Wed 15 Oct 2008
October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day in the US. i don’t think the day has any official status here in Canada, and this year we’re too busy reeling from a ‘more things change the more they stay the same’ election up in these parts to see much in the news about it, even if our government were on board. but the Wave of Light that marks the day is an international affair. at seven pm tonight, across every time zone around the world, people are invited to light candles in honour of little ones loved, missed, remembered.
the candle i light for Finn will be propped in a kitschy Hallowe’en pumpkin candle, because Hallowe’en floats Oscar’s boat these days. it’s in questionable taste, perhaps…but that’s what you get for being born into this family, i figure. if Finn were here, we’d be planning his costume this time of year, and he and his younger brother might be torturing each other deliciously with scary talk of ghosts. instead, our ghosts are all too real and yet all too absent. and with the candle, i am trying to say you’re a part of us, son, wherever you are, whatever you’ve crossed over to. you are loved, always. you are not forgotten. there is nothing else left for me to say, any longer.
i don’t write much about Finn these days. i have reached a place where i am no longer blown apart, where the scars have closed over and left me once more whole, if tempered; rent and healed and beyond the fire now. i do not grieve like i did…do not rail and wail and gnash my teeth at the universe, do not ache with a hurt too big. i am no longer the subject of that crushing blow of loss. i’m shamed by the selfishness of the implication that i ever was…because it was him who was the subject of his own death, after all, but i grieved for my self just as much as i grieved for him.
it is harder, sometimes, to reconcile with life, with living, than it is with death.
it was hardest for me to reconcile with the silence that came after his death, with the unspeakable awkwardness of the world with the fact of that death. my childless motherhood was the darkest place i have ever been.
i am not there, and so i do not write of it. partly because the need doesn’t spring raw and desperate from me anymore…and i am wary to disturb the peace. but i wonder, too, if it is unseemly to keep revisiting the subject…if it tires people to hear of a dead baby when i have two lovely living ones. i fear judgement and others’ sense of decorum just as i fear betraying the memory of a child who has only me and his father, really, to remember him at all. the fact of his death still sits awkwardly with the world, i know…i am reminded each time i broach it and am met with an urgent subject change, with others’ discomfort. it does not hurt me anymore…but it is sad. and it silences.
this afternoon, holding Josephine close at the end of a mommy-baby yoga class, October light slanting in on the hardwood floor, i breathed in the traces of newborn scent that still linger in her hair and thought of him. firstborn. the first newborn head i ever nuzzled like that, only gingerly, extra-tenderly. for months after i kept his tiny hat from the NICU and i buried my face in it and drank in the faint traces of him. it was proof that he’d been here. and yet it was a secret act. i did not want to be the crazy lady with the dead baby.
what Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day and the Wave of Light does is allow me to bring Finn – and my love for him, all that broken, bittersweet love – out of that darkness and silence, that private closet of sorrow. it legitimizes the breach of decorum, takes the onus off the individual, points out that this kind of loss is not so isolated and unusual as our happy-ending culture would like to believe.
with a Hallowe’en candle it includes him, holds him in the light.
as do we.