Thu 1 May 2008
three years ago.
it was three years ago today i left the hospital for the first time after nearly three weeks of bedrest. i’d been airlifted in during winter’s last April gasp, but in my hermetic isolation in ye olde Craftmatic, the ground had transformed into a mushy carpet, spongy with sprigs of green poking through it. i felt like Rip Van Winkle, utterly out of time.
we drove out of the city, to the old tower on its outskirts, the one i’d climbed as a child every time we visited. my legs were weak and i walked gingerly. i was not in pain, per se…just timid, afraid i would break. the tower was closed, too old, too dangerous to be left open for tourists any longer. i stood in front of it, staring, as if i looked long and hard enough i might catch a glimpse of a younger me, might disappear with her into a different time, any other time than this.
she did not materialize, that former self. and i realized, viscerally, that she never would again…that there was no going back. i had stepped off the side of my own flat earth.
i turned in the rain, then, and tested my footing on the slippery bank of overgrowth there that leads up and then down, eventually, to the harbour. i climbed a little, until i was alone on a low ridge, looking down through the brush on tiny sailboats, seabirds. and when i was sure i was far enough away that no one could hear me, i spoke into the wind, and spoke his name for the first time in the thirty-six hours since he’d died.
i had a son. his name was Finn.
it was only a whisper, spoken to raindrops. but i knew it might be a very long time before i had the courage to say those words aloud again, to risk exposing the gaping wound i had suddenly become, to risk being that crazy lady talking about her dead baby. i knew too that i needed, desperately, to mark him on the world, to tell someone of my joy and my pride in him, of my sorrow, to tell that he had been here.
my tears mixed with the rain and those eight words echoed.
it was only in the year and more after his death that those echoes found expression anywhere, for me. it was here, where i could speak without having to meet anyone’s eyes, that i began to be able to write my way through the grief and love and anger that had left me unmoored, cut off at the knees. here, for the first time, i could own the whole of my story, find a balance within it – be the mother of a dead child without only being the mother of a dead child. and here, for the first time, i found people like me, mothers mourning and keening and raging and weeping, mothers bearing witness to lives too short.
i wrote to Finn on his birthday, i am okay now. i didn’t add that this blog has had a great deal to do with that healing – not just as a space to speak, but also because you have heard me, have taken in my darkest bleatings and said in return, received, here, listening. you have offered love. and more, you have offered that love to a child you never met, a child whom only a couple of people ever got to meet, to touch. my child. i feared him being forgotten, erased; feared never being able to sing him into existence, somewhere. thank you for being my somewhere. you have given me grace i had not imagined existed.
blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
the first few paragraphs of this post have two homes, today.
i am celebrating…it is May, the end of cruel April. i am still pregnant. i am beginning to hope. but with the same words, i am also celebrating the start of a different kind of new beginning. six of us, all of us Medusas, deadbabymamas, are collaborating on a new blog called glow in the woods…what we hope will be a warm fire amidst the bleak cold of grief, a community for families struggling to get through infant loss, stillbirth, and sorrow. it would be in bad taste, i suppose, to call it our new baby…but it is May, people, and i am feeling more cocky and flippant than i have in a long time. ;) please click over, come see us, and if you know someone who might find some solace in our company, please send ’em our way, and our welcome. our doors are open.
…did i mention it was May? may it bring real spring, finally, and blessings to all.