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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Heavy Lifting

Dear Josie,

I had a dream last night.

I was sitting in an office.  I was speaking to a woman.  I don't know who she was.  I don't know where it was.

There had been a stillbirth.  She was telling me about a child, a living brother like you have.  She was telling me how they had explained it to him.  There was a special mailbox at his school.  "Stillbirth boxes."  She told me some schools have several.

They deliver materials to the children.  Little presents and journals, helpful pamphlets to the teachers.  A guide to an understanding.  I thought, how nice.  I don't think my school has one.

I wish my dreams were of you.

One night, not long after losing you, I dreamt that your brother had died.  It was so incredibly real.  Your father woke me up, asking if I was alright.  He said I had been screaming, that it sounded like someone was being murdered.

I told him then, in the dark, that I didn't remember what it was, what I had seen.  This horrible, awful thing that no one wants to acknowledge.  But I do remember.  Every detail.  I remember feeling a panic, the finality hitting me quickly.  I remember being sad but not surprised.  Almost like it was expected.  Even in my subconscious, it never escapes me.

This is who I am now.  The woman who dreams of loss so profound, that all one can do is scream.  The woman who is always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

But do you know who else I am?

Last week I visited your tree for the first time since your due date.  I'm sorry that it took me so long.  I think of it every day, living and growing and stretching and taunting.

There is a group of people I have recently met.  Lovely, incredible people who have shared a loss like mine.  They told me the names of their babies, and I wrote them out.  All thirty eight in colors of orange, yellow, blue, and lavender.  Black and white and pink.  Fingers bleeding existence onto five dollar ribbon.

I took them there, in a plain white box  and I hung them.  One by one in between bouts of rain.  I said each name aloud, and I thought of the mother behind it.  I thought of the love that had brought it to my hands.

Your brother was with me.  Afterwards we threw pennies into a fountain.  He made several wishes, but I only had one.

I wished that every child could outlive its parents.  I wished that no one had to endure what I have.  I wished that backpacks only ever carried books, never ashes of daughters in black boxes, carried by fathers to trees on sunny afternoons in March, dodging joggers on the trail.

I know it's unrealistic.  I have to know that now, but I wished it just the same.  I have always been an optimist.  I guess some things never change.

I can live with that.


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