Thursday, December 11, 2008

Scraps, Redux

A year ago I was grinding my teeth preparing for the candlelight service (Second Sunday in December, sponsored by the Compassionate Friends -- see sidebar candle for more info) at Children's Hospital. We never had a service for Maddy, so we view it as some sort of obligation to attend the ones the hospital offers us. The indoor one they hold biannually for the children who have died in the past six months was . . . .what's the word? Eviscerating? And I was promised that the December one, held outside, which honors any child who has died, no matter when, was much more freeing. That emotions, instead of sinking like a heavy, dirty, choking cloud from the end of a super-villain's umbrella, rose into the stary wintertime night sky, with the outlines of breath and the faint wisps of candlelight.

This is a popular service -- this year they will read 363 names -- and so they ask attendees to limit the number of tickets they hand out to six (including ourselves). Last year, we thought it would be nice to have support from both of our families: I asked my aunt and uncle to join us, and Mr. ABF asked his father and his father's wife.

The morning of, an overcast not-too-chilly December day with an expected high of 48 or so, my FIL in called to say they wouldn't be coming because it might rain.

I have felt alone in this journey, believe me. There is nothing so lonely as coming home from the hospital without your child. Knowing your child -- your child's body -- is lying somewhere, back there, by herself, in the cold. Feeling as though you are the supreme freak of nature: no one, repeat: no one, has a baby just up and die on them. You are the one. The number 1 on that side of the statistic, 1:whateverthehellbignumber. Your life stops, everyone else's moves on. No one gets you. No one speaks to you. Mothers in Bella's music class literally moved away from me when I told them what happened -- as though it was contagious.

But I'm not sure I felt as alone as I did a year ago on that December morning, knowing that people were deserting us, they were jumping off the ship. Up until now, the loneliness had been about me and my grief, and since I walked a fine line between wanting some acknowledgment for my state of shittiness and wanting to be left the hell alone, I let a lot of it go. But this was different. They weren't just giving us the heave-ho, they were screaming very loudly while deploying their life-vests: your daughter doesn't matter. She is not worth it. She is not even fucking worth a few hours of discomfort (and since when is a chilly night outside in December for an hour followed by hot chocolate uncomfortable? Do people not carol anymore?).

Alone.

But.

Before having these people give us the supreme fuck you, I had told my new friends in the computer -- the ones who understood because they were freaks and "1"'s just like me -- that I wanted to carry their children's names with me to the ceremony. I thought it would spread the load so to speak, and make my grief more diffuse and bearable. What they did, on the cold night, as I choked back tears of grief and anger, and clutched a plastic baggy containing a few dozens scraps of paper with names written on them, was made me less lonely.

I have learned not to expect anything, because things -- even memorial services -- will turn out differently than I imagined. This year, my aunt and uncle, without us initiating anything, asked if they could join us again. My FIL has remained comfortably dumb. And we will go, Mr. ABF, Bella, and I, and I hope again, my scraps. My names. Your names.

I would hate to forget anyone and this year I'm quite likely to, so please, leave me a comment and include the name of the child or children you'd like me to carry with me this Sunday. I will happily carry initials or "blogsafe" names. If you'd like me to carry a real name that you aren't public with, please email me, TashABF at gmail. They'll join the pile I already have going. When I come home, as per last year, they'll go into a bowl and I'll light a candle next to them every night until they get overwhelmed by Christmas paraphernalia. And then they'll get wrapped up and saved for next year.

Names. They matter. They're worth it. They help me. And this Sunday I want to honor all of the dead children I know.

42 comments:

Mrs. Spit said...

I'm sorry Tash. Ours is next week.

Gabriel.

yummysushipajamas said...

This is beautiful, and I am thinking about doing something similar in memory of Aodin around Christmas this year.

Thank you for remembering us all. You are always in my thoughts.

janis said...

I am sorry about your FIL... some people just can't deal. Cowards. *spits in sand*
This post, is it your writing, is it you, is it your loneliness... I dunno, but it made me tear up, terribly.
It's a beautiful thing you're doing, heart-wrenching beautiful, and I wish you didn't have to do it, goddamnit!
I will be lighting a candle on Sunday, and whispering names too. xoxo

Alexa said...

Thank you for doing this. I would love it if you would carry Ames' name with you.

catherine said...

Your pain and words have helped me see what the parents at work (I work in an NICU) are feeling. Thank you. I think you have made me be a better nurse.

I don't think that I could give you names and dare forget one of the precious ones we lost.

What you do for these other mothers and children amazes me.

G Love said...

My cousin, Mary Beth. Gone at 7 years old, she would be 19 now.

Her mother's name is Beth.

Beautiful Mess said...

What a beautiful way to honor the children and their loved ones. I'm praying for you and your family and sending you hugs.
-D

Catherine said...

You are so kind and thoughtful. And I hope you feel the love of the blogosphere surrounding you during your remembrance. I would be honored if you would remember Alex and Travis. They get forgotten a lot these days and it breaks my heart a little more each time I have to remind someone that they still matter to me.

k@lakly said...

Ugh. I want to take a big stick to the in laws...but that would be too easy and they still wouldn't get it.

Thank you for being there for all of our children. And making sure that they are remembered. It's hard enough to do it just for your own child, much less to carry so many others too.

It means a lot to me, my family and to our Caleb.

xxoo

niobe said...

You're a lot braver than I am. There is no way I could force myself to go to a memorial service.

But what a lovely thing you're doing for all those parents who want their children's names remembered.

Anonymous said...

please carry

charlotte may mcdonald

owen ryan cliche

thank you.

Julia said...

First off, I'd like to put your FIL, the moms from the music class and, possibly, that dumbass Dear Abby into the same room and talk to them for a while about sacred things and human behavior. Or maybe just kick them repeatedly in the shins (cause it's clear none of them have balls). Hard.

I think you have A's full name from last year. Could you please add Daniel, Talia Mae, M and I's baby girl, and Yuliya? Their parents don't hang around these parts, but it would bring me comfort thinking of their scraps hanging with all of ours...

loribeth said...

Our memorial candlelighting was last night (I hope to blog about it tonight). There is such comfort in the company of other deadbabymoms & dads, online & in real life. I'm sorry that your inlaws can't be that support for you. :(

I would be honoured to have Katie's name among your scraps. : )

Which Box said...

If my inlaws weren't the shits they are, Ithink I'd seriously have trouble comprehending your father in law's behavior. Sadly though I totally get it.

When do the "it's not about you, asshole!" t-shirts arrive???

Sophie said...

My parents are revealing themselves to be dumbasses to. Apparently Jordan's birthday is meant to be a happy day and I'm not allowed to be sad. Guess I won't be spending it with them then.

Could you please carry Jordan Faraday? Thankyou.

Coggy said...

*Sigh* I'm sorry too Tash. Definitely for me it still feels like the loneliest thing in the world at times, even with all you lot out here.

Please add Jacob's name. It would really mean me a lot to me.

I haven't managed to pluck up the courage to go to a memorial service yet. I'm still not ready.

Hope's Mama said...

You obviously didn't carry my Hope with you last year, as she was still safely tucked inside my belly, but if you could carry my Hope with you this year, that would be wonderful.
Sending you so much love Tash. You have a great big heart to be doing this.

Gal aka SuperMommy said...

I will carry Maddy's name with me to our ceremony at UCSF this year. Thanks for bringing Tikva's name with you... I will think about you. Our event is at 4-7pm PST.

Kaytie said...

I know this is from a long time ago, but if you would, please carry David, my grandmother's son, who died in his crib 51 years ago, and Molly, my best friend's sister, who was born still 25 years ago.

Their mothers still carry them in their hearts all these years later, and I think they would like to have them there with you and the other babies. They are gone a long time, but not forgotten.

Kymberli said...

Why can't most of the people outside the computer be as good as the ones inside of it?

sweetsalty kate said...

The lying somewhere else in the cold, the supreme freak of nature, the contagiousness... my god, tash. That's exactly what it is.

What you're doing with the names is so thoughtful but I totally understand how it accompanies you, too. When i wore the ceramic heart after Liam died it was almost more a reminder of all the other women who had received one, as well as being a reminder of him. It was a physical link to the only other people who would always understand.

Can you carry Liam with you? I'd love that.
xo

Lollipop Goldstein said...

Could you bring "B" with you? It would mean the world to me.

I think what you're doing is wonderful, Tash.

The Turtle and the Monkey said...

Thank you. I really needed someone to remember my baby. Please carry Noah Michael with you.

I'll be lighting a candle along with you.

kari said...

this post made me cry, and i don't cry so much anymore three years out. would you carry my first daughter's name? it's melanie. thank you.

Lara said...

Tash,
I stumbled on glow in the woods a few weeks ago. Wow i love all you brave women who write so raw and beautiful. I too have a story and sadness and his name is baby taz. Please Please Please carry his name with you and then I too will not be a freak alone on Sunday night. He was born two years ago September 10th and died the 12th. I have a couple of moms here whose new born boys lived but hours and we call ourselves the deranged moms. Our oldest, Lily who just turned 5 talks about baby taz almost daily and that makes me feel less lonely about loving him and missing him everyday. THanks for letting me cry unlonely tonight.

Love
Lara

Bon said...

less lonely is what the blogosphere has made me, again and again.

i'd be honoured if you took Finn's name with you, Tash.

CLC said...

I would love it if you took Hannah's name with you. God, despite what asses your FIL mothers from the music class are, I still cried when I read your post. It's just so sweet of you to remember all of our children. Thank you.

m said...

Dear Tash, thank you so much. Please carry Jovita and Isobel with you.

Thank you.

Kathy said...

Thank you for doing this Tash. You are awesome! I would love it if you would carry Molly's name with you too. (((HUGS)))

Anonymous said...

Would you mind adding my baby, June ?

thanks

Emily

Michele said...

You're so right. No one gets you. No one...

If you would carry our sweethearts, even if just in your heart, that would be so sweet: Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander...

Lindsay said...

Could you please carry Alex and Kenneth with you? I would love someone to remember them at a time when it seems so easy for others to think we've just moved on- as if we'll forget that they were even here.

Thank you for your exquisite post.

Beth said...

June Katherine.

Thank you, Tash. for this post, for making me cry just now, for remembering us all.

Anonymous said...

I have lurked for more than a year but have never commented before. I would feel so blessed if you would carry my baby girl's name with you. Her name is Mary Elizabeth. My oldest son mentions her frequently, like a previous poster's child does. Whenever people see me out with my three boys people always say something about us only having boys. My oldest (5) says,"I had a sister but she died." People either look shocked or tell me about their own baby who died. The latter is more often than I would have ever imagined.

-E

Anonymous said...

Oh, yeah, and I had a coworker say to me a few months after I lost my daughter,"You're still upset about that?" So I surely know about people and their insensitive comments.

-E

Heather said...

Isobel.

Her name was Isobel.

Thank you.

Princess Jo said...

There is a Gabriel here, too.

I don't know for sure it was a boy (it was early: around the 1 month mark), but I think in my heart it was. A beautiful month in which I lived in ignorance, but which I will never forget.

Too early gone...

Thankyou very much.
Jo

charmedgirl said...

i remember reading your post last year and sitting here, crying and sobbing like a total ass because i saw paige's name.

names... what is it about them? i don't know why, but i think about paige's name on a slip of paper wrapped up in your house all year and feel...something.

there are actually people who think she was important...even still.

good luck today, tash.

Kristin (kekis) said...

It's amazing to me how, through your pain, you can realize that there are others out there too. While my three babies never grew to get a name, knowing that Baby H #1, #2, and #3 might be remembered by someone besides me would mean so much right now.

And please take an umbrella with you. It might rain, and (ahem) someone might need it. Just be selfish, don't share it, and smile if your FIL gets wet. C'mon . . . do it for me. :)

Alice said...

I've heard some cracking stories about really crap ways that people behave in the aftermath of the death of a baby .... And yours is right up there in the league. They couldn't to the service becuase it might rain. What? What? What? That is really unbelievably awful. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. And I'm full of admiration for the way that you're trying to turn this around into something positive. With love, Alice

c. said...

I missed it. I missed it damnit. I hope the names helped. I'll be sure to get Callum's in on-time next year.

Candle flickering on kitchen island as I type. Thinking of you and Maddy mightily. XO.

Sue said...

Thank you for doing this, Tash. I missed this post, and knew I could go to ours.

Just... Thank you.