October 15th is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day.
“There is not a single day that goes by that I don’t think about the child that I lost, and I’m an old man now. Maybe one day you’ll be an old man like me, talking a younger man’s ear off, explaining to him how you took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade. If you can do that, then you’ll still be taking (a baby) home from this hospital…just maybe not the way you planned.” -from “This Is Us”
Life gave me a lemon so sour that it stung, in the form of losing two babies within six months. Two hospital visits, two deliveries, and coming home empty.
I began writing as a way to console myself, pouring out all of the agony I was feeling into words. My own, very personal journey, documented and spilled into words for public consumption; but still, ultimately for myself. It was release.
Eventually it became a journey not just about me. It was about others who journeyed with me. It was about others who watched from a distance and helping them to understand.
I took that wretched lemon and squeezed a drop into a large pool of water. Hardly lemonade. But a single drop of my lemon in cold water to add flavor. There were people swimming in the water, enjoying the coolness it brought, but had never tasted a lemon. I gave them a small glimpse. With each drop, the flavor intensified, however slight.
It became my mantra: to educate, to help others empathize. If I could spare one woman in the future from having to answer the question “So how many children do you have? Are you planning on more?” Or hearing the words “Everything happens for a reason” then I have spared someone a moment of pain that I have felt. I absorb the experiences, so that I can turn it into a meaningful reflection for both myself and others.
My diluted lemonade is for those who have never tasted it; to make them understand the flavor, even though I hope that life never hands them their own lemon. But at least, when someone they know has been handed this type of lemon, they can say “I know that flavor. I am familiar with it. And because I am familiar with it, here is how I can be there with you.”
There is no way to prepare for grieving. None. But my hope is that my words can make it is a little less isolating: for you, or someone you know. That as a community of human spirits, we can learn to navigate this type of journey together, and not fear it. Look forward, into darkness, into light.