Can I see myself through the eyes of Nelle and Iris. How would they love me in this? How would they care for me? How would they see me?
Without ever having met my daughters, I decided to approach this from the perspective of all of my children and how we would handle as a family. That either Nelle and Iris are with me, mourning the loss of another girl baby, or I have just one, either Nelle or Iris, and we are mourning the other. I tried to be more nondescript and just looking at how “my children” care for me.
Children know. They have an acute awareness for when their parent is in pain. They might not fully understand it, but they rally as if to say “I am here with you.”
My living children have gathered around me. Sometimes it is just reaching out to touch my hand when I am crying. Other times, I when I think I can no longer laugh, they force it out of me with their silliness. They are inquisitive. They are brutally forthright, with simple statements like “I’m sad the baby died, Mommy.” Small comfort that by being so young, that they do not grieve like I do.
They are my lifeblood. Their innocence is palpable.
She knows that she is a reminder of the other who is not here. It is like they were twins and one survived while the other did not. She accepts that responsibility and carries it well. She knows that I would never say those words out loud. She looks at me sometimes, as if to say “It’s ok. I know what you need, and I can be that for you.”
My living children travel with me as we move further away from today’s grief.
Five years from now… They understand the loss a little bit more. They feel the absence of a sibling.
Ten years from now… We still celebrate the birthdays for all of my children, living and dead. We light candles on Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day (October 15th) every year. We pray together on All Souls Day.
Fifteen years from now… They are teenagers, emerging into adulthood. They pull away from me as they spread their wings. I never let them forget the importance of remembering.
Twenty years from now… They are married and starting their own families. I worry throughout the entire pregnancies, worried that I have passed along some genetic trait that will cause them the same pain that I have suffered.
Thirty years from now… We gather under the sheltering tree, where her ashes were scattered. We cling to each other. The tree grows and spreads, and our family grows and spreads. The tree may have stretched in different directions over the years, but it is still firmly rooted in the earth.