May 30, 2011

right where I am [part 2]

No-No: 1 yr, 8 mos

Ah, my son. My son.

There is a certain little boy who frequently visits the store where I work, with his mother and grandmother. He is roughly the same age as Noah would be, had he lived. He is also the same color: coffee with cream. Delicious. Gorgeous. Just what I always wanted. A year ago, looking at him made my chest cave in. (One day I literally had to hide, crouching behind my cash register, choking on dry sobs.)

He's toddling now. I saw him last week, holding on to his mama's finger and grinning like crazy over his latest accomplishment. I wanted to scoop him up and kiss him all over his sweet face. I wanted him to be mine. But he's not. He's not my Noah.

No one else could ever be my Noah. My special boy.

I would give anything to have my baby back. To look into his eyes, and see the whole of my universe suspended there. To hear his stories, told in his own unique voice. To feel the solid weight of him in my arms. To watch him grow. It is a fool's dream. I know that nothing I could ever give would suffice. I understand that I am helpless and -- unexpectedly, mysteriously -- my helplessness doesn't make me angry anymore. Every day, I forgive myself a little more for being unable to save him. The self-hatred that had hardened like a lump of obsidian in my ribcage is slowly chipping away.

I don't know about tomorrow, or the day after that, but this is where I am right now. Right now I can say, with a delicate confidence: It is so. It is sad. It is beautiful. It is terrible. It is long. It is the most painful thing that I have ever had to deal with -- and I have dealt with a lot. I am a champion. I am a mother. I am afraid. I hurt. I lose. I win.

It is simple. It is hard. It is so... it is so... it is so.

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May 27, 2011

right where I am [part 1]

Lissie: 3 yrs, 11 mos

I'm almost to her day, Lissie's Day, again. I've been thinking about her a lot, but I haven't been that sad. Not yet anyway. There are other things, occupying my attention right now; happier things, more urgent things. And I don't feel guilty about this, as I would have once. I recognize that I need to embrace happiness when I can.

My grief has changed, recently, as grief does. I've moved away now, for good, from the "this can't actually have happened" phase: the phase where I keep expecting that maybe, just maybe, there not only really is an alternate universe where my children didn't die, but that one day I might wake up in it. Sucks to be you, version of myself that I switched with! Ha!

Yeah. Probably not going to happen.

I guess you would call it acceptance. My baby died. She doesn't need me anymore. She's not coming back. No matter how much I cry, no matter how much love for her I hold in my heart, no matter how many times I say her name... she's not coming back to me.

But she was here, for a little while. She was here, right here inside of me, as close as one person can be to another. She was here and I got to know her, even if it was just a teeny tiny bit, just the smallest sliver of knowledge. I got to be connected, however tenuously, to a bright-burning spark of life and glory. I got to give her a name. That was my privilege, my honor. And it's a beautiful name, for a beautiful girl -- a girl who simply couldn't stay. A girl I have to continually learn to let go of.

Her story is permanently intertwined with mine. She'll not be forgotten; I don't worry about that. Being dead does not make her more important to me than if she had lived, and if she had lived she would not be more important to me than she is now, dead. She's my daughter, I loved her, I love her still. The memory of her is tied to me like a balloon tied to my wrist. I don't need to grasp at it; I already know it's there. It moves when I move. We are connected.

Even if I let go, we are still connected.

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May 25, 2011

a conversation

Please, be nice to me. Be gentle. Be kind.

I'm sorry. Sometimes I still expect too much.


We are getting better though. The breakdowns are fewer and farther between.
I thought that the fear had become greater, because of it... but now that I'm
looking closely at it I don't think that's true. It's not any better, and it's not any
worse. The fear is the same as it ever was.

Nobody wants to hurt. Pain is scary. And there is so much of it here. Inside.
We have to keep bleeding it out.

I don't like blood.

No one does. It's traumatic. And usually, blood belongs inside; good blood
shouldn't be seen. It shocks us when it's seen. But bad blood must come out.
Old blood, too. Or it turns to poison.

Yes. We know about poison.


May 24, 2011

it's too quiet

Loneliness is eating me alive.
Why does everything I want seem so unattainable?

May 20, 2011

love will save the day

Listen as your day unfolds / Challenge what the future holds / Try to keep your head up to the sky / Lovers, they may cause you tears / Go ahead release your fears / Stand up and be counted, don't be ashamed to cry

You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser / You gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger / You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm, you gotta stay together / All I know, all I know is love will save the day...

May 13, 2011


I'm trying to brace myself for the summer's coming grief. But it's hard to do -- and probably fruitless, really -- since I have no idea what it's going to look like this time around. So maybe I will try instead to simply let go of any kind of expectations I find myself developing, and just take the days as they come.

I know I'm stronger now. I've also had time to settle into my new environment. I miss my family still; but I've gotten used to not seeing them every day. It doesn't hurt so much anymore. And I guess with every year that goes by, in the same way, I get used to not seeing my kids every day, too. The ache will always be there; I'm not ever going to forget. And I will always think of them as my babies... But I also know that they are so much more than just my babies.

They are more than their tiny, unfinished bodies ever were. They are themselves. And while the flesh that housed them for so short a time is gone, and they could not stay here without it, they were always more than that, and what is essential about them still exists. I really do believe that. They are a part of my story, and a part of my heart. They have shaped me as a person, and will continue to shape me as a mother.

I'm so sorry you never got to meet them.
They were impossibly lovely.

I will always be sorry that their siblings won't get to know them, too. That my third child will have all the trials and priveleges and common personality traits of a first. Firstborn, though not first borne. But I hope I can do a decent job of integrating Ailis and Noah into our lives, and that their names will be associated with joy and inclusiveness, familiar and sweet, instead of pain or sadness or separation.

I am beginning to subscribe more and more to the idea of neutrality; the idea that things and events simply Are, and it's what we do with and during and after them that matters.

And so I think I'll not say again that Ailis "should" be here or Noah "should" be here. It is too strong a word, and it hurts too much. And I think, perhaps, it takes away a little from the honor and the rights of the child who comes next.

(The one reason I can think of to be grateful not to have had a subsequent pregnancy immediately after my losses is that I do not have the confusion of bearing a child that "would not exist had the other not died." I'm not sure that I believe in that line of reasoning at all, and I hope it wouldn't have troubled me... but it is good to have the clarity that time and distance can bring.)

I choose to believe that everything that was ever essential about my children is now a part of everything I see. That they are reunited with the universe, and so are not really gone, as nothing that was ever here can ever really be completely gone. Stardust. We are all stardust. We are all made of the same stuff, and always were, and always will be.

So in the future, I will look at my children -- the ones who stay inside the fragile tents of their human bodies, the ones who grow and change and speak and reveal to me, little by little, their specific intricacies; and I will smile and I will love and I will drink them in. But I will also look at the sunshine and the dustmotes and the green growing things and the ocean and the stars... and I will smile at them, too. I will fling my arms wide, and embrace what I may of the vastness of the universe, and all that I love that dwells within it, until I am reunited as well.

For what is to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

Kahlil Gibran

May 12, 2011

I remember

I remember lying on the dock in the middle of the night with some of my very best friends in the world, staring up at the stars, feeling infinite.

I remember the magic of phosphorescence glittering in the air and in the water.

I remember being up all night, begging Noah to stay with me.
I remember when I knew for sure that he had gone.

I remember the smell of the schoolyard in the fall.

I remember feeling different from every other person I ever met, and never being quite sure why. (But I know why, now.)

I remember so many things I wish I could forget...

I remember being lost in the grocery store when I was four years old, and that my mum didn't even notice I was missing. I remember how utterly unruffled she was, both before and after my return, and my despair at this confirmation that it didn't much matter to her where I was or what happened to me at any given time.

I remember playing Barbies with Danni. I remember her dollhouse was so much nicer than mine, because her grandma was so much richer than mine.

I remember dancing. I remember when I realized I was good at it. Even better, maybe, than my best friend, who (I had thought) was always better at everything.

I remember morning sickness, and I remember when it stopped.

I remember blood.

I remember my first vision of Lissie, breathtaking in its vividness and clarity: a tiny spark of pure Life inside my belly, content, whole, peaceful, filled with laughter and light. (Even though her body was barely formed, she was already so clearly herself.) I remember my awe of her; of her perfection, her completeness, her uniqueness, so separate from me and my anxiety and my fear and my scars.

I remember the day I forgave myself for being my parents' daughter, and understanding for the first time how meaningless that connection was for my future and my personhood. And in turn, how my daughter was her own self as well, and her father's issues and my issues had nothing to do with who she was as a person either -- and that we both would be okay.

I remember riding my bike home in summer twilights, the sound of tires crunching on gravel and the wind rustling through the fields, the smell of corn and raspberries heavy on the air.

I remember the fair.

I remember the ER.

I remember tears, and laughter too, and promising to be friends forever; and I also remember when I first realized that forever was not as long as we always imagined it would be.

Inspired by Alana.

May 10, 2011

she'll know

A miscarriage is a natural and common event. All told, probably more women have lost a child from this world than haven't. Most don't mention it, and they go on from day to day as if it hadn't happened, so people imagine a woman in this situation never really knew or loved what she had.

But ask her sometime: how old would your child be now? And she'll know.

Barbara Kingsolver

Lissie Doll, you should be nearly 3 1/2 years old... but instead you are nearly -4.
I really hate math. And I really miss you.

May 8, 2011

Mother's Day Roses

Some of us will receive flowers today, in honor of our motherhood; but I know that not all of us will. So I gathered some roses for you, my lovely readers. You may go to the album, right click on your photo, and save it to your computer. Feel free to use it however you like, digitally or in print. My one request is that if you post the photo anywhere online, you would kindly include a link back to my blog.

Wishing everyone a peaceful day. xoxo -- vera

May 5, 2011

when midnight comes, and finds me alone

And I'm stuck in a dream / That will not let me go
That will not let me go, that will not let me go / Will not let me go

May 3, 2011

of noble kin

When I first decided to name my baby girl, I searched a myriad of websites for names based on the meanings "light" or "sweet" or "good." I was desperate to attach a name to her that was the opposite of my experience of her conception.

I knew that she was completely the opposite of dark and horrifying and bad. She was my daughter. And it was not her fault.

One site turned up Ailis with the meaning "a light," and I loved it immediately. It was perfect. Interesting and different, and I could refer to her as Lissie, if I ever had the strength. I've always liked Lissie. So Ailis it was.

Except I can't find that site anymore, the one that says her name means "a light." (Not that it matters. It's her name, and it means that to me, whatever else the sites say.) Actually, the most common definition that comes up is "of noble kin."

When I first realized this, my thought was: Whaa?

Noble kin.


Her father is a nameless, faceless coward who still haunts my nightmares and every shadowed alley, four years after our single shattering encounter. I have no idea what his family is like. And my own ancestry, generation upon generation, is an embarrassment, to say the least. So, yeah. Noble kin? Oops!


The more I thought about it, the more pleased I was with this additional (and indeed, more commonly offered) meaning that is attached to my daughter's sweet name. I like to think that maybe, just maybe, I could count as that noble kin. That I'm enough. That even though I'm just one person, it's enough to make the definition true.

And of course there are other people, who have stepped up and been family to us. I like to think that it makes my girl and I part of a bigger kind of family; a tribe bound by common spirit, instead of common genes. A kinship of perseverance and right-thinking and courage. Full of hope. And gentleness. And light.

My girl is a light, even if I'm the only one who can see it.

My girl is noble, and of noble kin.

May 2, 2011

a better world

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. So when Jesus says “Love your enemies,” he is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition. Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies– or else? The chain reaction of evil–hate begetting hate, wars producing wars–must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, The Strength to Love

I’m concerned about a better world. I’m concerned about justice; I’m concerned about brotherhood; I’m concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate through violence. Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Where Do We Go From Here

May 1, 2011