Yesterday my sister and I were texting.
How are you? she asked.
Today I’m sad, I replied.
Do you want to talk about it?
I don’t know. There’s nothing to say. It is what it is, I wrote back.
I remember, when I was younger especially, how much I hated that phrase it is what it is. To me, it just seemed like something people said when they didn’t want to think about hard things anymore, and certainly didn’t want to do anything about them. It seemed lazy and cowardly. But, the older I get and the more I grieve, it’s taken on new meaning. Instead of just being a thought-stopping phrase or platitude, it gives voice to the fact that sometimes there are no words. It is what it is–cancer, the ocean tides, gravity, loss, grief, atomic energy, Mondays. These things just exist, whether we know of them or not. Our words will not change them, our feelings will not wipe them away. Words will not change what is.
I’m not knocking therapy, or talking things out, or anything else; I am a talker, I have gone to grief counseling, I am rarely quiet about my thoughts or feelings. I write this blog, for heaven’s sake, for no reason other than to process my grief. All I have is words.
Unfortunately, all the talking in the world won’t change or soften my reality: I am the mother of three and the raiser of none. The reality is, I might need to give up the dream of a family of my own, which has been the only lifelong dream I’ve ever had. The truth is, my husband and I have lost our children. My faith is hanging by a slender thread. The truth is, I am not yet 34 and I feel like I have lived too long. I struggle to mentally engage with my schoolwork, I struggle to go to the grocery store. My heart is equal parts numbness and agony. I am faced with decisions that are double-edged and time-sensitive, and I can’t make them unilaterally. I am instructed to rejoice in the Lord while my heart lays suffering in my chest. The truth is, I feel cut off from justice and peace and joy. I am afraid that our lives will become haunted by grief and permanent disappointment.
I am afraid that the equilibrium of my life will be a barely-bearable sense of loss. I am afraid the equilibrium of our lives will be as the childless couple who fall silent when talk turns to family matters held in common by everyone around us. I am afraid the loss of our poor darlings will define our lives and doom any more hopes before they begin.
No words will change the fact that our babies are gone, and that I feel lost. It is what it is.