Somedays, I am overflowing with words. I write until my soul feels rested. But other days, the pen barely touches the paper before my mind closes – I have no words for how we feel, no stories I feel need to be shared. The truth is, I write about our experience because it heals me – but I do not owe anyone a personal look into our lives. No one is owed the deep details, no one has a right to use our pain and the beauty in our lives against me. And yet, each time, there is always that one. The one person who feels they have the right to pry into my soul and try to unearth those feelings that I have not shared. This is a reminder to all: we are allowed privacy. Just because I choose to write about us, does not give anyone the right to our deepest thoughts or feelings – nor does it entitle anyone to believe I owe this to them. This is our truth. It is our life, sometimes beautiful, sometimes painful – but it is ours. And I will share only what I choose to. Nothing more: I do not owe you anything. I write solely for my own desire to heal, and to share with those who may relate or may be walking down this road behind us.
“Remember: your words can plant gardens, or burn whole forests down” – Emma Troy
There is something silently beautiful about this art form. The way words can become an inexhaustible source of magic, of healing, or truth. Sometimes, being a writer is both a blessing and a curse – with so many intricate ways to describe events and feelings, it becomes difficult at times to even express oneself. But never in my life have my own words betrayed me, they have never made the task of navigating through life more difficult- just sometimes harder to explain.
I have been holding my breath for what feels like eternity. The bubbling anxiety that I hold just below the surface catches in my throat at times, overwhelms me to the core. I have been holding my breath – waiting for the other shoe to drop – waiting for the pain, for someone or something to snatch away the happiness we have created. But it hasn’t come. Instead, we continue to move forward together. We continue to tackle each day, and each obstacle with the love in our hearts that has carried us here. Today, Charlotte is 6 months & 19 days old. And it has taken me time to finally look back on these months together. To reflect on the joy and gift it is to be here, with her. To watch her grown, to help her experience the beauty that this world has to offer.
“She was not fragile like a flower. No. She was fragile like a bomb”
Our second child is officially older than her sister. Older than our first. We stand at the foot of a glorious mountain, overlooking all the possibilities that may be in store – and I take a breath. For what feels like the first time in months, I exhale – not out of serenity, but more out of necessity. We have made it past the beginning of the end. We have stepped out of the shadows, still broken, but willing to believe that good may still come. You see, there is something that changes inside you when you have a child. I don’t know if it’s hope, a streak of optimism, or just the fact that you hold your heart in your arms, but something changes. Things change even more so when you lose a child. We will never be the same people we were before – nor should we be. It has taught us to be present, to love unconditionally, to hold each moment close. But it has also taught us to be vigilant. To be standing at the ready, prepared to fight for our lives and what we have built back up from the rubble.
I do not have the luxury of imagining the future. I try and stay here, in this moment, and treat our time with Charlotte as a gift that we are not guaranteed. Because I have to. It is much too easy to look at your children and see the next 50years of their lives – and I have learned not to do that. For once before, they handed me my heart to hold in my arms, and I imagined every occasion, every moment the future could hold – the ability to dream like that was taken from me when Addison was. There is just no way to look ahead to special moments that may not become reality, without becoming fearful that they’ll never exist. So we live here, in these moments. Embracing each joy, each laugh, every tear that may fall. All of it.
It’s easy for others to judge this logic. To tell me how I “should” be handling this. To inform me that I “should be grateful” for every opportunity I have to watch Charlotte grow up… And I am, don’t get me wrong. I view each new day with her as a miracle. But that doesn’t change the glaring absence in our lives. The truth is, there is ALWAYS a hole in our family – someone who was supposed to be here with us, but isn’t. And that doesn’t change, no matter the time that passes – Addison is ALWAYS missing. Each morning, when I wake to Charlotte, I am reminded that there should be two little girls running around our home. It’s unavoidable. It’s not a negative outlook, but rather our reality. I can not remove the truth of our lives to make it more convenient for others. And I won’t. Every instance that I miss her, gives me a moment to remember her as well. Her laugh. Her smile. The wholeness she brought to me. She will always be a part of me, no matter how much time has passed. She will always be the girl who made me a mama. I urge everyone to consider your words carefully when you approach this topic with grieving parents. Before you open your “privileged” mouths to tell me how grateful I should be for Charlotte, for my “living children” – I ask you to take a look at your own children, and tell me which one you could live without. See? Not so easy. I don’t say this to be mean, rather to point out something that is so often said without thought. Just because we carry it well, doesn’t mean it is not heavy. It is a privilege to watch your children grow older – it truly is. And I’m every moment I hear others complain about it, my heart hurts. They don’t realize that watching them grow older is better than not having them grow up at all.
“I don’t pay attention to the world ending. It has ended for me many times, and began again in the morning.” – Nayyirah Waheed
The current state of the world has pushed me further into the wild. Further away from the sharp tongues and wickedness of others, and closer to the Earth. Social media has become a place I avoid, and cannot enter without becoming frustrated by the human race. I loath it. I can no longer mindlessly scroll through to check up on friends as I am never not met by some idiocy, chanting and screaming for things that go against basic human rights. This belief that humans must “earn” their right to be alive, to take up space. The state of the world, and our country maddens me. It hurts my soul to see the evil perpetrated, or to watch humans raised to hate others solely for being different. This is not the world I wish to raise my children in. Where we care so little about the lives of others, where society is focused more on material wealth than on the lives of those who need help. How hate has become the main focus, and I know many will argue this view: but the reality is, there is nothing about the current state of things that isn’t fuelled by hatred and greed. We as humans are the most invasive species on the planet and we will destroy everything for our own gain. Just watch the news. Actually no, don’t watch the news: listen. Listen to the cries of those who are hurting. Who are hated. Who are fighting just for their right to be here. It hurts my soul that somehow we have drifted so far from the things that matter. Some will say that social media is to blame, but in reality: those in power have controlled the media for decades. What they hate about social media is our ability to share information outside their controlled channels. Suddenly we can see and hear that which has been hidden from us. And we don’t like what we see. That’s why there’s a cry for change.
“I plant roots so deeply in the people I love, that I always lose a piece of myself when they go” – Beau Taplin
I believe that people enter our lives for either a reason, a season, or a lifetime. There are few who fall into that lifetime category – few who are willing to sit down and stay for the real. For the mess. For the hurt, and the heartache. Many wish to be present for the highlight reels, but disappear when things are ugly, or painful. This has been ever so true in our lives. I only need one hand to acknowledge those who stayed when shit got hard. Who continued to be a part of our lives, when we were angry and sad. Who sat right down in our mess and were willing to wait out the storms. You see, most people are uncomfortable with grief. After the acceptable “first two months” I watched as slowly those who couldn’t handle our truth and pain stopped coming around. We did not have the energy or ability to put on a face and hide our truth.
The truth is, losing a child is devastating. Our entire world shattered, and those who couldn’t or wouldn’t accept us exactly as we were that day, slowly got left behind. False friends are those who are willing and ready for the celebratory moments, but disappear when life gets real. We got handed a whole pile of pain – and after the “acceptable” time had passed, people grew tired of our sadness and struggle. As if we should be “better” or fixed. The reality is, you can’t fix child loss. There’s no logic to apply to it. You can’t cry it away, or pray it away, or “snap out of it”. No matter what, our family is always achingly incomplete. Those who backed away from Addison as a topic, who were uncomfortable in the mention of her name, became people we don’t often see. I refuse to allow others discomfort to erase her. Yes, my child died. But she also lived – and that is equally as important. She left a mark on this world, and on our hearts – no matter how brief her time here with us was. She was here.
On Raising a Rainbow 🌈
Charlotte is rolling around on our couch as I write this. Constantly snatching at toys, blankets, the dog – really whatever is in her reach. Her ability to interact with her surroundings has developed exponentially in the past few months, and it is such a privilege to watch her learn and explore. Each moment with her is beautiful (yes, even the three hours of crying she did yesterday) because we get to bear witness to her growth. It is a privilege, raising little humans. A privilege too many take for granted. A privilege to be a part of this little girls journey – you see, we wish not to shape her. Not to influence her to be “what we want” rather let her grow and develop her own loves and interests. To bear witness to her strength. There is nothing I don’t love about being mama. About being the guide on this journey of discovery, of love, of beauty. We only wish to raise children who are in love with the Earth, and gentle to its’ creatures. Who will grow up believing in the beauty of their own magic.
“You cannot raise your children like your parents raised you, because they raised you for a world that no longer exists”
The world is different now than it has ever been. It becomes harder and harder to do what is best for your children and family without the rest of the world’s criticism. Each time I bring my child into a store, I am criticized for not caring for her health and safety, and yet, each time I leave her sleeping in the car (AC on and locked obviously) I am scolded for not caring for her health and safety. There is no way to win in the eyes of judgement. This is why we have stepped back. I still share updates of Charlotte, but am incredibly selective of those who get to have time and influence on her. We wish not for those who wish to shower her in presents and useless plastic crap that will sit forgotten – we wish for those who wish to share their presence with her. To share their experience, to spend time with her rather than money on material things. We wish to raise her in a way that allows her to create, to explore, and to be loved. Time matters much more to us than things do. We have had a beautiful six months. Filled with laughter and tears, we now enter into a string of “firsts” that we never had the privilege of experiencing with Addison. It is a strange feeling to be experiencing firsts, when Charlotte is our second child. It hurts my heart somedays when I think of all the little moments that Addison never got to have – like crawling, walking, popping teeth. I often imagine how it would have felt to hear her say “Mama”. But I know that she is always with me. Every minute, of everyday- she is a part of my heart and nothing can take that away.
Charlotte loves to stand on her own now – fiercely stubborn, but easily frustrated when she tries to crawl forwards and ends up moving backwards. We watch as she interacts with our furry friends in amazement – the connection they have. Our overexcited boxer Pyper, who moves slowly and calmly as she plays with Charlotte. Our cat(dog) Tucker, who sits patiently and allows her to “pet” aka grab him. They seem to understand that she is small. And they protect her, and love her. It is beautiful to watch. She crawls, plays, laughs, and smiles. Already you see her determination and fierce love shine through. And I know, we have a beautiful angel watching over her too.
“To lose a child, is to be haunted with a lifetime of wonder. And to be a good mother, while a large part of me is breaking, is one of the hardest roles I have ever had to play. The truth is, I will never understand the why – there isn’t one. I carried you before I held you, and I will carry you still. All my love, today, tomorrow, and forever”