CW: Child Loss
Ten years ago, I had just had my second child, Paul, when I received an email from my cousin.
My cousin Harry was then in the Peace Corps, working in a clinic in a remote village in West Africa. One of her jobs was to help weigh babies. She recorded the measurements in a notebook and encouraged her mother to attend a co-led demonstration on how to make a nutritious porridge if she needed a little boost.
I thought of her over there. She would have gone to her nearest town to access the Internet. I gave birth to her son, Paul, who was full term and stillborn. I was at the beginning of a new life.
It was only when I read her email back then that I realized. Too many people he didn’t know.he will never know sheOne of her lines broke my heart and stuck with me. His arrival weight, final combat weight. I wish she was her. She also taught me how to make porridge.
Along the way, you learn to adjust a little in how you think about your dead child. You don’t move on, but you move. His little life story is well done, but it’s not over yet. There were periods of impossible darkness. joy and heartbreak. Laughter and boring life. From his birth to this day, there is no way to draw a straight line. Even if you were there – you gave birth to him, you held him – sometimes the experience feels incredible. lives in this troubling knot of emotions.
For the first few days after losing him, your anguish was so intense that the only balm you could imagine was the distance, so you only wanted to be washed up into the distant future. But now, ten years later, here you are. I find myself wanting to caress and hug him for a few minutes in his hospital room. Instead, your hands are now tied. You have 10 more years to live and he has to take care of his two children. And then, inexplicably, and eventually, weeks go by without thinking about him at all. And you can’t even explain it.
Shortly after Paul was born, I decided to write a book about this experience. What I didn’t know then was how long it would take, how it would bother me, the 48 hour labor, the struggles and lessons that began with giving birth to him and saying goodbye. It’s about how much the process imitates. I didn’t trust time or myself.
During those years, I felt like I was falling behind. A timer that is always running. But in the past year, I’ve found myself pulling threads and asking questions I used to be afraid to ask. I turned off the timer. I thought the day I met him would be the closest he and I would ever be. He gave me portals, gifts, outlines of shapes, maps for me to understand. My role is to build the rest. He said, you can write me a way back.
I started going back in time, being more proactive, getting more people’s voices in, interviewing and researching. The project has evolved into something richer and more expansive. Part medical mystery, part memoir, part elegy, this strange little book is actually becoming richer and better than mine. Nine, eight, seven years ago, I couldn’t see it. I wasn’t ready.
My cousin Harry got married this summer. At her wedding reception, as I was about to sit down for dinner, my youngest daughter ran up to me. She pulled my dress and said, Paul is at our table! ‘ She smiles to match her enthusiasm, but with some confusion I ask her who Paul is. “Minutes. Dead Paul, our Paul!!” She’s 7 years old and he’s his sister. She took my hand and pulled me to our table. Kate, Jimmy, June, Paul, Diana. The caterer even served him a salad by mistake. I turned around to find my cousin and pulled her to me for her silent embrace.10 years later, this is how points are added to his zodiac sign.At a wedding reception, I unexpectedly found him in sea glass. the name of Empty table seats. The story continues smoothly.
Happy birthday, Paul. Here are the next 10 results.
Kate Suddes I’m trying to break your heart Her writing has appeared in Cup of Jo, Romper, HuffPost, NAILED Magazine, Human Parts, Noteworthy and more. Her work explores sadness and longing in many ways. Kate is currently writing her first book about her stillborn son Paul. She lives in New Haven, Connecticut.you can find her Instagram When twitterif you please.
PS Kate’s first essay on her stillborn son and comments on 17 readers’ grief.
(Photo by Marian Gobble/Stocksey.)