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Tuesday, January 6, 2015


Dear Josie,

I like to think I'm okay.

It has been nearly eleven months since you left me, and I like to think I've accepted everything.  I won't say that I am happy about it, but I have accepted it.

Sometimes though, for no reason in particular I will be driving...or writing on a Promethean Board somewhere, or channeling my inner Michelangelo in a secret, basement, ninja turtle sewer lair and it will hit me.  This horrible, awful thing that happened to me, to my family, will hit me.  And I will feel like collapsing.

Most days I still can't comprehend that this actually occurs, cannot logically accept that babies die and then their mothers must give birth to them.  There are days where I nearly forget how it feels to lie in the most silent of rooms.  Quite honestly, it feels like this happened to a different person entirely.  I guess maybe that's the truest thing to be said of all.

A few weeks ago, when I announced this pregnancy to my students one of them raised her hand.

"Can I ask you something personal?  And you don't have to answer?"  I nodded.

"What happened to her, after she died? I mean like, did she..." her voice trailed off.

Some of the others scoffed at her question, unfinished, but I knew exactly what she wanted to ask me.

"I delivered her."  I answered, no hesitation.  "Just like my son."

Quickly her hands rose, covered the mouth that had bravely asked what no one else could.   Her eyes welled with tears and everyone grew silent, save for a gasp in the back row.

I was grateful for this question, and frankly for their response.  I was thankful that they hadn't considered such a horror, that somewhere, in the deep recesses of their sixteen-year-old minds there was a place you had gone.  Somewhere safe and logical, somewhere easy and removed from my physical involvement.  The place that I had wished for that night.  The place some mother is wishing for right now, as her husband begs the doctors to do something, anything, when he thinks she can't hear him.

It used to scare me too, this incomprehensible, unimaginable circumstance.  It used to be my nightmare, some dark thought I could escape with the right song.  It's a part of me now, that morning.  My biggest fear and my greatest accomplishment, forever both a memory and a possibility.

After class she approached my desk, apologized for the innocence that had prompted such a question.  I shook my head and I hugged her.

I read something once, about the ripple effect.

The article spoke of the effect we have on our children.  It said that children are the ripples of our existence, our impact growing and stretching long after we are gone.  For awhile I resented this piece.  How backwards that analogy seems after losing a child.  How difficult it was to keep afloat, still water for miles around my thrashing, defiant limbs.

But what if this were part of it?  Your lasting effect.  Your legacy. 

What if when they left my classroom, they knew more than the steps of the carbon cycle or the location of ribosomal RNA?  What if they had proof that hope is indestructible?  That even through the darkest of times, one might still stand.

Maybe then they could look back someday, from their own respective tragedies.  Graveside, or from their hospital beds as they feel the pull from underneath, as they consider letting go. 

Maybe then they could remember, let the ripple brush their sides. 

Perhaps that is the lesson, only I could never take the credit.  You see, I have had the very best teacher. 

I am but a student myself.


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