This is going to go over like a ton of bricks. I'm already gearing up for the horrible comments. A half-gallon container of cookie dough should do the trick. Also, to Snarky Mama and my dear readers who care about my well-being....no worries. I mean it. This post was not sparked by one particular incident, or one specific person. These are thoughts that have been brewing for WEEKS. Seriously, I mean weeks. So, there's no real "back story", I promise. And when I write to "you", I'm being very general.
Before I get started, I want to thank the sweethearts (CleverGirl and Sarah) who nominated me for the "Sisterhood Award", as well as the other mothers of lost babies that I've met through blogging...the ones who see me for the woman and mother I am, and refrain from judgement. You can't imagine how much I appreciate you, and your kind comments. Thank you for understanding that it's acceptable, a good thing even, to find life after loss. I have never met you, but I love you. You know who you are.
The rest of this post is the blog equivalent of skating on thin ice. But, this is my blog. And it's all about unlocking the silence, my silence. Obviously, as I do what I come to this spot to do, there will be those who do not want to hear what I have to say. I feel pretty confident this will be one of those times.
Over the past weeks, I've been thinking a lot about patents. Not the ones you find in the world of inventors and businesses, but other kinds. Patents on grief, patents on Christianity, patents on political opinions, the list goes on and on. I wonder...is it just human nature? This drive to believe we are so unique, to believe our experiences are so unlike anyone else's, that they warrant our holding patents on such things as universal as grief and opinions?
One of the greatest lessons I've learned in my life is that it's unnecessary and thoughtless to compare our pain to that of someone else. What rips your heart to shreds, what suffocates you to near death, will not be the things that hurt the person next to you. No one holds the patent on suffering, and why would anyone want to?
There are some who feel I don't belong in a "circle" of mothers who have lost babies. Why? Because my daughter died 12 years ago. Apparently if she had died 12 days, 12 weeks, or 12 months ago, I would be welcome. Unbelievable.
If you feel that way, I want you to know that I truly understand your grief and anger. If you took the time to read any of my "Posts that Matter", you would quickly see that I was a shattered woman for many years. My heart breaks for you. I am deeply sorry that you are in such agony.
But the fact remains that I am saddened by any exclusion in the world of motherly sorrow and loss. Forget about me. It's unsettling for me to think of any woman in need of healing and support being pushed aside because her loss does not fit certain criteria. It's unfortunate this happens. I've heard from women who have felt the sting of exclusion. Heartbreaking. To insinuate that a person's pain is not raw enough, not recent enough, to warrant her as a woman on a grief journey...it actually makes me feel sick. My grief no longer holds me hostage, and I have found peace and solace, but I will forever be on a journey....just like every woman I know (whether she has buried a child or not). There are countless journeys to be made in this life. Each one is of vast importance to the person doing the travelling.
I will never apologize for the woman I am today. I won't do it. It would be a slap in the face of so many who helped me on my journey...first and foremost, my Savior. But also, my beloved husband (I was so terrible to him, he really could have just walked right on out the door, never looking back) and my precious angel daughter. I often questioned if she even knew me. Now I know she was always there, cheering me on, when I felt utterly alone and wished this life would end.
Come to think of it, to apologize for being the woman I am today, would be a slap in my own face. I did my grief work. It was excruciating and I was pretty sure I might die. But, I did it. No one will take that victory from me, and I won't say I'm sorry for the results.
I greatly admire Dr. Joanne Cacciatore. She wrote this on her blog today: "Elie Wiesel said that 'whosoever survives the test, whatever it may be, must tell his story....that is his duty.' Within that duty, implicitly, is the necessity to help others who also fall into the darkness of the human experience. If no memory remained of our sufferings, how would we tell our story? Would our story really be our story at all?"
So, I tell my story. Do you think I've forgotten how silent that delivery room was? Do you think I have forgotten how it felt when the nurse took my daughter from me. I was crumpled in a helpless, wailing and heaving ball on that hospital bed...there was nothing I could do, I knew my precious child would be spending the night of her birth in a morgue. Do you think I have forgotten how quickly the short time we had with our daughter passed? How I just wanted one more moment with her, just one more? And her funeral? I will always remember that as I left my daughter's grave, I believed I was a miserable failure...unworthy of being called a mother. Do you think that I don't fear the loss of the three children I've had since Victoria? It's the only thing in this life that I'm afraid of. And I find it so terrifying, just the thought makes my chest hurt and leaves me feeling as though I can't breathe. Every time I'm asked how many children I have, or each time we take a family picture, I am painfully aware that someone is missing. Twelve years doesn't erase a thing. The pain just becomes less suffocating, less all-encompassing.
But, there is more to my story than pain and suffering, more to me than hurt and despair. If my unlocked silence brings you nothing positive, please don't read what I have to share. As a mother who has walked the path you now face, I would hope you only do those things that help you find solace. If you don't find it here, just know that I wish you, from the depths of my soul, peace and happiness. You are tremendously blessed to have the blogging world, where you can find other's who are hurting as you are. It's a resource I didn't have when I lost my daughter. I felt that no one around me could really understand. I had to edit most everything that was going on in my head. I won't ever do that again, regardless of how much time has passed since my loss.
I will not apologize for finally choosing to find joy in this life. There will be no apologies for my love of laughter. I will stand as a testament to others who are hurting. You can do this, you will survive. Thankfully, I have come miles and miles. I pray the same for you. Each one of us has paid our dues, in rivers of tears and pieces of broken hearts. And I can guarantee if someone ever tries to push you out of that "circle", the one you never wanted to join in the first place, you'll be hurt too. There is no patent on grief and suffering.
I will not apologize for my political fire. There's a lot wrong in this world. I won't be the woman sitting idly by, watching things unfold before me, as if I have no say in this life. You feel I am too "angry" about politics. Could you explain to me why I shouldn't be? If I'm not mistaken, women wouldn't even have the right to vote if somebody hadn't been "angry" about politics as usual. If people hadn't been "angry" about politics as usual, an infinite number of things in this country would never have been improved upon. And tell me why I shouldn't be angry about politics...my own government feels the agendas of the ACLU, NARAL, and Planned Parenthood are more important than giving me a Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth for my child!
But, you're probably right, I shouldn't be so "angry". Pretending it's not happening, or better yet, just hugging each other and throwing up a peace sign, well that's gonna fix it all. No one holds the patent on political opinions. Just because you disagree with me doesn't make you correct, and vice versa. But, when a group of political activists' opinions on the "legal status of a fetus" outweigh opportunities for grieving parents to be issued certificates for their babies, you can bet I'm gonna go with "angry".
I have every intention of raising this country's awareness of stillbirth and the issues surrounding such loss. I want to be involved in changing the way we view death and mourning. Those of us who have experienced stillbirth know all to well the silence. I am not speaking only of the silence of deliveries. I am speaking of the silence we find as we make our attempts at redifining our lives after loss. The silence I know pains so many mothers and fathers. I will work until my own death to make certain the silence surrounding stillbirth is unlocked. There are many others working to do the same. Carly is truly a treasure. Her sweet spirit touches thousands upon thousands. I have thought how I wish I were more like her. You visit her blog, learn about her projects, and you will only feel uplifted. She is amazing. I am not. Carly has a gift that I don't have. I am in awe of her. She accepts me, snark and all. That isn't to say she agrees with all that I write. But, Carly has helped me realize that each of us plays a very individualized role in unlocking the silence of stillbirth and baby loss. Thank you Carly.
If you knew me you would know that I'm actually quite enjoyable to be around. There are certain issues that cause me to feel angry, but they do not dominate my life. I understand that you feel anger dominating a life is ok, as long as that anger is due to grief. Since my anger is directed politically, you make the incorrect judgement that I'm an angry person.
Lately I've noticed the word snarky getting a bad rap. You choose to believe that because I happen to get a happy kick out of a good dose of sarcasm and snarkiness, that I'm incapable of compassion and that I'm intentionally controversial. Ridiculous. Guess I'm a bit of an oddball...I find sarcasm and snarkiness entertaining. You don't? Whatever. Bite me. (fyi: that was just a little snarky joke, and shouldn't be used against me in your quest to label me as an angry elf)
I guess the bottom line is that I'm just really not going anywhere. This is me, in my spot, doin' what I do. Love me or leave me, that's the beauty of the blog. I'm happy. I love my life, even with all of its unsolicited adventures and stresses. I have a wonderful husband, four precious children, and faith capable of moving every mountain meant to be moved. There are stresses and tears in my home, but it's more often flooded with laughter and good times. I know God lives. I know my Savior lives and loves me. I'm finding joy and peace in my journey, even on the crappiest of days. I hope you can too. Because, there's a ton of joy and peace to go around, especially considering the fact that no one holds the patent on either of them.