Describe After

Anne Lamott often recounts words that a priest said to her once: “Sometimes Heaven is just a new pair of glasses.” A change in perspective.

How many words and phrases flow easily from the lips of our culture when it comes to death and dying? All of which are fairly presumptuous that those on the receiving end share the beliefs. Words so much more easily given than received. Or comforting only to the giver: a singular perspective. Continue reading

Eight

Raising kids is stamped with firsts. First steps, first words, first day of school, first time driving a car, first date.  There were many other firsts in the year following baby loss.  First Christmas without my babies.  First time a close friend had a baby.  First time I attended a support group meeting for parents that have lost babies.  Continue reading

Passing an Object

I have a small tribute to my daughters on a silver tray in our master bedroom.

  • A box containing ultrasound photos, cards, the program from the Walk to Remember we did last year, and other small items.
  • A picture of the tree where their ashes are scattered, drawn by my aunt
  • A Japanese Jizo statue, guardian of unborn, miscarried, and stillborn babies
  • Three tiny, silver photo frames; two have their footprints and one has a picture of Theo and Quentin together.
  • Two candles from a bereaved parents’ workshop I attended
  • Over the tray is hanging a framed print that says “I will always wonder who you would have been.”
  • Another framed print is nearby, a beach scene with two starfish and the names “Nelle + Iris” scrolled in the sky.

Continue reading

Love Letter

(Note: I tried to write this on Mother’s Day, but I couldn’t. Finished it up today instead, the first day of my third trimester.)

Of all the deserving mothers, this is written especially for those who are not able to hold all of their children in their arms on Mother’s Day:

Motherhood is a mirror. A mother looks into the glass and expects to see a reflection of herself. The best parts glow under the light. The image stares back at her, expectantly. There is always the layer of sweet glass between her and the image. She can try to improve upon herself, try to make things perfect but if she turns away from the glass, she has no idea if the image will follow.  She just trusts that it is there: a reflection, yet an existence of its own.

Add more mirrors and the light will dance and expand and reflect in exponentially larger grace. So it happens when more children are born. More mirrors are added, shining the reflection in new ways, to new dimensions.  The mother envelopes them all as an extension of the original image. 

If crack appears, the mirror is broken. Sometimes shattered. The mother can still see her reflection but it is distorted, fractured. A permanent jarring.  Cannot be fixed.  Never whole again.

It is an existential, quiet love that once created, even in the most minuscule form, can never be erased.  Can never be replaced.  Will always be a reflection outward.

Redemption

“And I felt like my heart had been so thoroughly and irreparably broken that there could be no real joy again, that at best there might eventually be a little contentment. Everyone wanted me to get help and rejoin life, pick up the pieces and move on, and I tried to, I wanted to, but I just had to lie in the mud with my arms wrapped around myself, eyes closed, grieving, until I didn’t have to anymore.”
― Anne Lamott, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year

I fumbled around with the idea of redemption yesterday, wrote nothing.  Bits were churning in my head as I lay awake at night.

The Shawshank Redemption immediately came to mind.  The scene where Andy Dufresne literally crawls out of the shit hole and holds his arms up to the thunder and lightning and downpour of rain, finally free.

I am unsure what would release me, make me free.  Quite possibly, nothing.  After losing Nelle, I thought that another child would balance the heavy debt of grief.  Instead, it was made worse by losing Iris.  It felt like a supreme error in judgment to have wanted another child to replace the one I lost.  That perhaps I had committed a serious sin of the order of the universe.  The universe growled back to me: “No.  It does not work that way.”  And still I wonder.

How can I redeem myself?

Sometimes I blame myself. If I had not wanted more, this never would have happened. Because I wanted, this pain was inflicted upon my family.

In The Shawshank Redemption, Andy Dufresne was in prison, serving a life sentence for two murders. Two people were dead, but he did not commit the crime. He refused to accept the life sentence he had been handed.  He then spent 19 years carving a hole in the wall to free himself.

Perhaps I expect too much from myself. Perhaps this is only the beginning of a 19 year journey of carving a hole in the prison wall to reach my own redemption: forgiving myself for wanting.