Thursday, April 30, 2015

Meditation Thursdays

One of the great things about working at a university is I have access to many resources.  One of them is a meditation lunch hour sponsored by the Office of Religious Life.  One of my many goals as I am on my journey toward healing is becoming more present.  Meditation is a conscious effort I can take to achieve this.

Being quiet with myself while meditating is scary because I plunge into the depth of my soul and I enter a black hole that I don’t know how to climb out of.  There is such deepness to my love for Quinn and therefore to my grief.  To the guided question, “how is your body feeling?” my internal reply is “heavy.”  “Burdened.”  To just “be” in those moments of meditation are hard.  To quiet the noise that clutters my day and to let the distractions flutter away.  What is left?  A heavy, burdened me. 

To be with my body that aches deeply for her.  To be with my heart that longs for her.  To be with my mind that dreams of her.  To just “be.”  Present.  Here.  To be here and for her not to be here.  To have so much love for her that I feel my body hurt.  To be quiet with the same body that killed my daughter.  To be one with my breath that she never got a chance to take. 

To climb out from the depth of my soul, open my eyes, and return to the buzz of life. 


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Beat the grief

After a recent experience that left me feeling like I was regressing with my healing journey instead of progressing, I decided it’s time to go all in.  Lately I have felt the grief tugging at my marriage and that was enough to quickly sober me. 

I often feel the grief creep in and start to slowly overcome me.  It affects my relationships with other people, unfortunately including my husband.  First it enters my heart, then it spreads to my mind, and then it extends through all appendages until it has triumphed by conquering me.  No more. 

I am dedicating this page to beating the grief.  Over time, I will explore how I can be aware of my grief and hold it in a healthy way.  I’m done with it taking over, blinding me, and tugging at the relationships that I hold so dearly in my life.  How will I gain awareness of my grief and let it be in my life in a healthy way?  I’m not sure yet.  Yoga?  Probably.  Meditation?  Already started.  Writing?  It’s my lifeline.  Running?  Couldn’t survive without it.  What else will help?

Start calling me a healing junky because I am going all in.  I hope this awareness brings me to a better place. 

4/25/15 – Soul Run
I knew running would be a good place to start my “beat the grief” movement.  It is the only place where I feel like I can be with my grief in a healthy way.  I can stomp and slap the pavement as a physical release of it.  The grief can come into my body and swirl around, but I can fight it.  Instead of it settling on my heart and mind, I can stomp it, hit it, and make it storm away.  After I have conquered the battle, I have the space in my body to let beauty and love into my heart and mind.

Aside from breaks while pregnant, I have been a runner for several years.  The old me usually goes on a calculated run through neighborhoods and on sidewalks.  The new me – the me that was birthed today to beat the grief – goes on soul runs.  These are runs that let our marvelous Mother Nature fill my soul with beauty and quiet.  Quinn taught me that life is short, and there is no better day than today to go on my soul run.  Why save it for perfect weather or a special occasion?  Today is the day.  Today is the day to beat the grief. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bathroom encounter

It is a half-mile walk from the garage at my work to my office and I’m on the second floor of my building.  After the doctor advised me to “restrict my activity” to due a short cervix measurement while pregnant with Quinn, I took the shuttle bus up to my office.  I then took the elevator to my office on the second floor.  I got to know my elevator-mates very well as there was no bathroom on my floor and I had to take the elevator to another floor quite often.  I frequently ran into the same people during my shuttle and elevator escapades.  These acquaintances met me when my belly was just starting to pop out and they watched it grow until I left for maternity leave.  They were there to let me on the bus first or hold the door for me when I walked into my building.  I didn’t know them aside from my shuttle and elevator rituals, but they were so kind. 

Now un-pregnant, I look forward to the half-mile walk to my office and the treks up and down stairs to the bathroom.  Today, I went down to the first floor to find the bathrooms all occupied so I welcomed the opportunity to bounce up to the 3rd floor.  I entered, and both stalls were in use.  A moment later, a woman exits a stall.  We make eye contact and I recognize her – it’s one of my shuttle and elevator buddies.  The last time I saw her, we were on the elevator and she was congratulating me on my forthcoming bundle of joy and wishing me well on maternity leave. 

In the split second before we spoke, I searched her face to see if she knew.  I could instantly tell by the joyous and hopeful expression on her face that she didn’t.  I am so used to look of knowing – the pursed lips, tilted head, and big eyes.  It’s the look that they know.  Her innocent and joyful face was so refreshing.  It gave me a moment of clarity and for that second I relished in the “what should have been” feeling.  Then I heard the words.  “How’s the baby?!”  Her eyebrows were raised, her eyes were sparkly, and her smile was brimming. 

I rehearsed this a thousand times in my head.  I predicted this encounter and I was waiting for it to happen.  However, I didn’t think it would happen in the unfortunate location of a cramped bathroom stall with someone eavesdropping in the other stall.  My heart thudded and I could hear the blood passing through my ears.  What should I say?  This wasn’t an appropriate place…and someone else was listening.  “Well, actually…she passed away.”  There.  I said it.  How could I not?  Her face dropped.  I literally saw all the hope and joy drain away from her face.  Her eyebrows flattened and her mouth pursued.  Yes, that’s better…that’s the look I’m so used to seeing.  I could tell she immediately regretted asking the question.  My response was not fair to her.  She was being kind and I shattered her.  She stuttered “sorry” and immediately changed the subject.  It’s funny that no one ever asks me how she died.  Ever.  I wish they did because then they would know her better.

Oh how I wish her question had a different answer.  How I wish I didn’t need to cause her the regret of asking such an innocent question and create the subsequent awkwardness.  I entered the stall and proceeded very slowly to see if the person next to me would come out first.  However, she hid in her stall until I left.  I don’t blame her.  I would have probably done the same thing.  Who wouldn’t avoid this encounter?  I left the bathroom exhausted by the emotional roller-coaster of the last 3 minutes.  I felt as though I had the wind knocked out of me and I needed to catch my breath. 

This is my story.  I have two daughters: one alive and one dead.  If you are brave enough to ask about me then I hope you are brave enough to hear the answer. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015


I don’t run because I like it or I want to.  I run because I have to. 

Running is the one place where I have control.  It’s predicable: there’s a path, a starting location, an ending location, a route, and a pace.  This control I have while running is comforting as opposed to my life, which feels so out of control.  Last night, I had a dream that I was trapped in an elevator.  It was going up and up, and I couldn’t stop it.  Just as it crashed through the roof and the moment that I was supposed to die, I woke up. 

That dream perfectly describes my life and the journey I’m on.  Life, for me, was once predictable, like an elevator.  You get on, push the floor number, and it stops to let you out on that floor.  Now, I feel trapped in a world where I don’t have control.  What once was predicable is now unpredictable.  Before Quinn, I took comfort in the precautions I took in raising R.  I took certain actions because I knew they would help keep R safe, and I honestly believed it.  I did not giver her a bumper, blanket, or lovie to sleep with because I tried to protect her from SIDS.  I always put her to sleep on her back and took her to the doctor at the first sign of a potential illness.  I used to believe that these precautions would keep her safe.  

Now, however, I live in fear that tragedy is lurking around the corner.  I know that I can take every precaution possible but it still may not protect R, Josh, or me.  With Quinn, I took every single precaution with my pregnancy.  I mean I did everything - I lived my life by the word of the doctors.  They put me on 3 days bed rest after a bleed, and I took it seriously.  I was on “restricted activity” for a good portion of my 2nd and 3rd trimesters, and that was my main mission.  What good did that do?  My beloved died.  I can dedicate my life to protecting my kids but ultimately, I don’t have control.  It feels like an elevator catapulting into the sky.  I can press all the buttons, but there is nothing I can do to make the elevator stop.  I’m stuck and helpless, and there’s nothing I can do.

I get a moment of reprieve from the elevator when I’m running.  It’s the one place where grief can start to creep in, but where I can grit my teeth, run faster and faster, and beat it.  I can break free from the chains it tries to put around me and push it away by pushing harder and harder into the pavement. 

It’s the one place where I can win and the elevator doesn’t. 


Thursday, April 16, 2015

2 months

2 months - time has slowed down.  It seems like it has been longer than that.  Being pregnant seems like a fantasy that existed long ago.  It's like a ghost of myself lived in an alternate universe, grew a baby for 40 long weeks, gave birth, then my ghost-self and the baby both disappeared...vanished in thin air. 

Today, on the two-month anniversary of Quinn’s arrival, I think of the life I should be living with her in the real world.  Today, I should be taking Quinn's 2-month photo, and planning how she would be posed.  This would be a photo that marked the quintessential chubby cheeks of a 2 month old.  My favorite, though, would be her soft, chubby upper arms and biceps.  It's funny how counting time is universally a mom thing – it doesn’t matter if your baby is alive or dead.  For most, proud mama's take a picture of their baby with a marker of the baby's age in months.  This is something I shared with other moms during R's first year, and a monthly tradition that I looked forward to.  So in honor of the 2-month photo of Quinn marking everything perfectly chubby, I post this photo instead.  This is how I now count time: instead of marking months of her life, I count months since her death.  

Over the past two months, I find myself wondering what the bigger tragedy is: for Quinn to die in the only world she knew - without touching her mother's skin, without suckling, or without feeling her mother's embrace.  Or, is the greater tragedy to have experienced my warm embrace, to have felt my undying love, to have gazed into my eyes, and then die?  I am so deeply sad for her that she died in the only world she knew, and never got a chance to feel me wrap my heart around her.

This dilemma brings me back to an essay prompt I answered for the GRE's nearly 10 years ago: Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?  I wonder what my younger self said as a response.  For me now, I have learned it is better to have loved and lost, which makes Quinn's death unbearable.  Did she know our love?  Did she feel it?  Did she love?  Or did she die never knowing love?  Can you feel love without ever experiencing physical touch?  Can you know love when you live in a world by yourself? 

I think this tugs at the root of my grief.  I loved her so much and I was so ready to celebrate her life.  I had all of this love but never got a chance to show it.  I never knew that she knew how much I loved her.  I wish I had a chance to tell her and show her.  She never got a chance to love me.  She never experienced the blessing of feeling love and loving others...or did she?  

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Death changes you

Death changes you.  In fact, it consumes you.  It eats you whole and spits you out leaving you to pick up shattered pieces of your mind, heart, and body.  I’ve been swallowed by death and I’m not who I used to be.  Death is a shadow that is always there and never goes away.  I carry it around because it is my daughter. 

Life and death dance and flirt around each other.  The dark and the light interweave and coexist.  For there is life in death and death in life.  The death of Quinn will always live within me, who lives.  She was created inside of me and died inside of me, and it is through me that she will live. 

I live in a strange world where sorrow and joy constantly intersect.  It is inside the love that I feel the deep sorrow.  It is because of joy that I feel pain.  Even in a moment of joyous bliss, the darkness of death sobers me. 

Death has shaken me to my core and stripped me raw.  I have learned lessons that are both humbling and terrifying.  Life is sacred.  Pregnancy is fragile.  Children are miracles.  The breath we so casually take for granted could slip away when we least expect it, dancing into the air then disappearing.  Death is in the future of all that lives.  We don’t know how closely our life has danced with death.  How many times have we escaped death and not known it? 

Monday, April 6, 2015


Some people carry their babies around in strollers and car seats.  Some carry them on their hip or nuzzled against their chest in a sling.   I carry my baby around in a box.

I am infuriated that this has to be her mode of transportation.  I want to flip over a table or go on a yelling rampage in a crowed place.  I see babies strapped in their strollers enjoying the marvelous sunlight and think of my baby who is at home in a dark stuffy box on my bedroom dresser.

I get so angry that this has happened to our wonderful family.  The family that was once filled with unconditional happiness and now, each moment of joy is haunted by a shadow of darkness.  Each holiday celebration has a pang of hurt.  

I'm mad that R lost her sister.  That I have to raise her carefully treading the lessons of death and loss as she grows up.  Oh yeah...and not screw her up in the process.  

I'm enraged that our family has a hole.  I look at our family picture and see the space where Quinn should be.  It hurts to see complete families' photos.  How would they feel if one person just disappeared from their family portrait?  

My mind is too rational to act on my fits of rage.  After the steam blows through my ears and the urge to punch and throw things passes, I just crumble and melt into a fit of tears. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

My eulogy - A letter to Quinn

Dear Quinn,

Thank you for making me a mother, again.  Being a mom is the world’s greatest gift and I couldn’t be luckier to be a mom of two beautiful girls.  I just wish, sweet Quinn, you didn’t have to leave me so soon. 

Your daddy and I spent one heavenly and glorious day with you.  I felt your weight in my arms and warmth on my chest, you were mine.  You were perfect and so beautiful.  Your skin was so soft, like an angel’s breath.  I watched you, and waited for your little eyes to flutter and your nose to wiggle.

Did you hear me sing to you?  Did you feel me rock you?  Did you feel me kiss you?  Did you feel me nuzzle my nose against yours?  Did you feel my warm tears cover your body?  I held you, put my finger in your hand and waited for your tiny little fingers to squeeze me back.

I will always ache for your angel soft skin against my chest and to smell your smell and your sweet breath.  In my dreams I will look into your eyes and get deeply lost in your gaze. 

I will live every day of the rest of my life for you and your sister, R.  I will celebrate you and honor you.  I am so proud to be your mom.  I will carry you in my heart, forever, until we can one day meet again.

I will always be looking for you, my love.  In the quiet of the mountains, in the brilliant light of a full moon, in the warm breeze of a summer’s night.  For every shooting star, every butterfly that flutters across my path, every chill across my neck, I will wonder if it’s you. 

Quinn, in your 280 days of physical existence on this planet, you taught me lessons that would have otherwise taken a lifetime, or maybe I wouldn’t have ever learned.  You have taught me the love of humanity.  You have showed me the good in other people and I have witnessed, through you sweet Quinn, the kindness that has poured out of the hearts of our family, friends, community, and even strangers.  I am humbled by your lessons, Quinn.  Thank you for allowing me to see and feel the love of those around me.  This is your gift to me Quinn.

Quinn, you are a Wilson and a beloved member of our wacky and silly family.  You will always be with us.  Look around and see the people who were ready to embrace you into the world, who now celebrate and honor you.  I hope you feel their love, as I do.  These are the people that will continue to celebrate your beautiful spirit each and every day. 

Precious Quinn, I hope you feel my love.  You warm my heart and fill my soul.  You are forever mine, baby girl.  I love you and I miss you.