Tuesday, May 16, 2006


So we were watching Shalom in the Home last night (because as hard as we try, we can't seem to stay away from the strange and wonderful assortment of reality TV shows that lurk on TLC and A&E late at night) when something the rabbi said struck me.

He was counseling a woman who'd lost her husband six years earlier. He died in a car accident on their way home from a Valentine's Day date. A car swerved into their lane. He swerved into a pole to protect his wife from the impact, was thrown from the car, and died en route to the hospital. His widow was left with two young girls and an irreparably broken heart.

Which is precisely why she called for help. She needed someone to exorcise the ghost of her husband because she just couldn't let go of him. She was drowning in her sorrow and taking her children with her.

During the course of the show, the rabbi told the widow that she needed to stop looking in the mirror and seeing a tragic figure staring back at her. She needed to stop thinking of herself and her children as a tragic family known solely for the horrible sorrow that touched their lives. He reminded her that they are a beautiful, happy family - two sweet girls and their loving mother - and they need to start living that way.

He was kind, but firm. You can remember, but you simply can't afford to let yourself stand still, mired in your grief and unable to move forward into the new life you've been handed, as bleak and frightening as that new life may be.

It was like hearing the words for the first time. Because I do that - I look in the mirror and I see the mother of a dead baby. I walk around all day wondering who can see my sorrow, as though it oozes from my pores or rises off me like steam. I assume that's all people see when they look at me. I imagine it's the first thing they think of when I wander through their thoughts. I search people's faces for pity and listen to their voices for concern. I measure my responses to make sure they're appropriate coming from someone who has buried a baby.

I am living as a tragic figure. I've let it define me, control me and manipulate me into thinking that's virtually all I am.

But I'm not. I'm more than that. I am.

The sorrow doesn't make me me. I was me long before I even conceived Thomas. A terrible tragedy happened to me, but it didn't create me. It simply changed me, and there's a big difference.

I had a dear, sweet baby boy who I lost. I love him and miss him with every fibre of my being every second of every day, and each time I think of him my heart breaks anew.

But I'm not a tragic figure. I'm a strong woman who survived an unthinkable loss, and every single day I fight with all my might to be happy again and to find the peace I used to know. I've being clawing my way back, all the while thinking that I'm just a pitiful, hopeless, helpless thing. Broken, damaged and useless.

And my God, I'm not. Losing Thomas has changed me forever, but I am not just the sorrow that fills my heart.

I'm still me.


Bronwyn said...

That was beautifully written and a message that I sorely needed to hear right now. You are truly a strong, capable woman and I'm sure Thomas would be very proud of you right now. It's easy to forget sometimes that despite the huge, irreperable hole that the loss of our children has created, it has also left behind some insight into how strong we really are. It's not what we'd want, but it's what we're left with.

Laura said...

Thank you, Kristin. I needed that so badly right now.

Catherine said...

That's what I thought about myself. Now I'm not so sure what's left of me, if anything.

Sherry said...

Once again, you so perfectly described how many of us mothers in mourning feel about the person we are now. Sometimes it's very hard to feel or be anything but a sad, childless mommy. But, obviously, there's so much more to us than that tragic, defining thing, so we can't allow ourselves to be over-shadowed and consumed by our losses.

This was a good dose of reality for me. Thank you - I needed that, too. = )

Sonny Shine said...

I was thinking about you, Meggs, when I wrote my Happy Mother's Day blog posting. I was wishing I had had a Mom of my own when I was growing up, instead of being raised in 8 different foster families. Thomas was taken from you, but I would forever be your "son." Adopt me!--I need a mommy!

stephanie said...

Welcome back, sweetie.

Margaret said...

As someone "on the outside" this is how I see you (even if virtually) - you ARE a strong woman - a strong woman who is kind, and loving and witty, and smart.

I see you as Thomas' Mommy.

I see you as someone I feel privileged to know, and aspire to be like.

I'm glad you see what I see;-)

R said...

Wow. Just, wow. A friend read Catherine's blog and told me I had to come here and see this post. What an inspiration you are. Truly. To be able to realize that - that is HUGE. Not only does it bring joy to your life, it brings honor and meaning to Thomas'. By joy I don't mean happy happy all the time, I mean, a deep, abiding sense of peace that no matter what happens, you are still you.


lauralu said...

i hope you understand that i say this positively, respectfully, encouragingly and sincerely:

you get down with your bad self!

congratulations on your turning point.

Levi's Mommy said...

Very interesting..... I can relate, as I so often see myself as how others must see me -- "That poor woman who has lost her husband and two babies". I don't want to be defined by that, but I am.
I liked reading your thoughts on this; thank you for sharing them!

Nikki said...

Im glad you can see what so many of us see in you...a strong woman who shows such strength and courage I wish I had half of what you exude. You are a hero to many and so is Thomas!!! (((HUGS))))

deadbabymama said...

Well said!

kate said...

You said it very well!

A colleage said to me, a few months after losing Nicolas 'i am sure you will not let it define you'. He was right, and wrong too. It does define me -- that i am Nicolas' mother, but it does not define me either. It is forever a part of who i am, but it is not the only part by any means.

Jules2pies4me said...

You're one of the strongest women I know. You may THINK you appear to be shattered and worn down but there's strength in there, I see it every time you support someone else and your total selfless joy in another's happiness. You have every right to have your share of sadness and anger, it doesn't make you weak, it makes you human. I can't wait for the day when I can relish in YOUR joy (((Hugs)))