selah, star child

The memory of exhausting  emotion and then throbbing, empty pain is all I have of you, little one. Elation, then suffocation. You were but a wisp of a thing, sliding on through from this world to some other. Stardust to stardust. (I read that this is true for all of us. 93% of our mass is stardust- matter changing form but unchanging in substance across space-time. It is infinitely more hopeful to think of you this way than as a clot of cells contracted out and washed down the toilet in a little basement apartment in toronto.)

Tonight I planted seeds for our little vegetable garden and marveled at the life and nourishment that will come from these tiny pods of possibility. When your life ended you were already much larger than they – the cheerful pregnancy websites say you were the size of a blueberry, with eye color and eye lids and internal organs. We were beginning to be tethered together by our placenta, if I could have held onto you. Oh, all that you could have been if I could have held onto you, dear one.

My inestimable star child. One day my body will be reduced to ashes, scattered or flushed or swept away into this world or some other. Some day, we will be as one. It is not so lonely when I think of this, you and I becoming soil for growing things, life-sustaining molecules ingested by wild creatures who, as Wendell Berry says, “Do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.” Wise ones.

Parenthood has given me fear that I did not expect. I do not fear for you, Selah. I trust you are more where you are than you could be here. This world could not hold you. But the longer it holds your brother and sister and father and I and all those we love, the more I grieve the end. There is a wild and terrifying man and many like him sowing seeds of fear and greed that are already taking root in irreversible ways. What is there to do but sow our own seeds of hope? Of life? Will you nurture them, Selah girl?

I feel the elephant weight of mother’s guilt confessing this, but sometimes I feel the relief of only two children. Even as I carry my grief, you are one less child to worry into the certainty treacherous future. In my lifetime or certainty Rowan and Evelyn’s, there will be water wars and major weather events disrupting growing seasons and floods and the death of marine life and more animals will become endangered before disappearing altogether. I feel powerless. But you are already doing wild life-sustaining work – the bits of star energy of your cells nourishing the ground or water or comprising the very cells of the creatures that struggle along on this beautiful, dying planet.

Thank you for your gift, Selah.

I carry you always in my heart.

You are life.

You are death.

You are neither life nor death, for you straddled the space between.

trees

 

You are stardust.

For more about Selah and our grieving journey, I’ve organized my writing about miscarriage here

 

Advertisements

Selah, like water

 This year on Ash Wednesday I attended a simple and beautiful service at our church, a time for reflecting on the darkness and emptiness that still ravages our world and our hearts. I wept the whole way home and long after, sitting in our driveway as the windows fogged up and the tears flowed, grieving for the first time in a long time for all that is not right and for the daughter we lost and for the ways I fail the children I have.

I am so thankful for these visceral, tangible expressions of faith, practiced together. For ashes smudged on my forehead. For lit candles and gathering together on a chilly night to sing and lament and remember. These rhythms help make real the things that are quickest to slip away in doubts when fears loom large. The experience of grieving Selah is the realest thing I have of her, the most powerful way to remember her. The emotions and longing and ache in my chest, it reminds me that she was. And that I was changed by her.

Today marks 3 years since I miscarried Selah. You can read more about our journey through grief and towards hope here.
_____________________________________________________________________

First-born daughter of mine.

I imagine you
maybe towheaded like your brother
with a mess of curls like your sister
wild life in your eyes and mischief on your mind.

I picture you, big sister
helping and giggling and playing and teaching.
Adoring. Doting. Smooching.

I can see you, sweet girl, proudly reaching milestones before your younger siblings.
Dressing yourself. Potty training. Fetching diapers and pj’s and being just a little bit bossy as you tell them where to sit and not to talk while you ‘read’ them their favorite board books.

But of course, that was not – could not be.
You were and then you were not.
And then, before you could have been ready for this world anyway,
there they were.
Here, in our arms.
And you were not.
And so, in your death you made room for new life.
I wonder, was it because you came first that their budding bundles of cells
could burrow deep enough into my womb? Because you slid right through,
helpless babe being washed out, they could live?

I think I will forever carry the weight of that question.
The weight of all that I could not be for you.

_

Sometimes I think of the mom I would be if I got to mother you first.
Just the two of us, learning to nurse and play and grow together.
Perhaps I would be a bit more patient or calm or creative.
Perhaps I would have found a rhythm sooner. Hosted more. Been a better friend and spouse.
Or, perhaps I would be even more overwhelmed, mothering the miraculous 3 babies conceived 6 months apart.
Perhaps I would feel guilty for all that I could not be for you with two new newborns in my arms.
_

Selah, you were like water.
Flooding us with greatest joy and then deepest sorrow.
Washing all the way through until we were dry again.
No trace of you save for the carved out hollow space in our hearts.

22170265246_4e8ec3e529_o
image here via Unsplash

But see, here is the beauty of it. The beauty of the 3rd year of grief.
Now I see how each hour of grief spent in that space has worn it smooth.
Now I invite others there.
In the space that could not hold you, I can hold others.
When we weep, we widen the walls of this memory-place.
Because in this broken world there is no end to grief, but also no end to love.

The peace I have this year on your birth-and-death day,
it feels like a little arm swung around my shoulders, the way that kids do
when they lean in to tell you a secret or a silly joke
and their breath tickles your ear
and you smell their sweaty hair
and feel something sticky on their fingers
and everything feels safe and whole and true
and there’s nothing else to do but lean in and laugh together.
_

You, dear daughter, wherever you are in the cosmos:
in infinity, in tomorrow.
I hold you in my heart.
You are to me a voice of wisdom and love, little one.
A reminder of the fragility and intensity of life.
A reminder to slow and savor.
A reminder to lean in and laugh.
A reminder to love fiercely and freely.
A reminder that sorrow and hope are meant to be woven together,
hemming us all in as we live with fuller joy.

But I miss you, my love. Oh how I miss you.