A Better Me

I just realized that I will turn 40 in exactly 2 weeks.

2 weeks.

How did it creep up on me? I mean I knew it was coming – like 5 years ago, I knew it was on the horizon. But 2 weeks? Where did it all go? Somehow I always envisioned 40 as a big deal. A big party with friends and family. Lots of bright, happy wishes in the form of cards and tokens. A celebration.

Does that sound shallow?

It’s okay if it does, because I think everyone deserves to want something just for themselves. And as silly as it sounds, a big 40th birthday was my one big want. A throwback to the sweet 16 birthday party. (please don’t toliet paper my house…)Food and friends, music and cake and fun.


I couldn’t even begin to image wanting such a thing now.  It sounds so cavalier to even put the words down, birthday party. I’m embarrassed to think I sound like a petulant child that didn’t get her way. When, in reality, wanting something so happy, so light and carefree, makes me sick to my stomach.

I think this is where I falter, trying to reconcile something so insignificant as a birthday party to the ache of my empty arms. I’m sure turning 40 really isn’t all that lifeshattering – what’s another year?


Maybe it shouldn’t be so much life-shattering as life-changing. I feel the need to do something. To effect a change, alter my surroundings for the better. To contribute to the universe in some awe-inspiring way. Because in the end, day in and day out, I gravitate towards finding a Purpose in all this awfulness.

I associate losing Nathaniel with the loss of my painting. The one thing that defined Me. And not the Me that’s a mom, wife, friend, the Me that’s Amy, before I was anything to anyone else. I was an artist.

Since losing Nathaniel, I have stagnated. Idled away the time, waiting for something to happen. Sure, I was mom, wife, friend, caregiver, but I wasn’t really Amy during those years.

And now, something has happened. Something, dare I say, more than losing Nathaniel. I think losing David can be classified as more. More what? You might ask. More everything. I suppose like comparing living children, you shouldn’t really compare the degree of loss amongst your angel babies. But there is a difference, I feel a profound difference between the two.

Namely, losing Nathaniel caused me to cease my existence. To cease being the one thing that was embedded in every fiber of my being. I stopped painting. But painting isn’t really just about the act of brush stroke to canvas. Painting was a world, a lifestyle. Jobs, galleries, people, there’s a whole world of connections, inspirations, relationships, influence. A world I will never see come to fruition.

Losing David, on the other hand, makes me want to cease being less than my former self and become more. To become a better version of Me. Not really a better mother, wife, friend, although in theory I suppose that should follow. No, I want a better Amy. The conundrum is how? How does one take this grief and instead of losing more of myself,  turn it into something positive?

I am struggling with this black hole of despair, struggling with the demons of guilt, regret and loss, all of them trying to control my head. I am struggling with the wanting to be more than I am and the sheer inability to function beyond simple day to day tasks.

I am struggling. Period.

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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13 thoughts on “A Better Me

  1. Patty

    Struggling is normal. If you weren’t something would really be wrong with you. I’m still hoping that the old Amy comes back and picks up her painting again. I just envision you painting in honor of both Nathaniel and David. I’d love to hear that the Ronald McDonald houses commission you to do paintings for all of their houses. How cool would something in memory of your boys be, to have in each home that is there to meet needs of families just like you. I’m convinced (and maybe it’s because I always see the glass half full) that there is going to be something great come out of all that you have gone through. I wish all of us out here in cyberland could help you through your struggle, but part of me says its part of the process that you need to go through.

  2. Wanting more of being less is not a bad thing. You’re allowed to have wants and desires. Do not feel guilt for this , instead give yourself permission to BE. Be that woman, mom , friend, sister, person that Nathaniel and David knew and would want you to be. Fight for this person… she is worth it!!!

  3. jas h.

    as a painter and a mother, this post both broke my heart and inspired me. for the love of god, amy, pick up that brush! and, dammit, have a birthday party. you will never get over the pain of your losses… but life keeps moving even when you are standing still. you deserve to claim something for yourself. i wish i could be here to help you celebrate.

    much love and light,

  4. I have been thinking about you lots (even though I haven’t managed to keep up with reading blogs in general). The previous commenters have left lovely comments and I echo all of them. If you want a party (no matter how small) then have it, if you don’t feel like it on the day then cancel it. Suit YOU, put yourself first, you haven’t done that for sooo long and it doesn’t come naturally to you I suspect. I understand the mixed emotions that go with this. I wish I could say something more supportive and helpful, but truly, I am sending you massive hugs and moral support via my screen. Jen xx

  5. Joy

    I wish you luck finding the new Amy, from where she is hiding, mixed in and among the echos of the old Amy. And I hope, wish, that the new Amy can rediscover some of her art again, because the world NEEDS beauty. Happy beauty, sad beauty, poignant beauty, thoughtful beauty… whichever. We need MORE of it in the world…

  6. My mother redefined her life at 40. We were in college (she was a young mom like you were) and she was in a miserable marriage with my father. She left him, married someone who was right for her, suffered my brother’s suicide, started working out for the first time ever and finding peace and joy in gardening, cooking, renovating houses. It was all joy and incredible sorrow mixed together. I think about her a lot of the time as I am 41 and a mom of young kids. I wanted to start a family earlier.

    You already are more than you are. No one can go through what you went through and not be. It’s just too early to tell what it is. We don’t know what beautiful seedlings are growing out of the mulch (or cow dung), but one day they blossom.

  7. I think you start where you are now…taking it one moment at a time. I know in the beginning you can’t take on an entire day; it’s just too much. But soon you will feel you are ready for a whole day ahead of you. Make one goal that is attainable in a short period of time. But give yourself the time you need. Don’t rush it and don’t let anyone else rush you. Honestly I took a year off. I went through the motions for a year, and while I look back now and feel like “what a waste of a year” I know it wouldn’t have worked for me any other way. I greived according to my own timeline. And just having the desire to be a better version of yourself is a huge accomplishment. Wanting that and achieving that are linked together. Take some time to really think about who you want to be when you are ready to be “her”
    Allow yourself to struggle…but every once in awhile put on your big-girl panties, put on a brave face, and be the Amy you want to be when the pain is more manageable.

  8. I am impressed that you even manage to get out bed everyday, and manage to log on to your computer to share your thoughts with us!

  9. I agree with all the comments above. Here is one idea for your birthday–something I’ve done many times in the past: An “All About Amy” day. Brought to you by … Amy. Take the day off and do what makes you happy. A pedicure. A massage. A frappucino at Starbucks. Meander through a bookstore. Or an art gallery. Take a nap. Read a trashy magazine. Have a glass of wine. Do what you want. Because when we expect others to make us happy, it never really works out.

    Here’s to a peaceful 40th year–filled with insight, joy, and purpose!

  10. Amy…Although I cannot even begin to compare our stories – yours holds so much more sorrow and pain – I can say that I have struggled to “find Amy” (convenient since my name is Amy also) over the past two years since Mitchell was diagnosed with his UCD. The first year after diagnosis – I just exhausted myself with raising awareness – so no other family would ever have to endure the pain that we did – and that the signs would be recognized early and medical intervention would be sought. It was the only thing that kept me from thinking about what was going on in my life. I was just too exhausted to think.

    Now, two and a half years into the diagnosis and our life with Mitch – I have found a cause. I raise awareness – in addition to raising funds for NUCDF. It is my mission now. It is my calling in life.

    You will find yours – I promise that you will. Possibly writing will be your outlet and mission in life – because you do it so well!

  11. sharon

    Oh Amy, 40 is a milestone in so many ways but probably one you could do without right now. On my 39th birthday we decided to go away to France for a whole week without our sons for my 40th birthday. The thought of a long trip visiting the places we loved without the constant demands of young people especially those who got carsick was a powerful draw. My parents agreed to care for the boys while we were gone and so we made all of the arrangements. Two months before that birthday my beloved Dad died, my Mum fell apart and we prepared to cancel our plans. My next-door neighbour hearing of this, stepped in and told us to go, enjoy our week as she would happily care for the boys. We let her do this and had the most wonderful week where we could talk freely about everything and anything without having to guard our tongues or do any of the humdrum daily stuff that filled my days normally. It was one of the best decisions we ever made. I know that taking a week out is unlikely to be possible for you and your husband but I would urge you to try for a whole day without the children where you could visit museums/gallery/cinemas, whatever you enjoy really, have a grown up meal and be just Amy and James. As for Purpose to your life following David’s death, I too am of the ‘pick up your paintbrushes again’ school of thought. But that is your decision to make when you feel ready for it.


  12. Pingback: Old Scars Made New ~ The First 3 days | transplanted thoughts

  13. Pingback: Old Scars Made New ~ The First 3 days | Transplanted Thoughts

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