I will be reviving my blog for the next few weeks as I experience a photography course designed for bereaved parents to use photography to work through their grief. It is called "Illuminate" and is facilitated by Beryl Ayn Young. Thanks for stopping by.
Week One: Telling my story through self-portraiture and a letter to my babies
Dear Alex, Amelia, David, Elizabeth, Gabe, Madeline, and Rebecca
I miss you. I had too little time with each of you, and I tried hard to appreciate every moment we had together. It would never be enough. I learned so much from each of you. You were unique individuals who brought different things to me, and I was a different person with each of you. Alex, you made me a mother. All of you deepened my experience of motherhood and the connection to that part of myself. Even though I wasn't considered by the word to be a mother because I had no child to prove it and live it, I was your mother from the moment you were conceived.
So, how am I doing?
I'm enjoying mothering your brother, Tyler. He is bright, curious, generous, and sweet. He asked me to give him a baby brother recently on a beautiful day at our neighborhood park. It was so unexpected, I was stunned silent. I saw a large bee fly by and knowing how nervous he gets around bees, thought he would forget asking. No luck; he asked again. I told him that I was sorry, that I tried, that I wish I could. He pressed for more. I told him his dad and I were done having children. He wasn't satisfied with that answer, but I had to let it go. I had to go. I wanted to go. I wanted to escape. I thought we were past this, that asking for a sibling was a phase all kids go through and that at age 7, we had managed to avoid it. A few days later, he asked me again. He said there were babies in the world who needed parents and couldn't we buy one of them. (He's seven - how does he know that?) I decided the moment I had been waiting for was here. I told him he does having siblings; they just aren't here with us like we want them. He wanted to know why. I told him some of you were sick and some of you died for reasons we'll never know. I told him I tried very hard to give him a baby brother. And, that I was sorry.
This is a hat I knit for a baby boy. The brother Tyler wants will never wear this.
Tyler took the picture.
I have emotions, thoughts, revelations, all coming from my experience of mothering all of you, and I have nowhere to put them. I feel I need to move on, to be over this, to be done, to not need to talk about it, to put it in a box and put it away.
You know this box. This is the box I kept your mementos in - ultrasounds, a candle, an angel from a friend, special cards from your life. Your belongings are now in a scrapbook, which will eventually also hold letters I've written to each of you. This box is empty, to show that I have pieces of my soul I want to put somewhere. But, it's empty.
I want to put this experience of grief behind me and to start a new phase of my life. I'm nine years out from losing Alex and two years out from losing Rebecca. When am I going to be done?
When am I going to put all this grief behind me and move on to live the life I have? To appreciate what I have and not think about what I don't?
When am I going to stop trying to incorporate you into my life (and then feel frustrated and guilty when I can't find the right way)?
When am I going to stop hating this place because it's where the nightmare of losing you happened?
When am I going to stop crying at songs with lyrics that make me think of you?
When am I going to stop feeling the hole in my heart were a daughter was supposed to go?
When am I going to stop feeling "I want what you have," when I see a pregnant woman?
When am I going to stop resenting families who have one boy and one girl?
When am I going to stop trying to get others to understand?
These are the questions in my mind.
The answer is my heart is....never.
I'm never going to stop trying to incorporate you into my life.
I'm never going to stop resenting this place.
I'm never going to stop crying at song lyrics.
I'm never going to fill the hole in my heart.
I'm never going to stop feeling envy when I see a pregnant woman.
I'm never going to stop wanting what I tried for years to create.
I'm never going to stop trying to get others to understand.
I will never stop missing you. I will never stop loving you. I will never again be the person I was before each of you came into my life. I'm so grateful for that. I'm grateful for you.
I love you.
3 weeks ago