Thursday, December 6, 2007


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* Natan, Apollo, Artemis, A___, Nicolas, Matthew, Georgia, Mira, Ben, Harvey, Joseph, Lily, Amelia, Beatrice, Survivorgirl, Wade, Katie, Charlotte, M., Birdie, Paige, Georgia, Green, Charlotte M., and Peanut Diva.

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.

* Edits to list will be made in Italics.


Elizabeth said...

Oh, Tash. I am crying here. What a lovely thing to do. I will be thinking of you and Maddy this weekend.

Carole said...

What an incredibly beautiful idea. Whether there was a service or have honored Maddy. You have honored her and her life every day that you have gotten out of bed...that you have done those daily things that just suck. And you have honored her by sharing her story her. I feel truly blessed to know you.

meg said...

Tash, thank you so much. I love this idea. LOVE IT.

I'm glad that you are going to this service. I hope, I truly hope, that I will have the strength to go to the one that my hospital puts on every year.

And I like the thought that Maddy is up there with my girls--that they are not alone. It gives me a little comfort.

Searching said...

I think that's wonderful of you. Not sure the exact word I want to use, but it shows what a GOOD, KIND person you are. I agree that you have honored your sweet Maddy. By going on, raising her big sister, sharing stories of her...

I will light a candle for all these little ones and say a prayer for their families, too. If you would, please add Peanut Diva. I still think of her often and her mother. So many others in my heart I will grieve, but she especially this past year became dear to me. Itty bitty thing, but you could just tell there was a tiny personality in there wanting to come out. I tried so hard, but her body just couldn't live. So, please, add her, too.

Tash said...

Carole, thank you so, so much for those words. You don't know how much they mean to me, and how much I needed to hear them.

Searching, I was hoping you'd have a name for me. Will do.

kate said...

That is a beautiful idea...thank you for including my boy. And yes, it is Nicolas with no h...but don't feel bad about that, it happens all the time...

I will be thinking about you & Maddie, and all my internet friends who have lost babies, as i light my candle this sunday.

ms. G said...

This is a wonderful idea. I'm actually speechless because I just don't know what to say in response to such a kind and good gesture.

Julia said...

I have to add my voice to those saying you have honored Maddy, and her beautiful family. If in no other way than by telling us of that horrible night and the next morning, and her father and his bag of books. But there are all the other ways too. You have honored her.
I had to sit with this for a while before I was able to comment. And I thank you, deeply, for including A. I will email you his full name. Thank you, again.

Julia said...

Ooops-- can't find an email link. If you want to, please email me so I can send it to you. I don't mind fellow travelers knowing his name, I just don't want to write it out on the blog.

Tash said...

Believe me when I tell you that my primary motivation for doing this is not being kind or generous with my grief, it's to keep me from throwing up. I appreciate your thanks, but really, not what I'm after.

Julia, sorry, I'll get you my email.

Megan said...

You're lovely, Tash. I'll be thinking about you tonight.
I'd forgotten that both Aurelia and I named babies Georgia.
The candlelight event sounds so much nicer than a memorial service.
My husband stormed out of the one at our local hospital. It was at the part when the women who'd had several miscarriages read some doggerel about how her dead babies were now cavorting with Jesus so she shouldn't be sad.

Tash said...

Megan, I actually had no idea. Will add another Georgia. I'm so sorry.

I hate, hate, hate that sentiment. Thankfully I live in an extremely diverse place (the last service looked like a mini UN), so there will be none of that. If they play "Rainbow Connection," though, I may have to impale someone with my umbrella.

(another) carole said...

this is such a lovely idea, and so generously thoughtful of you. and it's a good reminder -- one i needed -- that loving others is one of the best ways to honor our griefs.

i'll be thinking of you tonight.


Searching said...

I am thinking of all you deadbabymommas today, praying you have the strength to get through this day. I know you think of your little ones EVERY day, but it seems like the pain is denser on memorial days, the fog thicker. I lit a candle for all the children. It made me reflect on so many I've "lost" as a nurse.

If I might add one more poor soul that not many on this earth ever knew, and only a few nurses shed a tear for. I will call him Green, because that's the color he was. My only clinical day in the NICU in school and there were 4 babies in this unit. Green died, right there in front of me. I saw him take his last breath and listened to his stilled heart. It was horrifying. I cried and cried that night, not that he was finally at peace because his little body was so ravaged with disease he needed to go, but he wasn't loved. His "mother" was a crack addicted prostitute who gave birth in a drugstore parking lot, 3 months early, put him in tin foil, and an hour later decided to call 911. She didn't even stay at the hosp, checked out AMA and that was that. It was my first encounter with a liveborn infant's death, and the first I'd ever dealt with such an unwanted and unloved life. It tore me up. I've seen many more since, and actually some worse, but it always gets me. Always will, just the way I am. So one day I WILL burn out at my job, but all these unwanted ones won't be unloved ones. They'll at least have a piece of MY heart if nothing else. So, just a quick prayer for little Green. And if you have it in you, for his f*ed up mother too. God knows she needs it.

Tash said...

Carole and Searching, I will add the names. Carole, I will just add to my slips, let me know if you'd like them listed in my post.

Searching, you truly have a very big heart. I'm so glad you do what you do.

Anonymous said...

Please carry Charlotte May McDonald
March 10, 2006 with you tonight.

Thank you. What a lovely idea.

niobe said...

Since you say you're not looking for thanks, I won't offer mine (even though I really want to).

I will say, though, that when I looked at your list, I kept trying to figure out who in the world had named their babies Artemis and Apollo.

I can be kind of slow sometimes.

Beruriah said...

Oh I missed this post. I know you didn't want thanks, but I need to thank you.

charmedgirl said...

oh my wrote paige, and meant MY baby.

i don't think i'm crying so much for her right now but for the fact that someone thought of her and wrote her name.
thank you.