To My Children; Forever

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I have often thought about what I would say to you if I could leave you my words.
I spend so much time documenting life for you these days, documenting for us.
Snapshots and thoughts, sentences weaved together with my love, a physical accounting of our history in the making.
I describe and caption; I write our story for sure.
But what do I want to TELL you?  

I am not sure what trials you will face in life though I can guarantee there will be many.
It is my hope that your roads are blessed ones, that your loads are light, that you are wrapped up tight in love and joy, bound together solidly with a deep, enduring resilience.
It is my sincerest prayer that you will never need the words that I am about to write for you, but should you ever find yourselves in fact in that need, I want you to have them.

Losing a child is the hardest thing I've ever gone through in my life.
Surely, I have faced many obstacles, we all do, but this one proved to be a challenge of epic proportions for my heart and soul.
I lost Rhemmy during my 10th week of pregnancy and, as you all know, I delivered her alone in my bedroom, your father by my side, on a summer-like night in mid-September.
It was the holiest of experiences.
Sacred and devastatingly beautiful.
And it was all so normal and yet so wrong.  
Your father placed into my hands not the healthy, squalling bundle of life that we were so accustomed to but instead a perfect, silent, hauntingly still baby.
I left that experience forever changed---I am not the same wife, woman, or mother that I was before losing Rhemmy, and I honestly would not want to be.
Every child leaves a mark on you as a parent and as a person.
I carry Rhemmy's mark with me every day.

There is no manual for a grieving parent and believe me when I say, there is no way around this situation but through.
And God willing, this is not your road to walk.
But you are many, and chances are good that this type of loss will lay heavy upon the hearts of at least one of you.
Maybe a few.
So is what I want to say to you:

To my sons, my strong, capable, loving sons,
What a mystery so much of this can be for you men because you're deep in it yet also very much on the outside.
And that must be a really difficult place to be when dealing with the loss of a pregnancy as you are expected to be supportive and tough---you will likely shoulder the brunt of her grief right along with your own.
However, yours may not be as acknowledged.
It's important though that you remain connected, to your wife and to yourself.
To your own feelings.

I appreciated so much your father's love and attention during my time of hurt.
His tender affection.
He didn't try to fix it, he didn't rush me along in my feelings, he didn't grow exasperated by the eighth night in a row of my spontaneous heartbroken outbursts, the cries that ripped through our home like they ripped through my soul.  
He simply let me roam wild and reckless through all of my emotions.
He encouraged me to grieve.
The most intimate moment of my marriage wasn't at our wedding or at any of your births.  Those were magical moments for sure but when I found him sitting alone in the dark at your sister's grave crying because his own heart was broken, when the two of us clung to each other and sobbed long into the night, our tears mingling with the fresh dirt that laid upon our baby's tiny makeshift casket, that was it for me.
My advice to you is simple, boys.
Be there, share, experience, communicate.
The minutes in the days of your grief will provide you with an opportunity to let your love shine.
So, my sons, shine. 
For you, for her, for your baby.

And to my daughters, oh, my sweet, sweet girls,
You are center stage in this; you unfortunately do not get to take a supporting role.
If I could spare you just one thing in this world, I would pick this.
But I cannot and so the only thing I can give you are my words of love and support.
You will feel like you are drowning in a sea of sorrow and that there is no rescue.
There isn't.
Not until you are ready to start swimming.
Please understand that it is okay and valid to mourn a baby you never get to hold in your arms.
Behind every positive pregnancy test is a SOUL.
Don't you ever forget that.
And all souls are worthy of your love and your devotion---and your anguish too.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and I encourage you to take all the time you need and to feel all the feelings.
This is not a short, straight-forward journey.
It is two days forward and a million tears back.
It is full of potholed milestones---a due date and a miscarriage date.
A death date.
You will be fine and then you will be not.
You will swing fiercely between hope and sorrow, the kind of sorrow that crawls out of a dark cave and wraps it's arms around you, a sorrow that drags you back to its lair of devastation.
But hope springs eternal and I know you will fight to come back.

There isn't anything I can say that will make this process easier or better for you but I want to leave you with one piece of advice:  in every day, even in your absolute worst, there is something to be happy about.
Let that one thing in.
And the next day, let in two.
Every single damn hurting day, you find something that makes you smile, you remind yourself of the good that surrounds you because it is there, I promise you.
You will survive this.  
You will go on and live happily ever.
You will never be the same, and you will never forget.
But you weren't supposed to, my loves.
You were meant to be changed.

One more thing, if I may.
You will not hurt alone.  Those around you who love you and cherish you, they hurt for you too.  And they are struggling for their own words.
Be graceful with them, even if they say something that upsets you, even if they don't know what to say and so they say nothing.
It's okay.
Understand that those hearts are coming from the best of places and that more than anything, they want to make you feel better, and they are hoping to make even the smallest difference.
There will be others that get this for you, that walk your walk, that know your journey.
You have a tribe and a village out there waiting to guide you and support you.
You'll find your place to land, you'll find the voices that comfort, you'll get through this on your own but together.
And I will always be here.
Lean in, my loves.
Always remember that family, all the forms of it, is forever.

Angi Martin, The Village Journalist

Krystal DonovanComment