through every one of those paper cuts. It is okay to be angry about it. I can even try to bargain that one day my skin will be thicker, eventually dulled to the pain. I can get depressed about it, but sooner or later I'll accept that they will come as part of parenting.
Love hurts. Sometimes a lot, more often a little. If I can recover from a stab wound, I can get through these too. Love heals too.
After all, nobody ever bled to death from a paper cut.
Spectrummy Mummy blogs daily, and can be found lurking on Facebook and Twitter.