Entries in “Letters to Adrian” are posted in monthly batches on a one-year delay. Please check back on the first of the next month for the next set of letters.
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There was a time when I was pregnant that I was worried about Saki. She had been throwing up non-stop for a few days, and she seemed exhausted and unhappy. Your uncle Jackson* was visiting then. He wanted to drive to see your Aunt Alexis, but I was worried about leaving Saki alone. The vet hadn’t been able to find anything definitely wrong with her, but even after tests and injections of fluids, she didn’t seem like a very happy cat. I was worried. I thought I might lose her. I remember laying in bed with her after Jonathan had left for Alexis’ house. As sick as she felt, she still loved to cuddle. I held her and we watched TV and I started to cry. I know cats don’t live forever and she is already older and that one day I will have to say goodbye, but I wasn’t ready for it to be that day. I wasn’t ready to let her go. And then she got better. Maybe it was just a bug? Today, she is her happy healthy self again. I know that one day I will lose her, but for today, I hold her and love her, and cuddle with her and Amy Anne. They are my comfort. I reach for them in the morning when I wish I could reach for you.
I say I miss you but that doesn’t even cover it. Sometimes you feel like a dream. Sometimes it feels like I was never pregnant at all, that I just hit fast forward and life resumed unchanged. You are so far gone from me. I touch the things you never got to touch, looking for echoes of fingertips that never got to feel. You are at once so real and also an incomplete memory.
I went back to work this week. I was as ready as I’m never going to be. I put your pictures up on my wall. It’s scary. People may judge you, judge me. The old me would incite a confrontation, force an argument to make an angry statement. Today I just want to love. I share my vulnerabilities. I tell the truth–I tell people I’m not okay, that I miss you so much I need to see your face to remember you were real.
Life is coming back to me. I hate it, it makes me feel disloyal to you. I hate feeling my mind engage, hate losing my focus on everything about you. I’m scared I’m going to lose you all over again, scared I’m going to forget how your loss is burned so vividly into my mind. I think I could never forget you, but not that long ago, I thought I would never get out of bed. You’re still missing. I’m still empty, scared, heartbroken and missing you.
I miss you so much.
* Names have been changed to protect privacy.
I don’t sleep normally. I’m tired all day, but I have trouble at night. I often forget what day it is.
I’ve been watching movies from my childhood. I didn’t think of it before, but these are things I hope you would have enjoyed, silly things I loved. I could have easily named you Bastion.
I’m going on a trip with my sister tomorrow. I almost wish I wasn’t. I didn’t give myself enough time at home. It feels hollow to keep saying I miss you, but this is all I feel.
My heart hurts. I love you.
I thought my tears had gone away, but I was wrong. I went to California for a while. It was nice to see family. It helped.
I found it hard to cry there. I thought my tears had dried up, that I was done falling apart. I missed it. I missed you.
I’m home now, and it’s like you’re gone all over again. The tears rise up, they cover me. I am made of water. It rains.
I was shopping last night. I still think about buying you things. It’s like I forget that you’re gone, like part of me is living in a world where you’re still on your way. You are always on my mind.
I love you, little man. I always will.
I dreamt you had a sister. She was tiny, but rambunctious as I’d always believed you’d be. I watched her climb on a set of shelves. I don’t know why I thought it cute. She fell.
I never dream about you. I think about you constantly, but never dream. In this dream, I was heartbroken. She wasn’t even real, but she was so real to me.
I packed some of your things yesterday. It’s a little like saying goodbye. I will never be ready to lose you entirely. Or even a little bit. I can’t stand that you’re gone.
T/W: Thoughts of suicide.
People ask if I’m suicidal, but I don’t think anyone really wants to know the truth. I think about it every day. I look out the door of our cabin and think how easy it would be. I could just jump. It scares me. I don’t think I want to die, but neither do I want to live.
This cruise was a distraction. I am overwhelmed. I think about returning to my normal life and I still don’t care. I don’t want to be there. I don’t want to be anywhere.
Lillian* finally wrote to me. I understand she is scared. I understand she has new fears, things she never imagined, the way I never imagined losing you. Her silence still hurt. Everything hurts.
You’re gone. You grew in my belly and now you’re gone. I felt you kick and hiccup and stretch, and you’re still gone. I’ll never be ready for you to be gone.
They ask me if I’m suicidal. I think about it all the time.
* Names have been changed to protect privacy.
There are two versions of me. In one version I know I did everything I could. My worst regret is drinking half a can of Red Bull on those mornings I struggled to get out of bed. In that reality, I know it’s not my fault. I loved you more than life itself.
On other days, things are different. I was so stubborn. I held on because I wanted the perfect birth story. I ignored the protocols because my body should have been enough. I failed you. I let you die.
The first version would forgive me for not knowing you were dying inside of me, but the second says it was my job to know. It was my job to keep you safe.
Both versions live inside of me. Both versions hurt, and cry, and rage. I miss you so much. My arms ache.
I wrote letters to my son throughout my pregnancy. When he died, I continued to write. It had become a habit. I wonder sometimes if I write for him or for me. I think the answer is — yes.
Letters to Adrian are lightly edited for clarity and mechanics, and to protect privacy. They are otherwise presented exactly as written.
Trigger warning; please note: Some of the letters presented here discuss thoughts of suicide. I am not now actively suicidal, but there was a point in my grief where it was a very real possibility. I include these entries because they are an important part of the story. If you are feeling suicidal, I encourage you to please seek help. I did. I still do.