The week of busy, of rushing, of go-go-go, is finally coming to an end. I think we just planned an entire wedding in the span of one week. My future sister-in-law has bought a dress and shoes and all of the sparkly wedding bits that will decorate her on the day she marries my brother. We've made guest lists and to-do lists and to-buy lists. I've made a master list of the lists. It's over and I finally have Mac all to myself again. In this week of wedding planning extravaganza my major contribution to the upbringing of my son has been to pull my boob from my shirt when needed. Instead of spending his days in my arms, as he usually does, he has been passed from grandmother, to aunt, to friend, to random sales lady, and back again. And when I finally get a moment to myself to wind down I realize that my arms have ached for him. So I pull his warm little body next to mine and curl myself around him as I try to quiet my mind in preparation for sleep. But for some reason I can't turn my thoughts off. I think of all the parents who have lost their children and I wonder if they feel an ache in their arms. At first I try to chase those thoughts away. But then I force myself to give them my full attention. I can't complain about imagining that loss. So many parents are living it.
April 16th 2012 - 7:00 AM
It's Monday which means blog time. I'm exhausted from the week of wedding planning and all I really want to do is hold my baby. But that's why I called this blog Mondays with Mac. I knew that by giving myself a hard deadline each week I'd be forced not to let procrastination, that old temptress, take over. So with the baby happily tucked into the carrier against my chest I sit down at the computer to write. I'm still thinking about the strange ache I felt in my arms last week. "Mama arms"- I coin the term and realize that I have a topic for my blog. I write about the busy week and how I missed my baby. And then I write about all of the parents who have lost their children. I write about my wife's friend who lost twin sons, and my grandmother who lost two adult children, and the bloggers I follow who write about the loss of their children, and my heart breaks for them. I sit at my computer and I cry. I ache for all of the parents with aching Mama (and Papa) arms. And I finish the post by writing "You are in my thoughts today."
April 16th 2012 - 12:00 PM
The green light flashes on my phone and I turn it on to read the single worst text I have ever received. My friend, who has just amazingly grown two perfect babies in her womb for the last eight months, has lost one of her children. Her pregnancy has been pretty normal, in the world of twin pregnancies at least, and this is a devastating shock. No heartbeat. No signs of life. Alive two days ago. Gone today. My heart drops into my stomach and then leaves me entirely. It is flying across the country, landing in a hospital room in Nova Scotia, sitting next to Katie's bed.
I sob. Hard ugly cries. Her words make her seem brave and strong. She's in shock most likely. And since her son is still living in her womb I imagine that her body is not yet letting her feel the full impact of the trauma.
Never one to be short on words I struggle to find the right ones. I'm sorry seems too miniscule. I'm sorry my grocery cart bumped into yours, I'm sorry I forgot your birthday, I'm sorry I'm late for our appointment... but I'm sorry your child has died? No that doesn't sound right. But there really aren't any words that matter. I know she doesn't give fuck about my words right now. And I can swear because I know she would. She's probably so fucking sick of hearing I'm sorry. There are no words that will help. No words that will comfort. So I write some anyway, knowing they are useless, but necessary nonetheless.
April 10th, 2013
It's a cold spring. I don't know if the groundhog saw his shadow or not. I don't much care. But I'm cold. Which allows me to believe that it's still winter and not yet spring. Can it really be April already? Has it really been a year since Caroline died? It seems impossible. And yet I look at the photos of her brother and there he is - happy smiles and big toddler teeth. Somehow a year has indeed passed.
She doesn't feel strong, my friend, I know this much. And she's sick of people telling her that she is. It's not strength that keeps her going. She's angry and sad and a million other emotions I can't comprehend. But she's still breathing and there's strength in that. She's made it through the first year of parenthood and the smiles on her son's face are proof of how much she has rocked it. She's also muddled through the no man's land of bereaved parent and new mom. It's hard to find a place to be between the grieving parents envious of her healthy son and the rest of the new moms who exchange birth stories like baseball cards.
As the date approaches we talk a lot about Caroline. Even though I know it's the wrong thing to do I'm always cautious to mention her name. What if in that one single moment she wasn't thinking about her terrible loss and I just reminded her? I tell her about the blog I posted last year just hours before hearing of Caroline's death. And then I backtrack. I tell her not to read it because it will just make her feel worse. And then she tells me what I already knew but somehow couldn't really accept. "It doesn't make me feel worse," she says. "There's no such thing. People always worry about reminding me, or opening up wounds. Please don't ever worry about that. My wounds are always open, not a second goes by that I don't think about her."
Her words hit me over the head like a hammer and I feel bad for all of the times I didn't say her name. All of the times that I saw a butterfly, thought of Caroline, and didn't tell her. This time I heard her. Really heard her.
April 15th, 2013
It has been one year since Caroline died. One year without her precious soul on this earth. And today I will say her name on repeat. I will tell Mac about her. I will say a prayer for her. I will say a prayer for her parents and her brother. I will morn her. I will love her. And I will remember her. Always.