Carly Marie wrote this beautiful and oh so powerful article at Still Standing Magazine. It struck me deeply, I have been thinking about it since I read it. Parts of it I am struggling with, parts of it I still don’t understand. I’m not sure if the article made me feel liberated or stuck. Maybe it didn’t make me feel either, maybe it was thought provoking but it was about her – her voice and the way she is different.
Carly hears her precious Christian whispering, “Let me go, Mama.” That part sent me spinning down into greyness. Coincidentally (or not) the very day Carly wrote that I had been to see my ethiotherapist, that beautiful woman who works with kinesiology and Chinese Medicine and tends to kick my butt. She mentioned that I had to let Luna go. That love, real, good and generous love sets us free, doesn’t try to tie the beloved down, but gives her wings, lets her spread her wings and sets her free. Screw real love, my baby died.
What is this letting go people speak of? Is it about writing less, grieving less, forgetting more? Is it about saying I have two kids instead of three? Is it about admitting I don’t know where the heck her little spirit is, as much as I want it to be in my heart? Is it about accepting that I don’t dream of Luna that much and maybe I won’t and I shouldn’t wish it because she needs to be free? Screw it, my baby died.
I am her mother and she is dead. How much more can I let go? Maybe Luna died but I never did let go. I didn’t “let her” die, she just did. But I am her mother, it is in my nature to want to hold on to her, to always be here for her. Oh, those two things are different. I can let her go and always be here when she needs to come to me. It is just too hard to comprehend the middle ground when it involves my dead child. My living children, I somewhat get it: they go off, do their thing, when they need mamá, here I am. How does that go, exactly, with death? Maybe I’ll know when I’m there. Which is not now. Because even when I think I didn’t wake up thinking of Luna, I realize I had her in my thoughts all along, just not in words. And from where I stand, I think if that didn’t happen I would be so sad and so so lost.
And as for angels and rainbow babies? The term angel, it’s just not for me. My baby was a girl, a person. she didn’t “get her wings” and she is not with god. Mostly because I don’t personally believe in god, and if even if I did I might still want my own daughter to be a person and stick around. I liked a bereavement page on facebook at one point, until someone posted a picture of Jesus (the really good looking, sexy bearded Jesus that is as close to conversion as I ever get) receiving a baby. The caption was about Jesus taking the baby and loving him in heaven or some such. It broke my heart to pieces, this Jesus adopting a baby that died, a baby that belonged to broken parents. Like the image of a downcast mother handing her bundled up dead babe to an angel, who takes the baby in her arms and will care for her. My atheist mind wants to scream, get your own damn babies! But this is my own rambling, the real point is, as Carly said, calling our babies angles makes them not dead people, which is what they are: real human babies that died, which is terribly unfair and terribly sad and it just happens all the time. I think this idea is important, that calling our dead babies angels dehumanises them. But the real bottom line is, I think, your baby died, if you want to call him an angel, by all means, much love to your little angel. And I will call your baby an angel myself and tell you that at least you have your own little angel looking down at you from heaven (which got said to me, with love and very nice intentions, but I did not much like). Which I guess, at the end of the day, is the real point: our babies are dead, there is no right way to talk about it, no standard words that will make us feel good because our babies died and no matter what you call them it just sucks.
Rainbows? I like the term rainbow. Not everyone gets a rainbow. Yes, I know. We have also been generously gifted by the infertility fairy. Something I don’t talk about too much, but it’s real enough to mean that we might not get a rainbow. It’s still a cute term, though. A little rainbow baby? How cute is that?! Even if you don’t get your own, it doesn’t negate the cuteness. I guess that means Luna was my storm baby. She might well have been one of those powerful tropical storms, with that sweet clear smell that means rain is brewing in the air, then the clouds are so powerfully grey, they are dense and enveloping. And then the rain. The air is still a little warm, but your body is soaked through. And you want to walk and run in this rain, because it is so different and so strong and you just feel so much. It’s breaking you in pieces and you will never feel the warmth of that day, you lost your chance and you will not feel the warm rays of the sun kiss your skin. There will be less kisses, kisses you were oh so very much looking forward to sharing. When the storm passes, everything has changed, your body feels different, and it seems impossible that you will ever be dry again. Getting dry is a humongous effort that sometimes seems too great to undertake. That moment, that powerful moment of being soaked and standing in the rain and feeling it all come down, where everything you hoped for and planned for is taken away and the strength of it all is so much bigger than you… that is real. And on days where the emptiness is deafening, I like to remember just how much I felt, how real it was, to be soaked. When my arms are so empty and there is no sign, no whisper, I like to remember how much I felt during the rain.
I guess that makes my older boys my sunshine children. In a way they are. They are from a time when I didn’t realize how blissfully ignorant I was of how things could turn. From days when big worries were laughable.
I don’t like the terminology. We label ourselves too much. Especially our children. The last thing they need is to grow up with another label attached, defining them, telling them who they are and what is expected of them. They are just children, free to be whomever they are. But sometimes, I do like to get away with dreaming of a little rainbow. Because a rainbow baby, it is just so cute!
As for having deeper conversations that go beyond “I miss my baby”… maybe I’m not ready for that. Maybe time doesn’t heal all wounds, but it transforms. Maybe that’s a good thing, for how long can a heart bleed bleed bleed without emptying out?
I am so happy that Carly was brave enough to start this discussion. I am amazed that we have been talking about this – death and religion and our own children – with so much respect and care. I wish I had never had to know of its existence, but how glad I am for this community of shared love and support! Our babies’ love does some amazing things…