Forebear all hymns, celebratory, solemn, or liturgical
Just wash the stuffed animal
Using sewn-on paws to clutch
a miniature version of herself
To her belly, too big for an ordinary machine, she curls without consent into
The grey plastic washtub
I think, anthropomorphizing
When my children have their birthdays everyone tells them their story–how the delivery went, first memories of the child, what we ate in celebration.
Your mom told me about your birthday. She was in the hospital for a some time before you were delivered because you were a multiple birth. She was so excited about you. You all were delivered (most likely c-section) around 33 weeks old.
You were each tiny and perfect from the beginning.
She was overjoyed by your birth. They told her she would need help since all of you would spend three weeks in the NICU before leaving with three identical apnea monitors. They said they asked your grandmother to help out but she said no.
So they call us. I was young and stupid. The other foster mothers were older women. One had fostered and adopted many children, the other had only your sister and her own grown daughters. They made up lullabies for her.
When we left the hospital together people mistook me for the mother and them for my supporting family. We explained this was not the case.
I did not get to know your mom until they told me they were taking you away. She fought for her parental rights, but the system was well rigged against her.
Sometimes she would call me. She told the most interesting stories. It is these stories I wish I had written down, recorded, preserved for you, best would have been recorded, in her own beautiful voice.
So you could hear them now. So close to her birthday.
Since I lost you I have developed a small bag of tricks to cope with grief. The best of them is prayer, others include running, swimming, mixed martial arts, and writing stuff down. I did not begin to write about grief until I lost the others as well….mostly because others had written about us.
At the time I wrote to judges, elected representatives, functionaries, dignitaries, and Hillary Clinton, and I still lost you.
The other tricks included comfort eating or not eating and pretending that all the cheesy break-up songs in the world were for you and me (because for some strange reason there are none for grieving foster moms, per se)
This is a part one-of-two letter, dearest Little One. Don’t make my mistake, start writing now. It will help a little now and a great deal later.
You have a story, beautiful Rapunzel.
Trying to escape the lie that there was another day that could’ve been–something with more walking, running, skipping perhaps, less pain, which you and I measure in numbers, whole or in pieces, because how could you measure it otherwise? The way you might
Measure a life in years, decades, fractions of things. We are all just fractions of things.
Only from great heights.
All these years the ghosts have always been there, in our carved out hills of refuse, in our streams of once-living
–Federal Judge Has Blocked Texas Fetal Burial Law – NPR–
I struggle with sadness (with good reason). The world is a dark place. Sometimes I will construct bits of words to hold off the sadness, things that are true but cannot fly or sing or curl up in one’s hands. We make words alive all the time–alive to life or alive to death, but not everyone can use words to make the dead rise or the sun, to speak worlds into being.
I know only One who can do that. Word of God, speak us all to life.
Despite my refusal to believe in the ghosts of the dead, stalking the yard, watching from the hill, beneath the trees where we have buried them, it remains the souls of the technically still living who haunt the before-and-after story of the man buried for another
never asking what exactly it is a carpenter does with
the disarray of
rails, posts, and sockets from the busted-in gates of hell