It has been over a year since I watched you from across the Cheney Stadium baseball field at the TEARS foundation annual remembrance walk. You were waddling, balancing a belly about to burst. You were surrounded by loved ones, your husband holding your hand. And you wore the same shirt I did. The names were different on the back of each of ours; my shirt had my baby’s name on it, and your shirt bore the name of your own baby. As you walked, head held high in grief and plain ol’ stubborn Mama Love that won’t ever quit, I watched grief slowly overtake you. You slowed your pace, lowered your head to your hand, grabbing that enormous belly. Before you were completely hunched over, they led you to the side of the track. You grabbed the wall, your husband, kept your hand on your belly, as you wretched. Tears rolled down my face for you, my friend, and I wondered if you were thinking what I had: Lord, don’t let my flood of grief mark this next child. Lord, please give me the strength to survive this. Lord, how will we ever survive this?
I knew then that I would probably never know your name. I knew it wasn’t appropriate for me–a complete stranger–to run across that field that day and throw my arms around you, assure you you would survive, tell you that that baby you carried would provide a joy to temper this unrelenting pain. I wanted to tell you that in time, though you never forget the one you lost, a new normal can be found.
The life of a mother who has buried a child is, at best, twisted bliss. For every joy there is a sadness, for every happiness a haunt. Our bodies yearn for our dead children on holidays and would-have-been milestones, whether we acknowledge those yearnings or not. We are mothers, always.
So, dear friend whose name I do not know, I hope these words find you well with a healthy child in your arms and a life worth braving the pain for. I hope you have begun to see snatches of happy, if just for a moment, filtering through the curtains of your grief. Above all, I pray for a peace that can only come in the knowledge that your child is safe in the arms of God, and will be there to greet you when your eyes close for the last time, many years from now.
God bless you, my friend,