When life closes a door, it opens a window. But if the door isn’t locked, there’s no reason you can’t just open it for yourself, right? -unknown
It is Memorial Day. I am sitting in the backyard, with the sound of the waterfall in front of me, and a more distant sound of my children behind me, playing with bubbles. Just enough shade and the sun low in the sky that I can avoid the risk of burning my skin and can enjoy the outdoors. I have my iPad and its external keyboard and sat to contemplate the question “Why do I write?” It does not escape me that on Memorial Day weekend last year, we were carrying Iris’s ashes to the coulee to scatter beneath the sheltering oak where my grandfather, Ted, and her sister, Nelle, were scattered before her. Memorial Day. A Day of Remembering.
I wrote only a few days ago inspired by the quote that “writing is a revenge against circumstance.” Today, I am reflecting on this again. For several months now, I have wanted to move my voice into a more public sphere: wanting to share my words with a larger audience. However, I have been uncertain of what this looks like, or how to navigate such a shift. What started as a deeply personal experience has expanded and now it has reached a point of uncharted territory for me. Moving into a more public space likely means no turning back; such is the nature of the internet. I joined an online community, a six-week group, under some guidance, that will help explore this new arena. The first topic is around “Why do I write?”
Semi-public writing (blogging) began for me in October of 2009, when Theo was three weeks old, a result of being bored on maternity leave and wanting to capture my experiences as a new parent. For years and years, it was merely a regurgitation of our lives and activities, sometimes interspersed with opinions and perceptions. I didn’t view it as obligatory, but there was a sense of fulfilling some type of motherhood goal I had set for myself: posterity, in digital format, for my kids to read and appreciate someday.
That changed on September 7th, 2015, with the first post that I wrote after Nelle was born on September 4th.
I wrote because I was helpless. Because I could find no other satisfying way to deal with my grief. Because screaming and crying, while providing a temporary release, ultimately felt futile. There were so many words to accompany my emotions of profound sadness, despair, anger, guilt, hopelessness, pain, isolation… it goes on, and on, and on. As I just began to feel like maybe I was coming up for air after months under the crushing weight of water, I lost Iris.
I kept writing. I wrote about the ongoing, exhausting experiences of unexpected triggers. The profoundly insensitive or stupid things that people would say to me. My journey through therapy, in attempts to recover from self-hatred and guilt. All of the self-care I pursued through yoga, baths, or expensive beauty products. From the limited audience of people who would read, I received the smallest of consolations for my losses in their feedback: “thank you for helping me to understand what you are going through.”
All grieving is unique: spouse, sibling, friend, child. Babyloss has a special cruelty in robbing parents of a lifetime of memories. I read personal essays from other parents who have experienced babyloss. Some resonate, some don’t. Most are a single point in time, rather than an accumulation of the days, months, and years following the loss of their child. In here, I hope to give my voice, my story. It has been 1 year, 8 months, and 25 days since Nelle was born still. It has been 1 year, 3 months, and 15 days since Iris was born still. Still. And still I write. The words spill out of me in essay, prose, poetry, or angry pseudo-journal entry. Because the loss of my daughters is still something that I feel every day. There is no “end date” to loss, or something that I will “get over.” It is an interwoven part of my life, forever. As permanent as the birth dates tattooed on my back.