Sunday, July 27, 2014

Requiem: A Song of Memory

Requiem: A Song of Memory*

Link to Brahm's and Mozart's Requiem

When I lost my baby, it was as though everything that was possible ended.  When my mother had died, I felt that my naïve thoughts about health were in the past.  It did not matter if you never abused your body, it didn’t matter how well you ate or how full your heart was of forgiveness, death could come for you and there would be no reason to it.  It just came.  And leaves a trail of heartbreak in its wake. 
Even so, when the busyness and expansion of pregnancy occurs, the complete immersion into existing for another, it never occurred to me that the person for which the pain of being split wider was happening would actually never appear. 
How to Have a Miscarriage
And what you have left is space--deep interior space filled with both parts real and unreal, of blood and sorrow. Of tissue and loss, of pain in rhythm with metallic air and grief. 

When I tell people I have lost a baby, there is usually pain and compassion in their glance.  Then, "Is it your first?"  “No,” I say, “I have three children.”   Then there is tightening, an actual vice like gripping in the very air and a coldness.  "Well, you should be grateful for the children you have then."  I nod and am ashamed.  How dare I expect more?  How dare I complain of loss when I have riches already? 

Miscarriage is a terribly insufficient word for what I have experienced.  It means, first, “corrupt or incompetent management; especially :  a failure in the administration of justice,” and second, “spontaneous expulsion of a human fetus before it is viable and especially between the 12th and 28th weeks of gestation.” 

When I became a mother, and for me it happened as
soon as the possibility appeared blue or pink as a line tearing through paper in its haste to be known, my instinctual duty is to protect from harm. And with each loss, I felt extraordinary failure.  And a shadow of deep fear.  Both were exacerbated by comments that ranged from the seemingly innocuous to the downright knife woundingly fierce. The voices are loud and they crowd around me, people who care for me and people who could care less and all those in between:

                                                                   “It was God’s will.”

"Why do you need to push
this at your age?"

                                                               "You have three                                                                           children, be grateful."

"You are too old, something in
your body has changed.  
Stop doing this."

                                                        "You have three healthy                                                           children, be happy."

"You are unbelievably selfish.  
Do you have any idea how 
many children are out there
waiting to be adopted?"

"Listen to your body, it     
       just cannot do it."

"You cannot have a healthy
baby at your age.  The chances
are a million to one."

                                                                       "Just be happy                                                                            with the family                                                                           you do have. A lot                                                                        of people don't                                                                              have that."

"Just stop already.  
So many people 
would kill for just one baby."

                                                                   "No one should                                                                             have more than 2                                                                         children.  The                                                                                 population is out of                                                                    control."

"Wow are you so desperate
for a girl that you'd just 
risk your life?"

"You need to pray more, and listen more and ask for forgiveness from God."

The last one was from a family member on my husband's side.  Most of these comments resonate in my head, but the last one implied that I didn't pray, that I don't listen and that it was something intrinsically wrong in my character that led to my child's death.  And that, my friends, could not be further from anything that I know or am.

Maybe some of the comments that swirl around my saddened brain are meant to be kind, concerned for my health rather than aiming at my intention.  I
don't know.  What I do know is that somewhere in the space between of not being and having lies an emptiness so vast and profound, I find that I am lost in it.  That space holds my grief and it is the space I enter to be silent and hold my loss, because in the eyes of the world, I have no right and no claim to sorrow.

My answers are simple:
I know I am older.
We are grateful beyond measure for the three children whose lives are ours to guide.
We feel our family isn't complete.
We aren't feeling called to adopt.
We have the resources and ability to raise another child.
We are not seeking extraordinary measures or taxing anyone’s resources including our own.

Has it been this way for you?  Maybe not about a child, but about something else?  A loss that splits you but cannot be shared because the tolerance in the eyes of the world for that grief is shortened considerably by circumstances that are not of your choosing?

If that has happened, and if no one else has told you.  I want to say, how sorry I am for your loss.  How sorry I am that you are hurting.  How I wish there
was something, anything I could do to offer you comfort.  To reassure you that there will be time to smile, just that there will be something in it that was never there before and will never be separate from it again.   To reassure you that your grief is your right.  And to remind you that you are indeed a good and kind and deserving person. 

Since it does not seem to be permissive to grieve a baby who did not exist past the window of the womb, and because I can, I’m writing a requiem of my loss for the world who may just not want to hear it: 

I want you to know that as soon as I thought of you, I wanted you.  I felt fortunate to carry you and to have you with me for whatever time we could share together.  I want you to know that I planned for you and sang to you and forced negative thoughts out of my head so that you would only know the good and not anything that was tainted with doubt.  I want you to know that despite all the evidence to the contrary, no matter what others may have said or thought, your parents prayed for you and wished only the best for you. 

I want you to know that when I felt the pain of losing you, when I saw the evidence all around me of your leaving me that I felt I needed to know all of it.  Because I would never be able to hold you in this life, I wanted to feel you leaving me for the next one.  I follow your development, and I always will.  That I know when we meet again, and because “God will manage better than that,” you will not be a stranger; you will still be my baby.   And that I think of you.  Every day.  Thanks for choosing me to be your mom, I’m so grateful for you.

I know that our family’s story does not end here; it will continue on and be well.  And I know that as I walk with your brothers, and hold their hands in mine, that I feel the shadow of your arms in theirs. 

That I still carry you, and that our adventures include you, because it wasn’t just my body that expanded to allow room for you to grow, my heart did as well.  And that stays just the same.  From now until we see each other again.  In love and justice, Mommy.

*For Dan, Aley and Lily, we’ll see you on the other side.  x

*Images above may be subject to copyright.  Original artists' names could not be found for attribution.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written.

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