On Sunday night, I will attend a candlelight service at Children's Hospital, sponsored by Compassionate Friends, in memory of Children who have died. Needless to say, I've been dreading it. We never had a memorial service for Maddy -- we were too dazed, in shock, and in such different states of grief that we couldn't reconcile anything. And so nothing happened. And so, in April, when Children's Hospital held their biannual service for children who have died within the last 6 months, we felt compelled to go. It was awful. It was held in an auditorium, and the air was so thick with grief that my toddler burst into tears immediately upon entering the room without anything happening yet and not really knowing what was going on. It was claustrophobic and oppressive. A stranger had to come sit with me when Mr. ABF left with Bella to play with balloons. Which was lovely of her, but to think I looked to be in a state to need such companionship . . . .well. There was no catharsis, or closure, or "honoring her memory," or anything. It was just a fucking wretched couple of hours and left me feeling like I had been hit by a car. For a week.
So what possessed us to go to this upcoming one, I have no idea. Probably guilt that we STILL haven't done anything on our own for Maddy, so thank goodness these things pop up that we can attend and assuage ourselves for a few hours. People I know who have attended both say this one is much, much better -- that although sad, it's somehow uplifting to be outside, under the sky in the cold weather, looking out over the sea of candlelight. They claim instead of the enclosed room with the circling green cloud of bereavement, the emotions seem to have space to drift upwards. I really hope they're right, because my anxiety level about this is increasing by the hour. I realized my face hurt, and it's because I'm clenching my jaw.
And then I had a thought. In my last comments, Whatthefu*k (well, formerly known as; now "Trying to have") asked about the service and it got me thinking: I have so many children to mourn now. In three short blogging months, I have come to know so many of you, and your lost babies. And so I decided out of nowhere that I'll put your babies' names on scraps of paper and carry them with me to the service on Sunday evening. On the one hand, this is increasing my load. I mean, it's tough enough mourning one baby, let alone a football squad worth, why throw more stones in the sack? And maybe I shouldn't distract myself from my own child and her brief life. Surely this is some (sub)conscious diversionary tactic. Focus, Tash. On the other hand, though, the thought of these scraps somehow disperses the load, makes it less intense, and thus easier to bear. Kinda like when two tiny, geriatric, professional piano movers can swiftly and easily move a grand across a room and out the door: they know exactly how to distribute the weight so that the lifting and moving is easy. (Watch a couple beefy guys with no clue try and move it, and you'll see what I mean.) When touching these names I'll know I'm not alone in my journey through hell. And though I don't believe in the afterlife, I'll also feel somewhat better that Maddy's experience wasn't singular, and she is not alone now in death -- literally.
Sunday night, in addition to my own child, I will be thinking of the brief and extraordinary lives of
If you have commented here, and I have overlooked yours (and for those with more than one, I may not have dipped back far enough into your archives to derive a name, please forgive me), please tell me -- that's what the comments are for. Tell me if you lurk and you'd like your child to be included. Tell me if you'd like me to remove your child's name or encrypt it to keep nosy family members away from your blog (hence my decision not to set up links for these). Tell me if you'd like me to use a nickname, or a real one instead of an initial. Tell me, please god, if I've spelled someone's name wrong. Tell me the names, and I will gladly, surely, solemnly, add a name to a scrap of paper to keep in my pocket and close to my heart.