THE MISSION

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

This Time Of Year

Thanks to all of you for your beautiful words of support as I prepare for next week. I pray I can be articulate IRL without the benefit of a backspace key.

I'm not prepared with Show and Tell this week...so I offer up a "holiday" post.


"This time of year" are four little words that represent pages of emotions and expereiences for us. By us, I mean those of you struggling to get pregnant and those of you who have lost a baby. Or both. We are all united this time of year by the palpable absence of a person from our lives.

Some of us know who we are missing, her hair color, his perfectly formed face, their feet represented for eternity with ink on an upper arm.

Some of us know only that we are missing, someone...anyone... to fill that part of our heart that aches with need.

Regardless of the manner of our longing, we see the holidays through different lenses. Yes, the carols are beautiful and the streets glowing with white lights bring a smile, but there is an edge to our cheer, an awareness deep within that the blissful serenity we once felt on these anticipation filled days is just a cover for what truly matters - the ability to feel complete. When we felt whole, celebrating was easy - but now, when we will never truly be whole again, celebrating takes mental preparation. In the first few years it is a challenge, a task set before us. And even now, eight years after our first holiday season without Emma, I am forced to remind myself, Cara, not everyone sees this the way you do. In fact, not many - when surrounded by sweet treats, wine, cheerful conversation or eggnog, even recall what happened to us, nor do they want to.


"Wow! How your children have grown!" My sister-in-law's mother exclaimed at the Thanksgiving table. Twelve of us sat around the long rectangular table and I beamed, "Yes, they are amazing aren't they?" I replied. "How old are your kids now?" she asked. "Bear is nearly six and The Comedian will be four" And Emma is eight "Thanks for asking" I said.


No. I didn't add Emma in my list of kids, but I wanted to - desperately. But I knew the face that would meet my small four word sentence. In an instant it would have shifted from a light smile matched with responsive nodding to a still face with wide eyes, marked with shock - shock that I was talking about my dead daughter, amazement that I even brought her up.


Why dampen their celebration? I asked myself on Thursday. But why minimize mine? When I said that I was grateful for ALL my children, I meant Emma too. So, I guess the question is which side of the social fence do we want to fall into? It is a choice. We can take the high road and spare others the shock of a non-response, content in the knowledge that we recognize our lost souls. Or, we can say what we mean with pride and love in our hearts, regardless of what our words mean for others.


Thursday, I took the high road, but by default. "Bear is nearly six and The Comedian will be four." I said, and in the briefest of pauses before I could open my mouth and continue, my sister in law opened hers. "Yes." she blurted, most probably aware what I was about to say, "All our kids are in a row. After the New Year they will be 4, 5, 6, and 7." Yes. They are all in a row. I cried from the inside. Emma is 8. They are 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.


My first daughter. The first grandchild. Always left out. Always forgotten.

14 comments:

CLC said...

That breaks my heart to read, as I am sure it broke yours to hear, or in this case not hear. I wonder why this talk makes others so uncomfortable and why no one can acknowledge the children that aren't here, except for us parents. We had a small party on Wed. and many of the guests were seeing our house for the first time. People were generally sweet with the compliments, but at the same time, we kept hearing "you have to fill this house up with children" and I don't know what to say to that. Did they already forget that we have been trying? That we did have a baby last year?

Anyway, sorry to ramble. I am sorry you felt you had to make them feel comfortable and not speak of Emma.

Amy said...

I truly don't believe she is forgotten by them, it's just easier for them not to say anything.

As for me, I will always remember Emma, ALWAYS!

Much love and peace my friend.

Michelle said...

So beautiful and so heart breaking at the same time. I many times want to scream out don't forget about all my angels but I remember them EVERY day! I believe, like Amy said, they are not forgotten but many don't want to bring it up out of fear. But either way we won't forget and in the end that is what truly matters. ((HUGS))

Barbara said...

Emma is remembered in the most important place of all, your heart.

And all of us who read her name will remember your first child with you. As you remember our children with us.

Wishing love an peace at this time of year for you and yours.

MrsSpock said...

The heart won't forget.

wandering mom said...

Beautifully described with grace and understanding. Your thoughts and experiences flow so fluidly. Thank you for sharing them. Is it possible that others cannot understand our realities, not without walking the same heart changing path? I say this not as an excuse for anyone's behavior or limited conversation but as a means for me to try and understand others. My mom recently showed me her new and beautiful "grandmother's ring". Lovely, chosen with care and thoughtfully shown to me, however, there is no stone for my first son- my angel. Heart wrenching as it is for me, she just does not get it. But honestly, would I had I not been taken down this path on my own journey? I am not entirely certain. Blessings for those of us who genuinely share with one another and understand the complexity that life can bring.

Another Dreamer said...

I didn't get a chance to comment yesterday after I read this...

But I wanted to say what a beautiful post this is. It truly resonates with me. Just... truly moving.

Lori said...

I wish there were words to comfort. Since there are not, I will simply abide with you.

And your three children.

The Turtle and the Monkey said...

As time passes, others assume we are "over it" or just afraid to go there. I cringe every time someone asks my mom how many grandchildren she has. I understand the difficulty in the question, but it still breaks my heart to hear her say 5. I want to scream there are 6. I am sorry you felt you couldn't mention Emma.

Hugs.

c. said...

Not sure if I would have taken the high road, though surprisingly I do on occasion. The low road just so sucks sometimes.

Thinking of you and sweet Emma.

Martha said...

Emma Grace is your first born, you and we will always include her, never forget. Big ((Hugs)).

Mrs Woggie said...

Oh sweet heart - I'm so sorry Emma is always left out. That makes me so sad for you and for her. I constantly leave out bits of information too - and then I regret it later because I think why shouldn't they know my pain, my loss. It doesn't deserve to be forgotten. Emma especially doesn't deserve to be forgotten.

Charlotte's Mama said...

Cara,
At this moment, when I was reading, the bottom of this post was aligned with the photo of my little Liam, my SECOND BORN, hanging an ornament on our christmas tree...
and i feel your words leaving my mouth, if i had been sitting at that thanksgiving table i might have spoken them for you, somehow finding the courage that i always lack when someone asks me.
charlotte, too, was the very first-- the top-- and i was crushed that first place has now been stolen from her forever. nobody will remember that when they rank our family, either.
xox
carol

Kathy said...

Here almost a year after you first wrote this post for Blogger Bingo, the category being "to find a post that mentions a meal written between October - December 2008.

I recall having a difficult time with "(that time of year)" in 2008, as we were experiencing our first major holidays with out our baby girl Molly (who had been born/died that previous April).

I also so appreciate your delimea when your SIL's mother asked about your children at the Thanksgiving table. I struggle with such questions often and at times I mention Molly and other times I don't. I always feel a bit guilty when I don't say that she was my 2nd child, instead of the baby girl that we are expecting now.

However, I am not always that brave and I don't always feel like the person I am talking with really wants or needs to know. Though sometimes I still feel like they "should" know or that I have the right to tell them and that I want to honor my daughter's short life and memory.

Maybe in time I will get "stronger" and mention my 2nd child/first daughter more often to those who don't know she exhisted or maybe I won't and I believe that is okay too. I do think it is okay to take it on a case by case basis and to share sometimes and not others.

I also think it is unfortunate that in our society it isn't a given that we would feel comfortable talking more openly about our children that have died with anyone and everyone without fear of making others uncomfortable.

Thank you for your thoughtful post! :)

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