(lyrics) -- I lost you alone
Can you see me now?
To contact Anna:
I cried for her first before I realized I had lost her.† I was in church on the Day of the Dead, and my minister was speaking about how we cannot fully embrace life if we do not also accept death.† I didnít know then that the baby inside me had already died, but somehow I did know, in that knowing that canít express itself in words or even in consciousness.† For the last time for a while to come, I wept.† And later that day, I began to feel the pains.
†† Our lives were busy. My husband, Dan, and I were working full-time jobs and raising our one-year-old son, Jackson, who was in his first year of daycare.† Jackson seemed to be bringing home every virus under the sun and sharing them with me.† My body was tired, my relationship with Dan was growing cold, and I didnít feel present in any aspect of my life, including my pregnancy.† By the time I lost the baby, I was suffering from as yet undiagnosed pneumonia and pleurisy.
††††††††††††††† Dan was sympathetic, but he didnít seem to want to talk about it.† I left phone messages when I knew they weren't home for the two colleagues from work who knew I was expecting.† I didnít want to talk about it.† And yet I desperately needed to talk about it, to understand why, to be able to cry, and to feel.† But itís difficult to talk to people about a miscarriage, since they often donít recognize it as a ďbabyĒ and thus donít give credence to the grief and pain a parent is feeling.† In the weeks that followed, I searched for information on the Internet and in the library, trying to find out why I had lost her, whether or not what I was feeling was normal, and how I could heal from this.† I found some medical information which answered some questions, but almost no information about the emotional or psychological response to miscarriage.† I talked to my mother, who had also lost a baby years ago.† I sought therapy on my own, and I filled a journal with my confusion, anger, shame, feelings of inadequacy, and, finally, my sorrow.† That is when I decided I needed to create a ceremony that honored our babyís soul, and that is when I sought the creative and loving talent of Anne Huckabee Tull.†
††††††††††††††† I knew Anna from my years of living in Boston, and I knew she wrote commissioned songs.† I had always wanted to commission a song one dayóperhaps for my son or my husbandóbut I realized that now the song I needed was for our baby girl.† I needed some way to allow her spirit to live on in the world.† I also decided to plant some flowers for her in my gardenósomething perennial that would bloom each year at the time when she would have been born.† I chose daphnes, a shrub with delicate pink flowers that bloom in June.
††††††††††††††† Before meeting Anna for our interview, I sat in a little coffee shop writing in my journal.† I needed to write not about our baby but to our baby. Hereís a little of what I wrote:
††††††††††††††† I havenít forgotten you, my little lost baby who left too soon, too soon to get to know you, too soon for you to know I could have been a wonderful mother to you.† I have a heart so full of love, but my heart has been clouded this year, not open like you needed.† My body was weak, my chest full of germs and grief, my heart heavy.† The house was not ready for you; my house, this body, was not ready for you. My arms were not open and waiting, but full of papers to grade and books to read, little boyís hands to hold and diapers to change.† My hands were too full, my head too full, my life too busy to get to know you.† You were there, growing inside me, but I barely knew, barely recognized you or remembered you were there.† I hadnít even begun to plan for you, too busy with my own plans.† I didnít talk to you, too busy talking to other people, trying to help my little boy talk, my little boy who still needed too much of me to give anymore to another baby.† You invited me to lie down, but I ignored you, refused to rest, to pause, to stop, to listen.† I never cried until I knew you were leavingóuntil you decided you were not welcome, that we werenít ready, that our house was too cold, our hands too full.† I am ready now, and so is your father.† Our hands are not so full, our hearts are open and unencumbered by grief and misunderstandings, our house is full of light, my body is strong, and my little boy is able to speak his words.† Why do I need to remember youóyou who were not, you who will always be just a possibility?† Because I lost a part of me, blood of my blood, flesh of my flesh, soul of my soul . . .
Many of the lyrics of the song Anna composed for us came right from that journal entry and our interview, and the song is indeed a song to a little soul gone too soon.† The song is quiet, haunting, and yet powerfully beautiful and personal.† The week after I met with Anna, Dan and I went to a weekend retreat sponsored by the Catholic Church called Marriage Encounter, a program intended to deepen the marital relationship through improved communication.† We attended, even though we werenít Catholic, because we felt it would help us at such a difficult time in our lives.† We were both dealing with this loss so differently.† It was during that retreat that we had so many important discussions, one of which was about the miscarriage.† I read Dan that last journal entry, and when I looked up, he was crying. Dan told me that he hadnít wanted to think of it as a babyóthat he didnít want to think we had lost our baby, but when he heard the words I had written, he saw it from a different perspective.† Dan shared, ďI canít handle losing a baby. I didnít want to lose our baby.Ē† And we cried and held each other.† I was able to tell him all of the things I wanted to tell him when I felt so alone and how much I needed him during that time, and he apologized for denying his own feelings and not being there for me.† Dan also shared with me that his mother had a miscarriage and the family always talked about baby Michael as if he had been born and lived, like any other member of the family.† We decided we should name our baby, too.† He suggested Esther to honor the sister his mother lost, and I selected AnaÔs, after a French author who is most famous for her diaries in which she recorded her own experience losing a baby over 60 years ago.† That moment erased all the hurt and resentment of the previous months.
†††††††††††††††And so in June, Dan,Jackson, and I memorialized Esther AnaÔstogether by planting the daphnes in our garden and playing her song,The Blessing.† Just a few months later, I found out I was pregnant with my second son, Jake, who has brought light and joy to our lives.† My sons and I have extended the garden in which the daphnes grow and turned it into a fairy garden which now also contains the ashes of our beloved golden retriever.† Itís a place where we honor Esther AnaÔs and watch our love grow.† Itís a place where our babyís memory lives onówhere our love lives on.
††††††††††††††† The song has also taken on a life of its own.† Iíve sent it to my mother, to both of my sisters who also lost babies, to friends and friends of friends, and to their mothers and sisters.† Also so meaningful to me are the emails Anna forwards to me where my story and The Blessing touch women Iíve never metówomen who now know that they arenít alone.† And so, Esther AnaÔs Rabold is our blessing, reminding us that we are never alone.