Saturday, November 21, 2009


Sometimes I go hours without thinking about you. And at times, I would swear I'd gone an entire day without considering the fact that you are gone. I'm not sure how true that statement sense of time is so skewed since losing you. Days can seem like hours and hours like days, and there is no telling why that is, but it is, nonetheless.
You know, sweet angel, I feel like I dove pretty deep into grieving for you this summer. But I am beginning to understand that I was comparing my pain and loss to pain and loss I've experienced earlier in my life. And those other losses---well, the degree of loss is just not the same as this. And that is where I misjudged my progress. You see, I thought I had plumbed such immense depths...had ventured so far. But I haven't.
If I was walking down the street one day and someone shot a hole through me (let's just say through my abdomen), I would be able to measure the size of that hole. Doctors and forensic experts could tell me (in terms I wouldn't understand, most likely) the size of the hole--how it related to the size of the weapon and distance from which it was it was entirely dependent (in terms of size) upon multiple factors such as bullet caliber and body mass---angles and velocity and density and trajectory and other things that I obstinately ignored in science and math classes. And I would nod my head (and understand as much as I could), and I would go about the task of making sure that hole healed up properly.
But I'm not walking around with a bullet-sized hole in me. I am walking around with a you-sized hole in me. And I don't know any forensic expert or doctor or scientist who can measure the size of that hole...or really tell me how to make sure it heals properly. Because, truthfully, although part of living means enduring loss, the loss of you is something which defies analysis.
It is an injury which rejects attempts to fix or heal. It scoffs at description.
I could never measure your life. Your gravestone will show one date: May 2, 2009. That is the day you died. But that doesn't address the size of your life. I can't actually measure your life, because it entails more than the 280-something days you grew inside me. I lost your future...the infancy, the childhood, the adolescence, the youth, the growing independence, the maturing, and all of the stages that would've come after that...
And I lost my dreams for you.
Ironically, although I've lost my dreams for you, the Lord is giving you an eternity that is beyond my wildest dreams. And I am thankful that you rest happily in the arms of Jesus.
But, my sweet darling boy, I wanted to know you so badly. I wanted to hear your voice. I wanted to learn your smell . I wanted to memorize your face. I wanted to behold your sweet spirit. I wanted a million things that I'll never be able to articulate. Even my 'wants' refuse measurement.
And I'm so sorry I didn't give you the attention you deserved while you were with me. I know I'll always feel badly about that. I enjoyed you...loved you...longed for you, but I got caught up in the chaos and stresses and tensions of life, and I didn't truly appreciate the time we had together. Or maybe that's not true. Maybe that's the way I feel now...maybe that's the way this works. I don't really know.
I just want you to know that I wanted you. And I still want you. I look at my senior boys sometimes and think about the 18 year-old you'll never be. I think about the hearts you won't break. I think about the sports you won't play. I think about the friends you won't make. I think about the hugs you won't give me. I think about the future you won't plan. And after I think about all of these things you won't ever do, I realize that you're just fine without those things. But I know the world will ache with the loss of you, just as I do. It may be a quiet may be an ache that goes undetected by most. But I will know.

Friday, October 30, 2009

6 months...

i carry your heart with me by e.e. cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday, and you've been gone so long...

Child of my heart. Flesh of my flesh. It has been so long since I felt you. If only other people had felt you...had felt your strong kicks--your stretches and wiggles and flip-flops and hiccups. You were so full of life and I miss it every day. I've heard of phantom kicks...after a loss like this, some moms have times when they think they feel kicks or movement. I've never had that. You were so big and strong and busy...there is no mistaking---not even for a second--that you are gone. I saw a young mother holding her little boy at church last week. This baby is a little older than you would be right now. And he was clinging to his mommy with complete devotion....nestling close to her chest and holding her as tightly as he could. And I was so envious of that...because I know you were so strong--you would've been holding me that tightly. Maybe tighter. And I would feel so loved by you, little Will. So needed. And it feels selfish to admit that--that I am sad because I didn't get to feel loved and needed by you in that way.
Maybe I feel that way because I feel so pointless without you here sometimes. I have all of the instincts of a mom with a new baby...I want to be overwhelmed by the business of you--that's my job. But I'm so pitifully idle. No gear to tote. No schedule to follow and fret over. No baby messes to clean. No nursery to tidy. No diapers to take out. No cries to soothe. No you to coo over and discover and delight in.
And it's five minutes since you left me. And it's a million years, too.
I have to remind myself that you avoided the pain and difficulty of earthly life. That you live in perfect joy and happiness and that is all you'll ever know....
But I hope you remember that you lived in me for 9 special months. I hope you can understand that--because you are so very very special to me, my love. King David was so right...I will go to you, but you will not return to me. Some days I love that verse. And some days I hate it (the human part of me hates it quite often). Child of my heart. Flesh of my flesh. Please remember me.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I know He love me, but I still wonder why...

Oh, this cup.
This cup I have before me contains my boundless sorrow for my little lamb.
And you would think that would be plenty. I would think that would be enough to have to have to drain.
But this cup of pain...this cup of bitter blazing hurt has been sitting before me for a few years now. And I know He loves me...but I still wonder why...
Why so many years, Lord? Can't You let me see what You're going to do with all of that I don't have to trust quite so blindly? I will have faith in You regardless...I have to---there isn't any other way for me. I cannot get out of bed in the morning without You. I can't face work every day without You to fortify my nerves. I am wholly and utterly dependent on You. And I know, deep down in my soul, that You only give me things that are good for me. So this awful cup is going to be good for me, somehow. And I am too human...too blind to truly grasp that.
And though I know You have a petition is this: Father, please intervene. I know You can. Reach into our lives and heal this. I need You so badly, and I am begging You to take control and bring order to this chaos. We cannot fix this.

Psalm 130
Out of the depths
I have cried to You, O LORD.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications.
If You, LORD, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.
I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait,
And in His word do I hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than the watchmen for the morning;
Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the LORD;
For with the LORD there is lovingkindness,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
And He will redeem Israel
From all his iniquities.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

If it be Your will....

Thanks for reminding me of this song, J. I love you.

If It Be Your Will by Leonard Cohen

If it be Your will
That I speak no more
And my voice be still
As it was before

I will speak no more
I shall abide until
I am spoken for
If it be Your will

If it be Your will
That a voice be true
From this broken hill
I will sing to You

From this broken hill
All Your praises they shall ring
If it be Your will
To let me sing

From this broken hill
All Your praises they shall ring
If it be Your will
To let me sing
If it be Your will

If there is a choice
Let the rivers fill
Let the hills rejoice
Let Your mercy spill
On all these burning hearts in hell

If it be Your will
To make us well
And draw us near
And bind us tight
All Your children here
In their rags of light

In our rags of light
All dressed to kill
And end this night
If it be Your will
If it be Your will.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Cataloguing my loss...

I just got back from a wonderful trip to Disney with my sweetie pies: Nan and Shan.
And though this trip was a happy and fulfilling one, IT couldn't be avoided. By IT, I mean the running catalogue. This catalogue is an ever-growing list of things I will never do. Things I will never enjoy. Things which will never come to pass. This is because my running catalogue is centered around Will. He would be nearly 3 months old now. I would be thinking about his routine. I would be fascinated by his emerging little personality. I would be thinking about getting him ready to go to Miss Debbie's next week (dreading it, most likely) as I prepared to go back to work. And I would be caught up in him, just like I am right now. Although my mind is constantly peppered with these thoughts...these missed moments...these withered hopes, I know I will never get them. I will never know what color his eyes were....I would be guessing about that right now if he were here. I will never hear his voice...never hear him coo or cry or laugh. I will never spoon cereal into his little mouth or stare aghast at any of his particularly heinous diapers. I will never wear his spit-up as an accessory to a nice outfit or learn to decipher the meanings of his various different 'cries.' I will never feel pangs of guilt after leaving him with Mema or Nana for a night out with Shan.

I thought at first that embracing these thoughts would help me move through the grief process. I'd let each moment wash over me and that would be it. I could grieve that lost possibility and be done with it. And listen up, folks, because I don't say this often. As I've learned in the last few months (over and over and over again) I was WRONG. Yes. Susan Boone just admitted that she was wrong. Write it down. My inability to admit my fallability is an innate character flaw...but you love me anyway, right?

Letting each thought wash over me has lead to this....I hoard them. I hoard non-memories of my son. There: I've said it. I cradle them to me like a safety blanket. I would bathe in them if I could. Those of you who know me well know that I have a vivid imagination. And there are times when my imagination is a great has been a blessing to me in so many ways. But right now it is aiding me in my (now compulsive) pasttime of cataloguing my lost life. I can almost feel these non-existent moments. And there is a seemingly endless train of leads to another which leads to another, and on and on and on.

And I would be feeling guilty about this compulsion, really I would, if it were not for this: I think this particular compulsion is okay. That is the only conclusion I can reach. On earth or in heaven, he is my son. If he were here, he would be literally filling my days (and probably nights). He would be in my thoughts at virtually every moment of each day. And death came and took him away from me before I could enjoy all of these moments with him. But does that mean that I have to let go of 'what could've been' completely? I don't think so.

Because I'm not doing anything wrong. I'm living my love for my son (in an internal sort of way). My moments of reverie are simply manifestations of my heart. I still love him all of the time. I still want him all of the time. I still miss him all of the time. I still feel that motherly vigilance "thing" (that mothers have) for him all of the time. And allowing myself to feed on that love is branching out to other areas of my life. He is making me a better person. He has brought me closer to God...I need my Creator (in ways I never fathomed) right now, and Will is responsible for that. I burrow deep down into my faith when I hurt. I ask God to be with me in this all areas of my life. I am aware, after 3 months of this, that the only kind of consolation I am going to get will come from Christ. This consolation is not like a consolation prize (think: parting in The Price is Right). I mean it in the actual literal sense....the only One who can CONSOLE me is Christ. Others offer words of encouragement or help, but the only thing that even comes close to a sensation of healing and peace comes straight from God.

"Unless the LORD had given me help,

I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.

When I said, "My foot is slipping,"

your love, O LORD, supported me.

When anxiety was great within me,

your consolation brought joy to my soul."

Psalms 94:17-19

Which brings me back to my little man: I am a better Mom because of Will. I am enjoying Nancy Ann so much right now, and I know that the intense nature of my joy is due (in no small part) to little Will. I am going to be a better teacher because of pain in losing him is going to make me more compassionate and patient with my students--I don't know this from experience...I write it more as an invocation--a declaration of intent. The strength that I have gained through losing him is going to make me a better wife, a better friend, a better daughter, sister, niece, aunt, co-worker, etc. I am blessed by the loss of different ways than I would've been by virtue of simply living with him every day as his Mommy. But whatever follows this moment in my life will be touched by him...just as it would have been if he were here in my arms right now.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Pictures of Will

Til Kingdom Come (Will's Song)
Still my heart and hold my tongue
I feel my time My time has come
Let me inUnlock the door
I never felt this way before

And the wheels just keep on turning
The drummer begins to drum
I don’t know which way I’m going
I don’t know which way I’ve come

Hold my head inside your hands
I need someone who understands
I need someone, someone who hears
For you I’ve waited all these years

For you I’d wait 'til kingdom come
Until my day, my day is done
And say you'll come and set me free
Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me

In your tears and in your blood
In your fire and in your flood
I hear you laugh, I heard you sing
I wouldn’t change a single thing

And the wheels just keep on turning
The drummers begin to drum
I don’t know which way I’m going
I don’t know what I’ve become

For you I’d wait 'til kingdom come
Until my days, my days are done
And say you'll come and set me free
Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me
Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me
Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me

This was the song I selected to be played at Will's birth. I think it still works.
I just got these pictures of Will from the NILMDTS photographer today. I have more if you are interested in seeing them. The photog gave me the master disc, so (Brandi) you can have a copy if you like.
He was so beautiful. The pics were taken at about 10:30 am (he was born at 1:28 am), so he doesn't look quite the way he did when I held him and said goodbye to him. But he was beautiful, nonetheless.
And thank you to Elizabeth, who sat with Will during the photo session (that's her finger he has his hand wrapped around). She's an incredible aunt and sister. She arranged the whole NILMDTS session, and I am more grateful for that than I could ever find the words to express.
Love to you all.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Void

I've been reading A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis. This particular section caught my eye:
"If a mother is mourning not for what she has lost but what her dead child has lost, it is a comfort to believe that the child has not lost the end for which it was created. And it is a comfort to believe that she herself, in losing her chief or only natural happiness, has not lost a greater thing, that she may still hope to 'glorify God and enjoy Him forever.' A comfort to the God-aimed, eternal spirit within her. But not to her motherhood. The specifically maternal happiness must be written off. Never, in any place or time, will she have her son on her knee, or bathe him, or tell him a story, or plan for his future, or see her grandchild."
Ahhh, C.S.: what a great man. I find it amazing that he, who was obviously never a mother, and more pointedly, never a grieving mother...could teach me something about myself---about how I feel each and every day since losing Will. The fact that I have been robbed of that "maternal happiness" is precisely why each day has been so difficult. I trust that Will is at the feet of Jesus-that he is enjoying all of heaven's glories...I believe that God did not take my son...that we live in a fallen world where we collide painfully with death's hideousness, and that my loss is a result of such a collision. I know that, even if God didn't take my child from me, He can use THIS...this nightmare, this pain, this struggle--He can take and make it something beautiful and precious. But my joy has been ripped away from me--and even my faith cannot restore that loss. I will always feel this emptiness...from what I hear, it will become more manageable...less intense...not quite as excruciating. But it will be there. So...for now, I choose to focus on what I do have, what I haven't lost, what is still within my grasp. Because that emptiness--that loss, will invade my consciousness quite often enough on its own. It comes, unbeckoned, and it doesn't need to be simply arrives. But I can fill my remaining minutes each day with things that bridge the gap between pain and joy: the feel of Nan's hand on my back when she hugs me...Shannon's smile (now appearing more frequently--and I revel in it)...the comforting sing-song quality of my mother's 'phone-voice'...the familiar "bookish" smell of my current readings (still my favorite pasttime)...the warm consolation of Herschel sitting faithfully at my heels...these are the things I relish right now. And my ability to treasure these things--to embrace the goodness present in my life--is a gift in itself. The "void" I feel is surrounded on all sides by abundance and blessings. I am grateful.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"If any one faculty of our nature may be called more wonderful than the rest, I do think it is memory. There seems something more speakingly incomprehensible in the powers, the failures, the inequalities of memory, than in any other of our intelligences. The memory is sometimes so retentive, so serviceable, so obedient; at others, so bewildered and so weak; and at others again, so tyrannic, so beyond control! We are, to be sure, a miracle every way; but our powers of recollecting and of forgetting do seem peculiarly past finding out. "
Jane Austen from Mansfield Park

Anyone who knows me well knows how I love Ms. Austen. And her words (and the words of my other favorite writers) are providing comfort and inspiration quite regularly these days. This quote made me think about my memories of Will...of the moments that have remained vivid throughout the past weeks. I don't understand why my memory has latched onto some of them, yet completely dismissed others. So, in an attempt to reflect and find solace in these memories, I thought I would list some of them:
-The first tear that slid down the side of my face when I realized the monitor was not going to pick up a heartbeat from Will because there was no heartbeat anymore. I was lying on the examining table in triage (ironically, this was the same examination room I was in just 18 hours earlier...listening to his healthy hearbeat with the same fetal heart monitor). The two nurses were trying desperately to locate a heartbeat--moving the monitor all over my belly, but as the minutes passed by, I knew. Despite the presence of these two nurses, I was so alone. I knew that Shannon was going to walk into the examination room in mere seconds. And I knew that I would have to tell him his son was gone. And that tear felt so cold and so heavy. And if I close my eyes and focus, I can feel it trace its path all over again. That tear was only the first of thousands, but it matters the most to me because it marked the precise moment when the hopes I had been storing up for 9 months abandoned me, and my life changed forever.
-My daddy's hand. I remember lying in the hospital bed after being induced. There was a chair next to my bed, and I asked someone to bring Daddy in to sit with me. It took him a moment to arrive at my bedside, but before he sat down, he gently grabbed my hand and kissed my forehead. And my father, who always has so much to say, could only say one thing: "I wish I could take this from you." And nothing that anyone has ever said to me has been more true or more loving. I know that, despite his age and the condition of his body, he would have taken my pain away and carried it all for me if it was possible. I held his hand...the hand I have held so many many times during my 31 years, and although it is older and more fragile than it was when I was a child, I felt five years old again because there is strength and wisdom in that hand. And that same hand, in its strength and wisdom, has comforted me through every scraped knee, and disappointment, and sorrow of my life.
-Will's cap. After I delivered him, the nurses gave him his first and only bath. They dressed him in the clothes we brought to the hospital--the clothes he was supposed to wear when we took him home with us. They wrapped him in a blanket and gave him to me (I think Shannon may have held him first). I won't go into all of the details of his appearance, but he was stunning: absolutely beautiful. At some point, I gave him back to Shannon so that he could wheel the bassinet next door--we let our loved ones look at him and hold him and say their good-byes. I asked to see him again, and when Shannon handed him to me, he had a blue and cream knitted cap on his head (which hid the head full of dark hair that proved he was MY son, indeed). This was the last time I held him. I rocked him and soaked his face with my tears. I kissed his nose and his mouth and caressed his back. And I rubbed my lips back and forth across that little knitted cap, while I whispered my last words to him. I called him all of the pet names I already had for him: baby boy, little lamb, my angel, my son, baby Will, my sweet boy. I told him I was sorry. And as I whispered these words to my son, my lips continued to brush the knitted cap until they were chapped and raw. And when I am alone sometimes, I conjure up that sensation--the feeling of his little cap against my burning lips, and I am with him again...tracing his spine with my hand...inspecting his perfectly formed fingernails....noting with amazement his flawless complexion...taking a desperate, fleeting inventory of the little person I had waited so long to meet.
-The tree outside my window. When I woke up (after 3 or 4 hours of sleep) the next morning, Shannon was sleeping on the padded bench across the hospital room. Above him, I saw light through the window--a tell-tale sign that the sun had risen and my first day without my son had begun. Outside the window, a tree was waving in the wind. The quivering of the leaves and bending of the branches held my attention for at least ten minutes, and I couldn't figure out why. And then it hit me: I was awake because I was accustomed to being woken up by a squirmy Will in my belly that same time each morning. But my belly was empty. My belly was numb...thanks to a hangover from the epidural. But that tree, in its constant motion, reminded me of daily wake-up call--and I missed him, truly missed him for the first time.

Sonnet 30
by William Shakespeare
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long since cancelled woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanished sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restor'd and sorrows end.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

My first attempt

I am attempting this blog thing for the first time. Not really sure how to proceed...I have been inspired by the writings of my new comrades-in-arms: Samantha and Molly. Both are grieving mothers, just like me. Both lost their sweet babies to stillbirth, just like me. But unlike me, they have both been blogging for quite some time. They write so effortlessly. Me...not so much. Despite being an English teacher, I find writing about myself to be difficult. But Susan, you say...surely you can write---you teach writing to your students nearly every day. Not that easy, folks. I can write, sure--plays, screenplays, literary analysis essays, research projects, etc. But I've never been good with journaling...not so good at turning the writer's eye inward.

But my lack of blogging prowess notwithstanding, I feel the need to get IT out. A month has gone by since losing Will. Concerned visitors tapered off at least two weeks ago. Daily check-in phone calls are dwindling. And I'm okay with that. It's just that life is moving on...despite the fact that I am stuck. My heart is with my little Will, but my Will is gone and my arms are empty. Doing normal things like paying bills and grocery shopping and cleaning the house are overwhelming right now. Grief is the only thing at which I currently excel. It is my constant companion:
"Grief fills the room up of my absent child,Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me . . . " William Shakespeare from King John

For now, I'm done. This will have to do for my first foray into the blogging universe.