I call it a nuclear bomb. It’s a conversation ender. You meet someone, you’re making good small talk, and then they ask about your family. I will never deny my son. He is a permanent part of me. And so it happens — I tell them, “Yes, I have a child. He died shortly before he was born.” And everything stops. It’s no longer a casual conversation.
I’ve often said that those of us who have experienced tragedy live in a new layer of existence. It’s the thing that defines us now, that marks this transition to this separate world. And I almost said “different” there instead of “separate,” but this is another defining characteristic; because the only thing that is different is each of us. Because we are a world inside of a world, and we are the only ones who know.
I hate talking about these memories, because everyone is quick to tell me that it wasn’t my fault. Screw that! I don’t care about fault. I want to share my story. I want to remember the last week of my son’s life. I want to share these things that complicate how I feel about his death. I want to remember that this experience wasn’t entirely sunshine and roses. I want to remember what was real.
You sheltered him for nine months. You expanded with him, kept him safe. I watched you grow stretch marks, tiger stripes. I talked to him through you. I never thought to say thank you. Thank you. Thank you for holding my son, for cradling him even in death. He only ever knew love in you.
I wrote a letter to Target a while back. I still find myself walking through the baby aisles, thinking about things I would be buying. Should be buying. I should have a living son.
I know what you want to talk about. I know how it pains you when others try to chase your words away. It isn’t a question of guilt. It’s fact — if you had chosen to listen, I would be alive.
I found the snow again today. I found flight, and I’m spinning, and it all came back so easily. And I watch as the children go flying down the mountain, and everything feels empty.
I feel unusual in the way that I’ve been counting. I’ve never kept elaborate timelines. My cousin’s wife reminded me when 30 days had passed. I was visiting, and her words took the breath out of me. It always feels like yesterday.
I remember every moment of my pregnancy. I remember every moment of my son’s short life. I remember conception and ultrasounds and morning sickness. I remember every tiny kick and movement. I treasure these things. I treasure these memories.
I want to wish you happiness, but I don’t know if you want that. I didn’t want happiness after the death of my son. It felt disloyal.
There was a time when I was broken. (I’m still broken). There was a time when I struggled to get out of bed. (I still struggle to get out of bed). There was a time when all of this was so much harder / more immediate. There was a time when I needed help with almost everything. But not all things. I still remembered how to eat and go to the bathroom. I still knew how to put on my own clothes.
I write a lot about this concept of numbness. I think that before, I would have described it as a lack of feeling. “I am empty, I am numb.” I realize today it’s something quite different.
Because I think love includes talking about hard things. Because I think love includes telling someone, “When you fall on hard times, I am here for you. When things go terribly wrong, I won’t run away.”
You asked me to this party, but you don’t want my casserole. It’s too heavy; it’s filling. It doesn’t fit your theme.
Nobody tells you that stillbirth is a possibility. I still remember, even while screaming, that I was thinking about the three other women in that testing room, and how I must have been their shocking introduction to the fact that babies die.
Sometimes I need comfort, and I lash out instead. I am not your typical victim. I am so very angry.
So many people run away from my questions, but I still have questions, I deserve more than this.
This instinct for planning is painful to me. The best parts of my future are still achingly incomplete. I didn’t find him here because I carried him with me. I carry him and the world and the world is so heavy.
Your donor has brown eyes. So do I. I still wonder if yours would have been green or violet or newborn baby blue. I still wonder if I should have waited just one more moment longer–surely you were only sleeping?
I don’t find comfort in the thought of a higher power. It doesn’t do anything for me. But I do find comfort in the fact that other people have also been broken…and they survived it. Which brings me to Akhilandeshvari, goddess of never not being broken.
I am probably one of those ghosting stories that people complain about on social media. I am probably that person who just disappeared, and people are wondering, “What happened? What did I do wrong?”
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 peeked under a bit. I wanted that smell. I wanted something stronger than the silence at his birth.
In the black-and-white photos, he looks like he’s sleeping. Photos are difficult; they don’t tell the whole story.
The choice inside suicide—Before my son died I thought suicide was cowardly, escapist. I now realize there is so much more inside this conversation. Choosing to live after my son’s death is one of the hardest choices I’ve ever had to make.
She was probably the most innocent person in the room. And that’s funny, I guess, because she was so incredibly book smart.
I used to think that grief was this sad time that followed the death of someone you loved. I never imagined it was really this new layer, this new identity. I never imagined the loss I was grieving would include the loss and rebirth of me.