Sunday, April 6, 2008

Flickers

One of the things that drove me batty early on was this thought of how few people even know of A, let alone love him. All these people I saw going about their business, taking their kids to school, shopping, eating, going to class-- none of them knew that my world stopped and broke because a tiny beautiful boy with long fingers and curly hair died. They didn't, and would never know who he was. "You don't go around telling everyone you meet about Monkey" said my sister. Yes, but that is because she is right here in this world, and she can make her own impression on it. He will never grow up to do that for himself.

I knew of a few bereaved parents before A died-- three whose blogs I had been reading on and off for years, one couple in real life, and some who were acquaintances of friends or family here and there. After I started reading and then writing last spring, I "met" many. And then met several in real life.

Something happens when we do that, when we meet, be it in person or online. We amplify. We learn of and carry with us each other's children. We remember them, we learn to hold each other's hands, most often virtually, in anticipation of the anniversaries or just because. Yes, there is great relief in being understood and not judged for all these emotions that come with being a bereaved parent, in being told and this too is normal. And yet, I think, there is a separate relief in feeling, even if we can't articulate it, that our children are remembered and thought about. Not just us and our grief, but the little people whom we grieve.

After I saw my doctor on Thursday, I went to the cemetery. It is only a couple of miles away from my doctor's office, no more than a five minute drive. The sun was shining, although it wasn't exactly warm. It was a crisp kind of a spring day, and for some reason, no matter how craptacularly I felt, I also felt pulled to that cemetery. When I got there, I could tell that something wasn't right. There was a new marker next to A's. But before I could bend to read it I realized that A's marker wasn't in the right place-- it got moved by a row. It must've happened when they were preparing for the new funeral, but it had me upset. I went to the office, and the lady there came back to the baby section with me, checked to see that I was right, and moved the marker back. There was even an imprint in its old spot, so it wasn't hard to do. But it made me think about the impermanence, about how we still are the small lonely voices for our children. And on the very practical side, about how JD and I absolutely must solve our aesthetic differences on the design of the permanent marker and have it made and installed, because the granite base with bronze plate on top is a lot more permanent than the little metal marker in its humble green frame. Afterwards I read the new boy's marker. Friday, March 28th. Less than a week at that point. Different funeral home, different frame.

It's been a tough winter in blogland. Tough fall that brought many new dead baby blogs, tough winter that brought more, and that made too many infertile bloggers into dead baby bloggers. Today was Natalie's due date. Today was also the memorial ceremony and tree planting for Natalie and Den's beautiful first born son, Devin. Today, at 6:58pm, the time of day when Devin was born and the time when a cherry tree was being planted for him many miles away, I lit some candles.

 

For Devin, for Natalie and Den. For all our babies, for all of us. And for all those babies and their parents whose names and faces we don't know. Because all our children are loved, and they all matter.

34 comments:

Katya said...

Hello,

There have been 2 full-term losses in the Metropolitan Doula Group this month (one doula posted the client's birth story, one wrote to me personally after I gave your milk-suppression remedy in the doula-only list without referring to your blog directly, but explaining there is an informal online stillbirth support community).

Both doulas are now wanting to know the coordinates where to find you ladies, to pass that information onto their clients. May I share? There is a... vacuum... when it comes to information and support.

One option is to answer those two private emails with a link to your blog - with your permission of course.

Or is there another way? There is no... centralized community yet, like the live journal trudny start portal for premature / complicated births, is there? Possibly it makes sense to compile the list of stillbirth reckonings, and to pass it onto mothers who have had recent losses? I am not sure.... let's talk.

Thank you much,

Katya Simon
katyadoula@gmail.com

Lori said...

Julia, This is beautiful. You have put words to something that I know many of us find hard to express. What is it we find here that we are often lacking in our "real lives"? Validation. True understanding. Compassion. Acknowledgment. Generosity. Acceptance.

One of the biggest reasons I started my blog was to have a place where I could regularly say Molly and Joseph's names without reservation. I don't know where else I would be able to do that.

Beautiful.

zarqa said...

Thank you.

loribeth said...

Thank you for a wonderful post, & for articulating what so many of us bereaved parents feel. As Lori said, being able to say our daughter's name without reservation is partly why, 10 years down the road, dh & I continue to facilitate our pregnancy loss support group and I continue to hang out with other bereaved parents in cyberspace. You all "get it" in a way that people in my real life mostly don't.

Tash said...

Oh Julia, I simply don't know where I'd be without you, and the rest. The pavers that hold me in. That show me where to go. That allow me to breathe and speak of my daughters, both of them. And I know if people in my life tell me I need to "share the joy" and "get over it already" and "it was for the best" and on, that all I need to do is turn on my computer to know she mattered. She was here. She left an imprint.

Thank you so much.

Ashleigh said...

This is just beautiful and so right. I can't articulate how much it means to me to know that there are people out there that not only know Owen's name but remember him- even without 'knowing' him in the traditional sense. All I really want is for him to count..........

davy boy said...

beautiful and right. thank you, Julia, for this.

Catherine said...

There have been times I curse the fact that I have reason to know you. But today, I am so thankful that I do know you. The love you share with the blogosphere is a beautiful thing and I appreciate every kind word you write. Thank you.

Magpie said...

So heartbreaking and so lovely.

Snickollet said...

Thinking of A and the other children I will never get to know.

I have to say, I almost couldn't read the rest of your post I felt so angry at the cemetery about the moved marker. That really struck me--I'm glad you were able to get that corrected.

STE said...

One of the benefits of belonging to this horrible club is knowing some truly wonderful women and, through them, knowing the children they love, body and soul.

There are many times I'd like to comment here, but I find myself without words. Thank you for your eloquence, and for your ability to express what I cannot; for paving the way (if you will) down this long, ugly, painful road; and for giving those of us new to the walk some glimpses of moments of peace that eventually come with the pain.

j said...

Julia, this is so beautiful. Thank you. yes, I feel less lonely.

Beruriah said...

I am so sorry there's a new grave and marker next to A's. I find myself almost holding my breath as I walk up to Natan's, hoping the space next to him hasn't filled.

Thank you for telling us about Devin, and Natalie and Den. And for remembering my son.

yummysushipajamas said...

This is so beautiful. Thank you.

Natalie said...

Thank you. Simply... thank you.

c. said...

To know that I have a place to come where my son's name is not just met with sadness is infinitely comforting. He matters here, as do all the parents and babies who have found themselves here and I am so very grateful for this.

This is stunning. I am in tears. Thank you for putting it into words.

luna said...

just beautiful, thank you. ~luna

christina(apronstrings) said...

i think of baby A often. and of you. keep reminding people that they matttered. and know that many of us, know that.

Amy said...

This is absolutely beautiful. Thank you.

My Reality said...

What a beautiful tribute. (And great photo.) None of the lost children are forgotten.

CLC said...

Beautiful post, Julia. I am sorry you had to deal with the marker being moved. It seems so insensitive of the cemetery (that's the understatement of the year).

Antigone said...

Thank you.

msfitzita said...

This is so beautiful - it's so, so beautiful that you remember them all. Thank you...

(((((HUGS)))))

niobe said...

This is a lovely post. And yet. And yet. And yet.

As I do far too often, I seem to find myself on the other side of a chasm. I know that, if I asked you, you'd say that that's fine, that we all experience grief in different ways. But -- and I'm sure that there's that selection bias at work again -- I sometimes read something like this and feel more alone than ever.

kate said...

Yes, you are very correct. I am glad you wrote this...

Julia said...

So Niobe... You know, when I wrote the post, and before I hit publish, I went back and forth a couple of rounds on whether to include an asterisk at the last word that would go to the following thing at the bottom "Yes, Niobe, even yours." Because, and forgive me for the mush that's about to come out, they do matter. They may not matter to your family, but they matter to me. Anyone who has read your blog would appreciate the deep sorrow their deaths left, and that alone is reason enough to say that they mattered. They were wanted, you fought for them, then for her. With that, how could they not matter? I have more of far less coherent mush, so I think I will stop here...

stat763 said...

Thank you for your beautiful words.

Cindy said...

Thank you for lighting the candles...that really touched me.

The Town Criers said...

I often think about this very thought in terms of Judaism and the importance of remembering. I think I spend so much time figuratively sitting with people as they remember (and therefore, thinking about it with them) because this idea of remembering (and the importance of remembering) is drilled into your head at such an early age. I think it is the same thing that drives me to get our grandmothers to talk about their husbands, be with them in remembrance.

Ange said...

You are so beautiful Julia and write like an absolute pro. My husband is reluctant to read much...but I want to share this one. Thankyou for sharing. I sooo soo get you.

ms. G said...

This was beautiful, Julia. And so true. IRL, it is so hard to keep our babies memories, and here, it is the place we get to talk freely and no one gets the "uncomfortable" response.

Mrs. Spit said...

Thank you - for posting so beautifully about the need to remember, not just your children, but all of the children who should be with us, and aren't.

We stopped at a Catholic church in San Francisco, and we light candles for all of the babies we knew of. There's something powerful about lighting candles.

Mr. Spit and I appreciate that we aren't the only ones that remember Gabriel.

wannabe mom said...

it gives me comfort to know that all of our children are connected b/c of blogland, that they are playing together and wishing all of us mommies (and daddies) love and peace.

it's a safe place to be normal and remember ours and each others' babies.

Coggy said...

Thank you Julia.
I struggle so much with the fact that no one but Scott and I knew Jacob and got to meet him. I feel like I constantly have to fight to have him recognized.
I often repeat in my head the names of us out here and our babies out here. The are a part of me now too. I love the idea that we keep this candle burning for all our children.
Again thank you x