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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I thought I would be sad today. I had to do a sad thing. But it was necessary. And I’m realizing today that for a while, I had forgotten who I was. I had forgotten my purpose. But it found me. I’m writing again. I’m feeling inspired. I’m excited to share your story.
I’m feeling excitement.
When I first started writing about you, I felt guilty to feel excitement. I felt guilty in that brief joy and how easily the words flew. The one bright spot in my life was in finding the right words to talk about how much I missed you. I miss you!
And I think I understand it now, at least partially. This missing has a meaning. It speaks to how I love you. How I will always love you.
So I write today. I write for your memory. I write for myself, the one left behind. I write for the person I was long before you. I write in her memory. I write for this time.
I thought I would be sad today. I am; more than I realized. I am sad, and I am lonely, and I love and I miss you. And. I’m feeling lots of “and.” I’m feeling more of the world. And it’s hard, and I’m still trying.
I saw a baby in a restaurant today. He was young, maybe about where you would be. I see you in him. I see you in everything.
I promised you I would be okay. I promised you, and I’m trying.
I love you.
I started writing to your sister. I don’t know if “she” is a girl, but she feels that way. She feels so real.
I see her when I close my eyes. I see her as a child and all grown up, and I think about the ways that I didn’t see you. When I dreamt of you, you were always an adult looking out of a child’s body. You always looked at me with eyes that just knew.
I don’t know what any of this means. I don’t know that it needs to have meaning. I just wanted to say that I’m thinking about you. And I love you. I wish there were a stronger word than love.
Think of something people do everyday. Crossing the street, for example. On the surface, fairly mundane. Some small danger (make sure you look both ways) but generally not any cause for concern.
Now imagine one day you were crossing the street, and you were hit by a bus. No warning, no notice; you were completely unprepared. This is obviously something that’s possible, but not the kind of thing that happens everyday. Not to most people. But now that it’s happened to you, you are wary. You are no longer able to cross the street without fear. Other people do it, and you can see that it’s safe, but for you, you are always going to hold on to that memory. And no matter how much time, and how much therapy, you’re always going to be a little bit afraid. You’re always going to be a bit more aware that something like that can happen to you; to your friend; to anyone in the world at any time, on any random Thursday morning.
Now imagine there’s something you want on the other side of that street, something priceless and beautiful that will bring you much Joy. This thing is unique, created just for you, and it exists only for a limited time.
The first time you tried to cross the street, you were on your way to that Joy. You had anticipated it, gotten your home and family all prepared. But then you got hit by the bus, and it disappeared. That particular piece of Joy is now gone; it will never be available again. And some people, who may not understand, will tell you that Joy is always there, and you just have to cross the street again. But you know better. The Joy you lost is irreplaceable.
And someday, you may try to cross that street again anyway. You aren’t looking for a replacement Joy, but you are ready for an additional Joy to accompany the Pain. And as you take the first steps into that street again, you realize you are terrified. And you are surrounded, again, by people who don’t understand. People who step so blindly around the crosswalk, as if buses never existed.
But you know better. You know the importance of the lines of the crosswalk and staying inside. You know about looking both ways, not just once, but throughout the journey. You know about paying attention when cars honk, or the lights change. You know that buses frequently come up out of nowhere and take us all by surprise.
And some people, even those who know, still don’t understand why you have so much trouble with this journey. “It was a one-time thing,” they say. “The traffic conductor will protect us.” But you see the traffic conductor; you watch him ignoring important signs, and you remember the first time you tried to cross the street, and he told you, “Don’t worry–everything is fine.” And you see him now as he tells other people that buses don’t exist, but you know better. And you know you can’t cross the street based on a lie.
So you take this journey, eyes wide open, and you accept that it is terrifying. And you look both ways, and you take all the precautions, and you maybe trust, but if so, you also verify. And you keep your eye on Joy, and it feels like both the longest and also the shortest journey of your life, and it feels like you alone know that none of it is guaranteed.
This is what it’s like to think of pregnancy after loss. This is what it’s like to hold your child inside, and wonder if this will be the day that he or she will die. It’s a nightmare. It’s terrifying. And if you want living children, it’s part of your life.
Miranda’s Blog: 1 January 2019
Miranda’s Blog: Why Getting Pregnant Easily Isn’t a Gift
Miranda’s Blog: 13 June 2019 (needs to be posted)
It used to be hard for me to get 8,000 steps. I remember one morning I woke up early, determined to reach my goal before doing anything else. About 6,000 steps in, my hip flexors were creaking. My lower back had hurt almost immediately.
It’s strange how we perceive change. Today, I can walk 20,000 steps with something like ease. It’s hard to remember the challenge. The change kind of snuck up on me.
Everything sneaks up on me.
I came to Hawaii to write. I needed to come just to be.
I love you.
There’s a house on my walk full of daisies. I told the gardener I didn’t realize that they grew in bushes. I would like bushes of white daisies in our backyard. I would like bushes of daisies everywhere.
I feel like I checked out this past week. I’ve never been very good at being sick. It’s so easy to go from excitement and participation to wondering, “Why am I here?”
And I realize I just said “excitement” above and I don’t know how I feel about that.
I’ve been doing so much work on your website. It’s the first thing to really give me purpose. And I come back to myself, sometimes, and I remember those moments when I struggled to do anything, when I wondered if I would ever really be alive. I miss those times. Grief felt simpler, then. More immediate.
I am a thinker. I am academic. I have often examined the symptoms of my grief. It still feels so weird to me. The simplest things now make me cry. I examine those tears under a microscope. I examine everything, all while I’m feeling it.
School is starting soon. I think that I can do this. I think this time has helped me. I still ache for you.
Maybe that’s the truth I didn’t understand. I thought it was disloyal to move on without you. I still do.
I love you.
I’ve been taking this course in writing about my grief. I let it take me away from writing to you. They say grief comes in waves, and today I am drowning.
It’s not right, none of this is fair. I miss you. I miss you, and words just don’t cover it. I miss you. I miss you. I miss you.
If grief were a gesture, it would be hands on my heart, one flat on the other like bad CPR. My heart is still beating, I don’t need this rescue. My soul needs it though. Every part of me needs you.
Sometimes, when I’m very still, I still feel you kicking.
I love you.
I love you.
I love you.
One of the women in my group has a theory–she believes that as we make connections and talk about our children, that they meet each other in Heaven and become friends.
I don’t know where you are right now. I write to you, and I write for me.
I write because I miss you. I write because I’m still having trouble accepting that this is my life now. I write because there are times in my days when I can’t do anything but write. On these days, I feel like I’m still pregnant, and this is me giving birth to your memory.
I think it would be so much easier if I believed as other people believed. It would be so much easier if I could close my eyes and know with certainty that you were listening when I said your name. It would be so nice. But it’s not real.
Your death has challenged so many of my beliefs. It was easy to know that there is no Truth when it was just me. It was easy to accept I was going to die and whatever happened would just happen that day. I never feared heaven or hell. I never cared if they were real. I don’t care what happens to me, but to think that you are gone so soon is so painful to me. And in this moment, it would be so much easier if I believed as other people believe. Easier, but not real.
I don’t know what exists in that great cosmic space. I don’t know what happens when our hearts cease to beat. I don’t know if you can hear me when I write or say your name, if you’ll ever hear any of my apologies. (I’m so sorry I didn’t save you.) I only know that I love you. And whatever happens, wherever you live now, that is the most important thing.
I love you. And if you’re playing somewhere with Jude and Shalomar and Daniel and too many other children to name, then please tell them that I love them too. You are all so very precious to me.
In my twenties, when I thought about having children, I assumed I would meet someone, get married, and life would move forward from there. Of course, life doesn’t always happen the way we plan. When I hadn’t found the “right” person by age 30, I realized I needed to make a choice — I could either keep looking for a partner and gamble on decreasing fertility and increasing odds of birth defects as I aged, or I could focus on what I decided was more important to me — having a child. I chose to become a Single Mother by Choice.I never thought being a single mother would be easy, but odds weighed, it was the right decision for me. Because I acknowledged the difficulty, and because I wanted to give my child the best possible future, I spent a few years getting ready. I paid off debt, bought a house, finished my Master’s Degree, and situated myself into a new position where I wasn’t working the crazy hours I used to. It took time, and there were a few hiccups, but everything mostly came together easily.
When I became pregnant, I was ecstatic. There was never a time I wasn’t wholly committed to and excited about my son. I bought his first onesie the day of my positive pregnancy test, and I started interviewing doulas at six weeks. I built my life around ensuring I was prepared to be his mom.
Our pregnancy wasn’t “easy,” but it was fairly textbook. I planned for a midwife-assisted natural birth, but continued seeing a more traditional hospital-based practice in case of emergency. I attended classes and read all the books. I thought I was prepared for everything.
On 29 June, 2017, during a routine medical appointment on the morning of my 41st week of pregnancy, I was informed my son had no heartbeat. I had experienced symptoms of preeclampsia, and he had been moving less than usual the previous week, but none of my providers had been concerned. Despite concurrent care, participation in a home nurse education program, and 50+ hours spent reading books and attending childbirth classes, I was blindsided. I had no idea that babies died.
I spent the next year of my life in a fog. Instead of monthly photos, blowout diapers, and breastfeeding, I dealt with milk donation, missed milestones, and grief-induced stupidity. Human interaction became incredibly difficult. Some people said insensitive and stupid things, and some disappeared entirely. When I went back to work after only 7 weeks, my greatest fear was divided between crying if someone asked about my son, and crying if they didn’t. And through it all, I continued to experience all the normal aspects of being postpartum. I was a mother without a living son.
One of the few things I am grateful for is that I wrote to my son throughout our pregnancy. I wrote to him in excitement; I wrote to him in love. And after he died, I kept writing. About three months after his death, I thought about sharing these letters in some public way. I was nervous, but I wondered if this might be a method to share important information with the world. Because it’s an important and misunderstood aspect of nature that babies die, and mothers grieve. And grief is both natural and real.
Nine months later; one year after the death of my son, I am launching this site. I am sharing this story with all of you.
Thank you for being here.
Death has never been my friend. The necessity of her existence is no more comfort than my own. I don’t hate her, but I look at her the way she looks at Disease. We are all harbingers. We all bring Pain.
I slip in sideways, just after Shock. Her job, at least, is sometimes good. It’s also shorter–she gets to flit away afterwards and dance with the thunderstorms.
My job is more complicated. I don’t dance; I sidle. I ooze in to fill the cracks. I soak up sun light with darkness. I choke away everything but Pain.
Nobody wants to face Grief. Nobody wants to understand Death. I have to create this environment because without darkness, my voice is too soft.
I stroke her cheek. I sing to her. Sometimes I bring Memory and we sing together. Memory is one of my favorite people, because inside her, everyone lives. But Memory’s best friend is Future, and Future does nothing for me.
When Memory has finished singing, and Future has released her dreams, Reality comes. And that’s when I’m most needed.
Who better to understand the emptiness? Who better to hold her through screams? Who better to wail with her keening? Who better; who better than me?
I won’t ever tell her she’s whining. I won’t say he’s in a “better place.” I won’t condemn her if she reaches for me in 10 years; I’ll be here. I will reach for her too.
And I tell her, “There won’t always be darkness. When my voice is familiar, some light will seep in. When my voice is familiar, you will make friends with Joy. She’s waiting for you. She’s best friends with Patience.”
And I tell her, “Come meet my twin sister. Though you already know her, she lives inside you. She lives in the Love that you hold for your child. And that’s where I met you, where I’ll always find you.”
And I want to say more that is comforting, but that isn’t my duty; it wouldn’t be real. I exist as her constant reminder of the unwanted power and permanence of Death. And if I had a choice, I would shield her from everything. I would shoulder her suffering, and soak up her tears. But that too is denied me. I can only hold her, sing duets with Memory, remind her of Pain. I can only live here, her constant companion, as long as she’ll let me, as long as she Loves.