Friday, October 01, 2010

ten years later

Dear Neighbor,

I want to tell you everything gets better, that it will be okay or easier.

But I can't. Not this week.

Some things do get better, but not all, and that's okay. In fact, that's how it should be.

I remember being where you are right now and thinking, "How long do I have to feel this way? Ten years?" It's now ten years later for me, so today I'm going to share a few things which stand out.

Like I told you (like my doctor told me): no one knows what to say to you. A friend asked me the other day what she should say to you, and my answer was, "Just be honest. Let her know you love her. I can certainly tell you what NOT to say." And my mind wandered to all the awful things I heard during my most vulnerable hours. "It's for the best." "It was meant to be." "At least you didn't bond with him." Give me a damn break. At least I didn't bond with him? Just a few years ago I had a conversation with a woman in our ward who looked right in my eyes and said to me, "I don't care who you are, you haven't bonded with your baby until it's born and in your arms, crying and cooing." It stung. I quickly ended that conversation and was reminded again to protect my son from people's ignorant ideas.

Almost a year after Taylor was born still, I had a baby girl. To this day, I cry remembering the nights when she was a newborn and I'd get out of bed, still half-asleep, looking for The Baby. Darin would find me wandering the apartment, in a panic: "I can't find the baby!" He'd take me by the arm and lead me to the girls' room: "She's right here. Look, both girls are asleep." I'd yank my arm free and snap, "I know the girls are here, I can't find the baby!" And then I'd fully wake up, and remember. And I'd crumble to the floor, helpless. When that's your reality, who wants to be awake? And when it haunts even your dreams, who wants to go to sleep? And when it lasts over a year and through a whole other pregnancy and delivery, who wants to think or be at all?

Even my body was in disbelief, with my milk coming in and no baby to take it; with my arms physically aching because my body knew there was supposed to be a baby there.

You have the rest of your life to make the snap decision of what to say when people ask you, "How many kids do you have?" Do you include your son? You want to, of course, because he is: He is your son, and he is yours, and sadly (and this is something only those in This Crappy Club can understand fully) the only way left to honor him, his memory, is by talking about him, by including him. You will likely have moments where you realize that by bringing him up you are changing the entire tone of the conversation, to the point that others think you're A Downer all the time. But you may not care because, again: How else can we include our sons who aren't here? Talking is all we have.

But you also may find that the only children you mention when asked about how many children you've got are the ones with you on earth right now, and that's because you'll feel protective of your son's identity, of his existence. You'll make a quick judgment of whether or not the person with whom you're talking is worth bringing up your son to because you can't bear the thought of someone who, in not knowing how to react, will brush off the notion that your son 'counts' as one of your kids. You reverence your son this way, and find comfort in keeping this family matter private. It's a way to protect your boy. (This does become easier over the years -- it has for me.)

Your years, your days, will start to look - to feel, to be - brighter. Really. But there will always be Those Days. You'll see the kids who are Luke's age, and it will hurt. His due date in December (Taylor was also due in December). And that crazy, complicated autumn date -- his birthday, which is also his death day (or something like that). The day you delivered, and spent time with, his body. Those are hard days, difficult seasons.

I want to tell you, though, Friend: there is reason to hope. There is hope and good in the world. Your other children will have a special knowledge - knowledge - of eternal families. They will not fear the idea of death of loved ones, but know that we can be, and are, close to those who have gone on before us. I also don't want to say too much on this point right now, because I know it might not be what you want to hear. When I was where you are, I was angry. A N G R Y. And that anger is real, and it's part of the process, and will help you insomuch as it moves you towards healing. Maybe not being healed, but healing.

Ten years later, I'm still healing. I give myself this week, each year, between two other of my kids' birthdays, to just focus on what I'm feeling. We bring flowers to the cemetery on Taylor's Day and on Easter, but this week is usually when I can be found sitting by myself at his grave, just...being his mom.

You're okay, Ann. You'll be okay. You might grieve like me, and you might not. It's okay to be angry. It's okay to hurt. It's okay to take the time to feel. And it's okay to cling to your kids in your home like they're the most important thing in the world...because they are. No one can know that like a mother who has lost one.



Fondly,
~j5t

47 comments:

Vanessa said...

I am sending this to my neighbor, thanks J

wendysue said...

I love that you included HOPE as part of this post. At our last Stake Conference Elder Terrence Smith spent a whole talk on Hope. . .his definition and the way I remember it now is that Hope truly is. . ."HOPE in a glorious resurrection."

Thank you for this post Jenny (and every years "Taylor week") to remind me that it's that type of Hope that we hold onto. Hope for us, and ALL our little ones.

Wee Waldorf said...

Thanks for sharing!!!
So beautifully said.

dalene said...

I've been thinking about you.

Love you--

Amy N. said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I am one of those who never knows what to say, and I'm sure I've stuck my foot in my mouth without knowing it.

Rynell said...

Sometimes it's hard to believe so much time has passed. My little boys would be 12 and 13.

Thanks for your words.

i i eee said...

Thank you.

LKP said...

j, my darling. there are no words right now. thank you for sharing this. i'm not a member of this club, but it's still a tender situation for me. i am one of 2 full-terms in my family. we lost 3 of my siblings before term.
in addition, my best friend lost her second son at almost full term. it was not easy in the least. and no one should expect it to be.
what's disheartening is , despite the pain the family (and even more so, that of the mom), people can't keep their yap shut until AFTER they've thought it through. i was too young to hear what my mom was told in each situation, however i was horrified at what people had the nerve to say to my friend. things like "well, something must be amiss at home if God wouldn't let you have him." or "is there something you haven't repented of yet then?" or "perhaps your family situation wasn't good enough for him." ...and sadly those remarks continued for sometime, and got worse. what was most flabbergasting about these comments was that they were intended to help....i don't know how one can think that they would console or help, but that seems to be what those people thought she needed to hear.
i for one was so shocked, not only by what was said (and by fellow members of her church), but by the fact she was strong enough to STAY in church! i probably couldn't have done it. she amazes me. she could cry because of the pain and then because of people's insensitivity...yet be strong enough in her testimony & faith in forever families that she would still put one foot in front of the other.
perhaps this is why i've not been able to get pregnant since my 13 year old...perhaps because Heavenly Father knows i wouldn't be able to endure it. you ladies who have had to walk this path, i admire your strength and your spirit....and your testimonies.
i also agree with including all of your children in talking. my friend includes her son in the grand head count. when asked, she is the mother of 5 now. one simply went home early. well handled, is say, with such grace and dignity. those spirits are precious too, they are part of your physical family & your spiritual family. they are part of you. they deserve to be celebrated and part of everything, even if they can't physically be here for each step of the mortal journey.
::big hugs today, luv::
(i hope all that made sense, and that it connected outside of my head the way it did inside my head. have a lovely conference weekend!)

Emily said...

Beautiful post. Love you.

Gerb said...

My goodness, Jenny. Very beautifully said.

{natalie} said...

much love to you

Christi said...

loves---

Hailey said...

I just love you.

Angie said...

I am also not a member of this club, but my dear friend is. When they lost their Aaron, they were able to have their three older sons with them during that tender time in the hospital, gently holding their brother that didn't get to stay. One of their sons, wise beyond his years said something that has stuck with me ever since (9 years ago this summer). He said, "Mom I know Aaron is in a better place and we will be with him again, but I had such plans!" And for me that has encapsulated so beautifully what it means to mourn with a gospel knowledge of forever. We know what we know, but we have such plans. I'm so sorry for the plans you had to lay aside and for the plans newly lain aside of your neighbor. thank you, though, for sharing such a tender post.

Naomi Miles said...

I've always found your posts about your son to be beautiful. Thanks for sharing such precious memories and feelings x

Tito said...

sunday will come.

skim milk.

amyraye said...

I am so sorry for you and Ann. hugs for Taylor and Ann's baby.

i am in the club. and within 2 weeks of hitting "making it to a year" without my calvin. i was due in december also, but gave birth at 32 weeks, with a sudden and tragic ending to the time i was thoroughly enjoying with my son inside me.
i can relate to most, if not all, of your emotions and words here. It's such a horrible club to belong to, but what a wonderful group of women that are a part of it.

i wish continued peace and love and healing in this next week for you as you honor your sweet and very missed Taylor.

julie said...

thank-you.

julie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer said...

This is a beautiful post. I have always struggled with what to say or do when someone I know becomes a member of The Club. Each time you post about Taylor and your experiences, you help me in understanding better. Hopefully I can respond appropriately and with love!

Thanks for sharing such tender thoughts. And the picture -- it is absolutely beautiful!

Is this neighbor the one I know? Please email me if it is so I can reach out to her.

swampbaby said...

This touched me so deeply. Thank you for sharing your insight and tender feelings and thoughts.

Cynthia said...

You have described it all so beautifully. My sister has a daughter who was stillborn (though she calls it 'born still' because although she had passed, she was born, still). I am so sorry for your neighbor. No one should have to go through this.

heather said...

you are such a strong, beautiful and courageous mama. your family is so lucky to have you.
sending love to you this week (and always!)
xoxo

Fig said...

I wish I'd read this yesterday, so I could have hugged you last night.

myimaginaryblog said...

This is so beautifully written, and helpful to someone who hasn't experienced this but has friends who have.

I loved Angie's comment, too. We do always have plans.

myimaginaryblog said...

P.S. I wanted to say "I'm so sorry for your loss" but felt funny saying it about something that happened 10 years ago--but which I'm just learning about now. (Not that 10 years seems long to me.) Anyway, I really am sorry that you have to be separated from your son for now.

Geo said...

Jenny, I am so glad to know you. You are brave and fierce and good and tender. You are a luminary. You epitomize motherhood to me. I am holding in my mind right now a scene too lovely to describe with my inadequate words, but it's what I wish for you and feel certain will find you and knock you over with joy one day, one day.

Ixchelle said...

such a touching post. I remember your sweet baby's funeral. I was there. I'll never forget your husband's sweet words he spoke that day...so inspiring. My sister just lost her baby this year and my sister-in-law this month. My heart aches for all three of you. So glad you keep these posts real. You are truly such an inspitaion to me and so many others.

Tori said...

Beautiful post Jenny.
Love you.

Steph said...

I have no words except I love you.

leschornmom said...

You say so plainly what I cannot...grieving thirteen years, for our David, this past August. Thinking of you and your family.

Melody said...

Oh, Jenny.

Thank you for posting the photo. For talking about your son, your family.

Kaerlig said...

That picture says everything. It hurts to look at it.

alexis said...

looking at that picture made me burst into tears. i'm glad i got to see it, though, because now i have a better understanding of who you are. thank you so much for this post...i've never had a baby who died, but i have had a miscarriage, and i don't care what anyone says, a child that dies is a child that dies. no matter what. everyone is allowed to have their own sense of loss. we are each allowed to feel the sadness without having someone say, "well at least..."

love you girl.

Amy said...

I am so sorry you had to go through the loss of your beautiful son. And I can't believe someone would dare say you hadn't bonded. You bond with that child from the moment you conceive and that bond grows more and more each day. And that bond continues forever, no matter what happens.

The picture is beautiful and what a beautiful and sacred moment you shared with us. Thank you and love you.

deb said...

I have tears streaming down my face. I really have no words. Sending hugs.

Jacki said...

I'm bawling as I read this. What a wonderful, beautiful, perfect way to describe a horrible experience.
I have also experienced this loss and yours is by far the best description I have read of how it feels.
Thank You

Emily said...

I don't know you, someone on my FB posted a link to this. I have been there. My little girl was stillborn 3 1/2 years ago. Its funny (for lack of a better term) when you hear what people say to you. What is fine for one, may annoy/irritate the next To some people, saying "Im sorry for your loss" is perfectly acceptable. I will never say that to anyone. To me, you lose something that you dont care about. You lose your keys, you lose those extra 10 pounds. I have my whole "opinion" about losing things here if you'd like to read.
http://itisjustanotherdayinparadise.blogspot.com/2009/04/happy-birthday-savannah-grace.html

I don't know where you live, Im in Utah, but check your area to see if they have a "Walk To Remember" its a wonderful event, and everyone has "been there" Salt Lakes is Oct 16th.

Kemp Kuties said...

Taylor & Luke will always be remembered in my heart. And the pictures you and Ann shared on your blogs are so tender to me - once a mother, always a mother. No matter what. God bless you and your families, both here and up there.

Lisa said...

I love you!

Wonder Woman said...

So beautiful and heartbreaking.

I read this when it posted but didn't comment because I'm a lazy blogger. After meeting you last night, I feel stupid for not commenting. I enjoyed chatting with you for a few minutes. I won't be a stranger around here any longer.

Kristen said...

i remember this... i was and still am so amazed at your strength and courage.
much love,
kristen

The P*dunc's said...

What an amazing look into your soul. Thank you for sharing these painful and tender moments. I think it has helped us all.
Much love, Kristen

Adoralice said...

thank you for sharing.

Starrymedgirl said...

Thank you for writing this. My brother and sister-in-law had their little girl Reese, stillborn, two years ago now. I flew out to be with them for the delivery, and people at work (where I'd suddenly had to leave to be with them) were pretty insensitive about me being gone, even though they knew the reason. In some of their comments, it became clear that they didn't understand the heaviness of the grief my family was dealing with. I'm so glad you explained it in such a way as to help people who haven't been close to a loss like that, understand a little better.

Not so Molly Mormon After-All said...

Well written.

This month marks the 17th year of our son's still birth, 17 years on my 22nd birthday. I've got to tell you as the date draws near, it will be difficult, I will be sad...even though I fully understand the plan, the sadness will be there and then it will subside for a time.

criticalcrass said...

i hate this. i hate that you, that anyone should know this hurt. i hate that i can't comprehend well enough, having never experienced it myself.

i can tell you that i hate when people ask me about my brothers. one's in heaven. i never know whether i should say i've one or two. similar thoughts go through my head. if i say two, i've to say where they are, how old they are. if i say one...

i've gotten in the habit of saying two, but saying the one is in colorado (where he's buried, but i don't say that part), and quickly talk about my younger brother instead.

i think you did a great job writing this post.

i'm sorry.