Monday, December 10, 2007

Flames



Yesterday may have been the first time in this nonsense that the anticipation was worse than the event. (Usually the anticipation is bad and the event/holiday/-iversary supersedes my expectations and is fucking miserable.) But I was helped here in no small measure by a couple of Mr. ABF's family members who called us early yesterday morning to say that -- after accepting our invitation 2 months ago to attend the memorial service, and knowing full well it was held outside in December, and there were space limitations and so we could only take 6 people including ourselves -- they would not be attending last night.

Because it might rain.

And so, Mr. ABF was left without family representation because his fucking jackhole lousy bastard sorry excuse for humans incompassionate, unfeeling, ungrateful emotionally vapid inconsiderate relatives couldn't find their umbrellas and warm socks handle emotion -- theirs or his -- and waited until the last minute to tell him. Ironically or not, the other side of his family was confabbing a few miles away, and I knew someone there would want to come and be with him/us, but we didn't want to pressure and guilt them at the last minute. We wanted (call us crazy) people to come who actually wanted to be there. To remember their relative, Maddy. To support us.

My breakdown came earlier in the day in the car, on the way home from grocery shopping. I thought seriously about calling someone from Mr. ABF's family, and changed my mind. I got the sad and angry part out then, the part about missing my daughter and having to do it alone, and by last night realized that I was Mr. ABF's support, and acted accordingly.

Right as we got to the hospital, despite the throng exiting the parking garage, I ran into another mom I knew from a support group. So I rather immediately felt at home, where the elephant disintegrated, and no one was pointing at me in hushed whispers. Bella behaved marvelously, and deciding her glowstick was "for babies" she opted for a real candle. She spent some time standing up luminaria that had fallen in the wind and then slalomed through them. We listened for Maddy's name, and my momfriend's son's name, and the litany of other babies and children. Whereas last April I would've been horrified, last night I was somewhat pleasantly surprised to see people mourning children who had died as long ago as the year I was born. I don't want to be debilitated that long, but I would like to remember that long.

The weather was crisp, cold, overcast, but no rain.

My scraps were safely ensconced in a ziplock, tucked in my breast pocket. And they did help. Everyone helped. I came home, put them in a bowl on my entry hall table, and lit a candle next to them. I'll probably do this a few more nights until the Christmas whatnot and the bill pile defeat the shrine for space. But I've decided I'm going to do this again, carry everyone's weight and memories with my own. I'm still livid about these relatives. If this is how they treat the dead and the living, I want no part of them and I'm not going to jump through hoops to connect with them, especially this month. I'm just sorry that the support we assumed to possess appears to have been built on smoke and mirrors.

At the service, Children's Hospital handed out books with pictures of children and, if their parents wished, a message, or poem, or song for their children. A dissertation could be written on these submissions: they can be classified quickly into "you're now with God/Jesus/Allah" letters; bad, and (surprisingly) good lyrics and poetry, both borrowed and self-composed; straight letters of despondency (one with the word WHY studded throughout in capital letters); and even a few poignant missives in hip hop - ese ("U'R missed"). We submitted the following:

Maddy,

You weren't just wanted, you were already here: you were a sister, a daughter, a pet owner. You were loved. You were read to, shown photos of your entire extended family, lectured to about where your ancestors came from and how your parents met. Your sister gave you a Valentine, and thanks to a lovely NICU nurse, you gave her one too. You left us footprints, handprints, a lock of hair, and some grainy pictures taken by thoughtful staff in poorly lit environments. You put up with your mother's sobbing, and your father's thoughtful silence. You never met your sister, but she knows you -- she can locate you instantly in a crowd of baby pictures, and she never seems to mind the number of tubes and wires around you. She pronounces your name perfectly, makes pages for your memory book, and waters your tree. In your short time here, you taught us that even the littlest among us have the strength of giants, and that every day on this earth is precious. You are a memory, a future lost, a chasm in our hearts, and a canyon in our identity as parents. You were only here six days, but you will with us forever, as you should have been from the first place. We love and miss you so much.

Mommy, Daddy, and Bella

16 comments:

Beruriah said...

Beautiful, Tash.

Despite the bleeping in-laws, it sounds like the event was good for you. I'm glad.

And the letter, wow. Leaves me speechless.

artandwords said...

Okay, I'm crying. So very sad for you, but so grateful that you write about it all so beautifully.

Elizabeth said...

What a beautiful letter, Tash. It had me in tears, too. I'm so sorry that Mr. ABF's family let him down.

Which Box said...

The letter had me in tears too.

I'm so sorry about your in-laws. It never ceases to surprise me how many ways we can disappointed by those who supposedly love us.

Carole said...

Tash,
Beautiful...just beautiful. I have goosebumps and tears. What an touching tribute that you wrote to your daughter. Her time here on earth was too short...but she has touched my life immensely.

I am so sorry about Mr. ABF's family. I've got a sock full of wood screws if you needs any help...uhm...you know...taking care of them or anything. ;)
~Carole

Which Box said...

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Searching said...

I'm sorry about those crappy excuses for family members. I'm glad you saw a friendly face and that the memorial was a GOOD thing. Your letter to sweet Maddy is beautiful. Thank you for sharing it.

Thanks for including my babies. Their families will never know, but it means something to me. And just maybe, it means something to those little ones. They aren't forgotten. One of the last things I told Peanut DIva's momma was that my life was changed for having taken care of her and she would not be forgotten. Same thing for your Maddy, who I feel I "know" through your words. I will not ever forget her, or you, no matter where my twisted path in life takes me. Thanks for accepting me in your deadbaby circle even though I'm an outsider.

niobe said...

This whole thing has taught me that my low expectations for people....just weren't quite low enough.

carole said...

what an amazing letter. thank you for sharing it.

and yeah, family sucks. especially when it comes to mourning dead babies. i'm so glad you had a true friend with you, though.

Bon said...

the letter is really beautiful, Tash. and all so true.

and Niobe is, as ever, quite right. sorry 'bout that.

Waiting Amy said...

A lovely letter and it sounds as if overall a good experience. I'm sorry some let you down. But I'm proud of you for being there for your husband.

ms. G said...

I'm really sorry about the family. I'm constantly left speechless as I hear these stories. As for your letter, it was so beautiful and perfect. You expressed so much.

Anonymous said...

I have tears streaming down my face...thank you for sharing your letter with us. xoxox N

meg said...

That letter is amazing. I, too, am in tears.

As for Mr. ABF's family...I'm truly sorry. My in-laws have never been there for us at all, or my family either. I think if anyone, any one single person, doesn't blow you off, it's some kind of miracle. I just don't know why it has to be this way. Nothing like kicking you, when you're down. That's what we say in our house...'cause that's what it feels like.

Kymberli said...

I didn't know you a year ago, but I surely wish that I did. What a beautiful letter to your daughter.

Anonymous said...

Tash - It does get better - our sweet baby Alice (Ali) would be 12 this coming January (dob/dod 011497). I remember my cries feeling so carnal - like some animal. Fortunately, I had some wonderful friends and family to help me through that DARK time. There are still difficult times now that I've reached menopause and know that there will never be another baby for me, and Ali was my last full term baby.

A friend gave me the book "When bad things happen to Good People". I found it inspiring, and rather than letting her short life ruin me - like it has my husband, in many ways; I decided to live my life to honor her. I volunteered for Victim's Services of our local police department to use my nurturing that I wasn't able to place with my baby. As time passed, I changed my career from accounting/software support to return to school for nursing. My ob/gyn rotation was the one of the hardest things I've ever endured since losing Ali, but I feel that I am a better person and able to provide care and support for others like us who have lost so much.

I don't remember who posted to your site that losing a child isn't the worst thing. I have to agree. I am so grateful that God didn't come and say to me - "Ok, I'm sorry, but you have to lose one of your daughters (we have a daughter who was 17 at the time), but YOU (I) have to decide which to lose." How could I have made such a choice. If I "had" to lose one, I'm so glad I wasn't the one who had to choose which one. My brother-in-law's brother and his wife have a little girl who was born with significant disabilities and have been told repeatedly she wouldn't live another year - she's now 7. I'm grateful that my child hasn't been forced to suffer in such a way and that we, as her family, aren't put in a position - as I've seen some resent their child for being "such a burden".

God Bless you for having the grace, love and cyberknowledge to build such a site and provide a place to go for the many who suffer the loss of a child - and pursue lengthy, expensive infertility treatments - often without positive results.

Denise (1 daughter living - age - almost 29; 1 full-term loss - Jan 14, 1997; 3 additional miscarriages prior to 5 months after losing Ali - all but our first were conceived with the help of infertility treatments).