Sunday, December 31, 2017

Four Years

Happy birthday, Alaska Eileen. Four years. Four years a forever baby. We love you.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

On Redemption

#writeingriefDay 11

Saved. Fixed. I have written about this. About how I can't be fixed. About how I don't need to be fixed. 

I know that's what those who love me would like to do. I would like to fix things for my people who hurt, too. I'm not sure there is ever a situation that I direly wanted to fix that I could actually fix. 

What I could do is witness. And that is what I need. That is all that I need from my people who want to fix me. 

As for the bullshit some tout about needing to be broken in order to be better, I don't know if I can touch that today. I see grief memes about redemption and whatnot almost every day if I actually scroll through my feed. I just can't buy it, and I can't stand that some people do buy that. It doesn't feel honest to me. It's trying to label something that cannot be labeled. Trying to explain it away with a pretty story. You can't take a dead person and put a bow on top of their ashes and make it anything than what it is. 

I hope with every ounce of my being that my story ends with an alive baby sibling for my sons. If that happens, will I feel redeemed? Will I feel like I earned it or maybe like my dead daughter. dead babies. were meant to die? No. Fuck no. 

I will forever ache for the babies I have lost. 

And if my story ends with more loss? Will I have earned that somehow? Am I meant to continue to give birth to death? Over and over and over. 

I wish life worked out so that magical thinking actually got results. No, I don't even know if I wish that because that is not how it works.

I wish my daughter had lived. That's really it. No redemption story will ever make me want anything else. I can want my daughter to have lived while also fiercely loving a new baby who lives. I can want both of those things just as I can be broken and joyful and furious. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Take It Back

#writeingriefDay 10

I don’t know what to do with this. I don’t know how to write into the present absence. I don’t know how to talk about how the loss carves its way into everything. 

I don’t know how to do that right now. I don’t wanna. But I do. I need to. I need to write it even if I don’t know how. 

The first part of this prompt that really struck me was the part about how early grief can be two months or two years. And when I first read it, I thought that two years seemed like so long to be in early grief. But then I realized that it’s been over 14 months since Alaska died. Fourteen fucking months?! What? Is this real? Have I been the mom of a dead daughter for more than fourteen months? 

No. no no no no no. This can’t be. This can’t be real. No. 

I don’t want this. This isn’t mine. Take it back. Why won’t anyone take it back? I’ve been asking, demanding for more than 14 months now. Give her back. 

It was so easy, you see. She was growing, thriving with that little beating heart. You can’t take that from me. You can’t just have that be my world in one moment and then just take it away. I didn’t tell you that you could do that. Goddamn it. 

Supposedly this gets easier over time. I don’t buy that. I don’t want it to get easier. How can living without my daughter. my babies. ever get easier? 

And when I write that, I wonder at how pathetic it might sound. And from the outside looking in, maybe it looks like I’m just fine, like I have moved on. It seems important to note that I am living my life and looking mostly just fine while always carrying this awful truth that is doing life without my babies. It’s not quite correct to say that I’m doing life without my babies when I have living sons and when all of my children are still with me. I guess I meant that I’m doing life without having all of my children here with me with hearts beating. 

“you lose them everywhere” Yep. And for always. Even looking back at Before, I still know. I look back and want to slow the time. If I can’t stop Alaska’s heart from beating, maybe I could just stretch time a bit? Nope. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

#writeingriefDay 9-Mess around with NO. 

Ok. You asked for it. 
No. No, you cannot tell me to be grateful for the blessings that I have.

No, you cannot question whether I should use such ugly words.

No, you cannot ask me how I am doing and expect me to beam at you and blow golden sprinkles up your butt.

No. I don’t wanna. I don’t want to pretend right now. I don’t want to pretend for this audience, so I am not going to go. 




No. You shouldn’t be offended by my no. You shouldn’t give up on me. Please don’t give up on me. Keep showing up even when I shout NO at you.

But, no. I’m not going to go back to that person I was before. I don’t know her. I try to poke my face, see if she’s in there. Try to remember her. She’s gone. 


No, you can’t do anything about any of it. You can just take me as I am. You can love me anyway. Or leave me. I’m ok. I have people. 


No heartbeat. 

No diapers.
No carseat. spitup. little girl giggles. 

No pink skirts. No little sister shirts.

No heartbeat. Again. No. 

Fuck you, no. Thank you, no. 


No birth certificate. No death certificate. No funeral. 

No. no. no. no. no. no. no.

Yes. Yes. I have a daughter. Yes she died. Yes she is loved. Yes she has a name. Yes. 

And no, nothing can take her from me. Not even death. Not even no death certificate. Not even no heartbeat can take her from me. Them. My babies. My little loves.

No. No nightmare; this is real. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

My Words That Need to Be Written

Day 8- Write about “the obstinance of words.” 

I love that this prompt so stubbornly wrote itself. This is always how writing is for me. Sometimes I relent and let the words have their way. Sometimes I think I can win because I’m stubborn, too. I never win with words. Ever. Well, maybe I win when I listen to them. When I trust. The words know what needs to be written and know that I haven’t a clue. 

When I think I know just what I will write, I usually find out that I have lost all of the words. 

Most of the time I trust this process. I let myself bitch and whine and carry on about how I don’t wanna write or how I just can’t do it or how I don’t have the words anyway. The words aren’t enough. They never quite suffice when it comes to love and pain and beauty. 

They try with their curves and their edges and their hooks. 
They try with their rhythm. 

With absence and space. 

They try. 

But the words cannot pierce the truth. I can hold Truth in my hands, my bones. I can cover Truth with words, trying to reveal it so you really see and feel it. I can hand my Truth over to you so the words stamp your skin, but they will smudge away before reaching your bones.

What is the point of this then? What is the point of chasing these words when I know that they will never quite get there? What is the point of this when people question the words that I use or they presume? 

And when I hold my Truth in my hands, do I really know what I’m holding? The words help me find it. The words help me sort it out. They help me wade through the utter bullshit that I believe because I won’t trust myself to look too closely, so I just grab on to some idea that I heard. 

Why do I trust the words? Why do I trust that the words that write themselves are my Truth? I don’t know. It’s a feeling. It’s knowing that sometimes my fingers know things that the rest of me doesn’t know. Like passwords. I cannot say my passwords or type them, but my hands know them. Sometimes when I think too hard about my passwords, I type them in wrong. And again. And again. And then I have to face the goddamn security hoops to prove I’m a human. 

So, yes. I trust my words. I trust my process. I set my timer and write. I let myself whine and then find my way to the words that need to be written. Not the words that I want to write. The words that need to be written. The words that fester when I don’t find the time to sit down with them. 

These are the words that need to be written. These are the words that I will continue to write even when people question whether I should write them. These are the words that are in front of me, always. These are the words that I will follow even when they are contradictory.

You are welcome to hold them, but just know that if you question these words that need to be written, I will write them anyway. Stand in front of me. Right there. Stay still. My words will write circles around you. I will write until the ground breaks and you fall through and just go away. These are my words that need to be written. My obstinate words.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

On Habits of After

Day 7-Writing into the habits of grief.

I don’t wanna. I don’t. want. to. go. here. 

“They aren’t habits we chose happily…” -Megan Devine

Nope. They are habits I would give back if it meant I could wake up from this nightmare. I know I won’t. I know my wishing will not unhappen the death that is what I have birthed. Is this wishing a habit? Is Should Be a habit? 

I am really struggling with this one. I keep thinking about the people who judge and what they might think. 

“But I want to hold on to the grieving/ as a way of holding on to you.” -Megan Hall

Me too. 

“It hardly seemed possible.” -Megan Hall

Yes. This is exactly it. It doesn't seem possible that this is my life. It doesn’t seem possible that I am sitting here without my daughter. She was growing along and then she died. And now I’m writing about habits brought on because that happened, but it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make a goddamn bit of sense. And I’ve started saying goddamn a lot lately. And it fucking feels good. I have always refrained from saying goddamn. Even After. But now, I’m fucking fired up about some shit, goddamn it. 

Swearing is a habit of After. And holding my breath. And not caring about habits from Before. 

What even is a habit? I feel like I’ve been writing about this for two days now and thinking about it for almost a week, and I don’t even know what a habit is anymore.

a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up
synonyms: custom, practice, routine, wont, pattern, tradition

“one that is hard to give up” Grief is a habit. I don’t want to give it up. I don’t want to let go of the only thing that is left of my daughter. my babies. 

Saying no is a new habit of mine. No, I can’t come to that. No, I won’t do that. No. And I won’t apologize anymore either. No...I’m not coming. I’m not sorry. And I’m not going to give you an excuse to make you feel better. Just no. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015


#writeingriefDay 6-Again, this was written some time ago. 

Write into habits. I’ve sat down with this prompt three times this week but haven’t written a word. 

Write into habits. Habits. Habits. 

Checking my bump. First it was bloat and then it was baby. And then she died.

Habits. Waking up in the middle of the night for a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of milk. Until I didn’t. I didn’t wake up one night just days after Christmas 2013. I noticed, but I didn’t think much of it. After I found out she was dead, I realized that not waking up starving meant something. Of course it doesn’t matter because Alaska died, so it doesn’t matter that it took me a few days to catch on. 

Peanut butter sandwiches never tasted so good those days. I don’t eat those anymore. 

For a while I thought maybe the peanut butter sandwiches killed her. Or maybe it was my hairspray. Or toothpaste. Or maybe I shouldn’t have worn tights. 

Now I know that isn’t true. I mean I don’t have proof or anything, but I know that peanut butter sandwiches didn’t kill my little girl. 

And I know that whatever did kill her doesn’t matter. Why doesn’t matter. 

And habits. I’m having some major delays with this prompt. I just stop and hold my breath for a few seconds and don’t write anything.

Habits. Write into habits. Pregnancy comes with many habits. Take your vitamins, exercise, eat healthy snacks. 

What habits does Empty have? Breathe. At least try. Eat. Just enough. Feel. Try not to feel. Feel every bit.

And After? I’m not sure. I’m still stumbling around out here. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Beauty in After

#writeingrief Round 2 Day 5-This post was written moons ago.

"We are broken but not damaged." -Megan Devine

Writing into the beauty is intimidating. We do certainly have a beauty that is unlike anything I have ever known. I couldn't see it Before. I didn't want to see it. I knew it was there but was afraid to look too closely. maybe it wasn't mine to witness yet. I don't know, though. I don’t want to say that I had no right to witness Before. I just couldn't, wouldn't. 

We are broken but not damaged. YES. How does this work? How are we broken but not damaged? I don't know HOW. I just know that this is the way it is. This is the truth of After. We walk around in the shell of Before. We do what we need to do and people may think we are doing it wrong. They may tell us that we shouldn't talk that way or write those ugly words. We should be grateful for the blessings that we do have and should focus on the positive. 

We are not damaged for feeling so deeply. That is not damaged. 

"Do not medicate away this melancholy." -Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster tells us to feel all of our feels, tells us to go into the melancholy. 

But how often do people see the bereaved as damaged? How often do they inflict damage upon the broken? We are broken not damaged, but we can be damaged. Even though whatever is said or done cannot compare to the reality of living in After, we can be damaged. By words. By thoughts. By actions and inactions.

I wish that I could protect us from being damaged. 

Do we have to learn how to protect our own heart? I am walking around with this armor up trying not to let in the poison. I can't really protect myself from those chemical burns, though. If it isn't dumped on me by another person, I find the bottle sitting on the sidewalk and dump it on myself. If I don't do that, it comes flying at me from nowhere, poison dousing my clothes. Dripping down my arms. Sizzling a new path over my skin.

Is this beauty? 

What is the beauty in After? It's the community. The support. The understanding. The witness. It's the vulnerability explored through words that cannot ever fully reach the truth. It's the trying to reach the truth.

What is NOT the beauty in After? It is not a lesson learned. It is not being grateful for what we have. It is not loving harder. It is not a gift or blessing. The beauty in After would be traded for our living love.

I would trade it for just one breath. I would trade it for one moment of her voice. I would trade it for a kiss, my lips to her cheek. I would trade this beauty for just one sleepless night with my girl and her beating heart. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

It Just Is

#writeingrief Round 2
Day 4-

I couldn't write this yesterday. I felt frozen. I couldn't even sit down and write into feeling frozen. Maybe I was just being lazy.

So today I am forcing myself to sit with this prompt. 

I was instantly hesitant when I read that we are supposed to go into this seeking comfort. I don't wanna. Why? Just because. No reason. I don't know. I'm scared. I can't think of anything. It's too much pressure. What do you expect? 

And of course there you have it. A list of excuses. Empty ones. And no one expects anything. Except that I just show up to these words. I don't even have to write into them if I can't. I can just read the prompt and leave it at that. 

What is it about choosing weather that has me incapable of stringing a few words together? Maybe it's that weather feels like a stranger lately. Winter means running from the house to the car to the school to the car to the house. And an occasional walk when the windchill isn't too ridiculous. 

And those walks in the winter weather are refreshing. It's the air. Crisp to the point of painful some days. But breathing in the frozen air helps me center somehow. The road under my feet and stretched in front of my path guides me, propels me forward even when I don't wanna go for a walk. (I don't wanna.) 

"What kind of comfort do you find in such impartial Nature?" -Megan Devine

Spending a few minutes out in the weather reminds me that nature does not care whether I am pissed or sad or happy or confused. Nature doesn't care about my emotions and doesn't judge. It just is. It just is hot and sunny. It just is cloudy. It just is a blue-sky, cold-ass day. It just is. What I bring to it matters not at all. Why is this comforting? Maybe it's the reliability that you get what you get. I can tell Nature that I'm over winter. I could request a blizzard. And each would go ignored. The weather could come along and claim an entire town but leave one tulip standing. So I'm comforted by the reliability of my lack of control over the weather. I have no idea what to make of that.

Death: You get what you get. (I just wrote that and would like to delete it.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Spiral

#writeingrief Round 2
Day 3-

Earlier today I came across a very timely paragraph I wrote about five years ago when I attended a week-long writing institute on genocide. In preparation for the institute, we created identity boxes. In my identity box, I included...damn. I can’t remember much of what I included, and I just searched for the box and can’t find it. I know I had items to represent my family and my job and my identities as a reader and a writer. One of the first activities we did with the identity box was that we were given a slip of paper that said the name of one of the items from our box. The item on this paper represented what was taken from us, and we had to write about how it would be to have that taken from us. My paper said “son.”

I’m frozen at the thought of one of my sons being taken away. I’m trying not to cry about it right now and this is only an exercise with a word written in pencil on a small piece of blue paper. I guess that says something about how it would feel if it were true. About how people feel when it happens to them. I think my response would be to fight...but I can also see how it could be easy to just fade away, give up. And now that I wrote that I have decided that, no, I would fight. I would fight...I hope I would fight.”

So that was Before me, and I remember how I couldn’t allow myself to fully go there but that I was holding back deep sobs. When everyone around me realized what I had been given and how I reacted, they protected me from going too far into that scenario. When I read this today, I recognized how little I understood but also that I was onto something: I would fight.

Or maybe give up.

No, I would fight.

I hope I would fight.

Now I know that in the course of a couple of moments, Grief can take me from fighting to giving up and back around to a number of other places. Is this the spiral CS Lewis asks about in A Grief Observed? He asks whether he is going up or down. It’s not that easy with Grief. Up or down? No.

It’s not up or down. It’s both. It’s not just falling or climbing. It’s balancing on a razor sharp spiral and losing your footing and grabbing on as Grief slices at your grip. It’s climbing even when the very tip of the spiral has pierced your guts. It’s bloody and shitty and it reeks. You plead for tears to fall that they may wash away the gore. You climb and climb as Grief rips you apart until you realize that you have to stop flailing and feel the way the spiral shifts around you. And you move with it. And you learn to trust Grief and trust yourself. (You trust Grief to be a sneaky bastard that will shift at the last moment.) You trust even knowing that the spiral razor may wrap around you gently and carefully, lulling you into believing that you are in control, until--at the last second--it constricts tighter and tighter.

And you will fight.

And you will trust.

And you will give up.

And you will bleed.

And again.