Before and After
Zelda and I returned back to work this week at Artpace San Antonio. It feels like I’m re-entering the “real world”. My co-workers were so generous and supportive while I was away, making sure that everything ran as smoothly as possible in my absence. Many of them visited, brought flowers and meals, and called to check in. I am so grateful to have such caring, understanding, and expressive people to return back to. I’m also grateful to have meaningful and creative work to engage with.
Going back has made me aware that my life now feels defined as “before Ellis” and “after Ellis”. Opening my work computer for the first time, my calendar took a while to sync—it was like a time warp, transporting me back to my former reality “before Ellis” when I was planning baby showers and maternity leave. I watched as my calendar caught up, deleting these events and replacing them with grieving visitors, meal deliveries, and doctor appointments we’ve had “after Ellis”.
Being back in the real world makes me painfully aware that along with losing my child, I have lost significant parts of myself: my lightheartedness, my sense of security, and my perception of control. These have been replaced with an acute awareness that everything can change in an instant—“I’m sorry, your baby has no heartbeat.”
However I’ve also emerged from this transformation with qualities I am grateful for and will continue to cultivate: a profound strength I did not know I was capable of, an appreciation for each day I have on earth, a deeper sense of connection with people around me, and a feeling that I am now capable of helping others heal as a result of my own journey toward healing.
By going “back” I am aware of how much I have moved forward. I can mourn what was “before”, while also getting to know the new parts of myself that have come “after”.