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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"Me Too"

Dear Josie,

There was something on my porch today.

Before you died I thought a "Molly Bear" was something illegal.  As it happens, I used to be quite stupid.

In May 2010, Molly Christine was stillborn at 34 weeks gestation.  Her mother, Bridget, was given a bear by a friend, sparking an idea that could only come from the emptiest of arms, the kindest of hearts.

Each "Molly Bear" is specially crafted, and sent to bereaved parents weighing the exact amount as the baby they can no longer hold.  These bears serve to fill a precise void, offering a momentary satisfaction as unique as the bodies departed.  They are beautiful and tragic, morose and unassuming.  But it is not the bear itself that gets me, nor is it the weight that brings me to my knees on sunny porches mid-September.  There is something else inside each UPS box, something no scale could ever quantify.

The night we lost you, the only person I called was your father.  He called the rest.  The necessary people.  My people. 

And my people came running.  They came running from comfy February evenings on couches, from weddings and spaghetti dinners.  They ran, reluctantly, from lives forever heavier, forever different, bearing hugs and tears and love.  An overwhelming love that held me through the night, a love that held you in the morning.  A love that has held me since. 

But my lovely people had no words.  There are no words when a baby's heart stops, when a life ends before it gets the chance to begin. 

When they couldn't find your heartbeat, the nurse rubbed my shoulder.  "I'm so sorry".  She lay the Kleenex in my lap, along with my phone.  I stared at it for some time. The silly faces of your father and brother.  The happy, hopeful life I had lived not an hour before slowly fading with the screen.  After a minute I picked it up and I typed a very sad word.  Twelve hours before I would hold you, there it was. 

"Me too."

There were thousands of them, articles and blogs and interviews.  Memorial sites and pictures and campaigns.  There were names.  They were people. 

I read them, as many as the night would allow.  I read for hours as doctors begged me to sleep, my eyes entering worlds I never dreamed I'd be privy to.  I saw what would be before it happened, over and again it play in my mind until I couldn't breathe.   I knew then, that it would the be hardest thing I would ever have to do.  But the women on my screen had more to offer than apologies.   They were telling me that they had sat in this bed, worn this gown.  I knew from their candor that it would be hard.  More importantly, I knew it was possible. 

This bear feels like you.  It is your exact weight, clings to my hip as you would have. It is pink and soft and handmade.  There is no other like it in the world, created by a mother like me.  A mother who dreams of nothing more than that weight in her arms, an eternity of scales unbalanced. 

And when I hold it I can feel all that.  Picture your head on my chest that morning.  I can sense the disappointment and the ache.  I can smell the room, feel the sheets, hear the cries.  I am quite certain that it would be too much,  if I couldn't hear her also. 
Her voice is soft inside the seams.  She is two blocks away.  She is across an ocean.  She spans state lines and continents.  She is on this side of existence and the next.  She is the farthest possible distance from my room.  She is right next to me.

"Me too, " she whispers in my rocking chair.

Indeed, that is all one ever needs to hear.



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