Posted by: Louise | February 14, 2011

Love


Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

William Shakespeare

Once upon a time K and I got married. My brother read this sonnet as part of the ceremony. I’m not sure exactly why we chose it, but it seemed to suggest that love was bigger than us, that love wouldn’t necessarily be easy, but it was more than the sum of our parts and would see us through.

And for nine and a half years we ambled along, holding hands, curling up on the sofa at night, producing babies, doing what you do. And then Laura died and in a split second we were upped sticks and moved to another world (although we didn’t really know it then).

There have been lots of silences since Laura died – in this new world.

Her silence – obviously. No baby gurgles. No baby cries. No baby – full stop. The silence of others – Do we mention the whole dead baby thing or don’t we? Do we mention the baby’s name? Do we mention the pregnancy? Do we mention the child birth? My silence – Do I mention the whole dead baby thing or don’t I? Do I mention Laura’s name? LAURA LAURA LAURA (yelling in my head) Do I mention my pregnancy? Do I mention my labour, Laura’s birth?

There have been lots of absent words.

Among those very many absent words have been the words of relationship, of relationship difficulties, of…. HELP. Our daughter died and we need help to come to terms with that, but now, too, we need help to be together in this place. We are both sad, both lost, both lonely and alone in this new place we find ourselves – together.

I have wanted to talk, but it is scary. My daughter died – in me. I failed her. Now my marriage is struggling. I am failing at that too. Maybe I hoped my silence would keep the thoughts from others. If I don’t talk they won’t know the truth. They will be protected from me. Some (most) of my silence was loyalty to K. What will the neighbours think??

But the silence was also the silence of others. I have talked to other bereaved Mums. What we are experiencing is normal, really, really normal. We are not alone, but I still feel like it can’t really be spoken of, part of the conspiracy of infant death silence. It’s bad enough to lose a child. Don’t ruin it even more for the newly bereaved.

But in that silence is a struggle. A ‘what’s happening to us‘ struggle. We are supposed to be happy together (apart from the whole, desperately sad, daughter dying thing)/ good together. What did we do wrong?

You did nothing wrong. This is normal. You are at the edge of doom. Very very few of us come pre-equipped for this place. There will be struggle.

I am writing because K and I are these days getting support in this place. He knows that these words are a statement of what is our reality, not a signpost over the cliff edge to certain doom. It still isn’t easy. If losing a child is like having your skin peeled off, then I would say couples therapy is at times like having the infection scrubbed off your raw skin – a necessary pain. At other times, and more so, it is a healing balm.

Will we stick with it?

Certainly. I barely recognize myself in this new place. I barely recognize K in this new place. We need to get to know each other all over again. Both of us are raw and sore. We are way too easily hurt these days, but obviously putting on a brave face to protect ourselves and others from the truth. This is the hard part you allude to when you say your wedding vows, isn’t it? It is the middle, though – not the end. Love is bigger than this.

One of my brothers got married last September and asked me to do a reading during the ceremony, ‘The Invitation’ by Oriah. It was a short wedding ceremony, about 15 minutes. My reading took up about one third of the ceremony. I told him I didn’t think I would be able to read it without crying, but I would do my best.

I broke the wedding.

Everyone was in tears. I don’t know if he asked me because of what we had been through or just because I was the only woman on his side of the family, but I do know I have never read/cried my way through words with more lived feeling in my life…..

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk
looking like a fool for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are squaring your moon…
I want to know if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.
Oriah

Happy Valentine’s Day K.

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Responses

  1. Astounding.

    “I want to know if you can sit with pain
    mine or your own
    without moving to hide it
    or fade it or fix it.”

    I really don’t have any words that do this post justice. I can’t bear to say nothing, though.

    You were made to write – and thank God, you do it.

    No amount of pain makes this amount of depth worth it, but you certainly know how to bring richness and worth out of the dark night of the soul.

    I appreciate you, Louise in Ireland.

    Reading and grateful,

    Cathy in Missouri

    • Thank you Cathy.
      Your words are humbling and appreciated.
      Much love.

  2. Your wedding poem was our wedding poem too. And we bumbled along too – and had 4 daughters and life was tough at times but we were happy. And then we started to fight about another one and things went a bit wrong. And then, I got pregnant – and things went terribly wrong and we didn’t have that baby and everything fell apart completely. And our marriage got to the edge of beyond and I thought there was no hope.

    We went to Relate and for the first six sessions I thought there was no hope and that 6th session ended in screaming and I gave up. And then we screamed some more and suddenly, magically, we were fixed.

    Time went on and we decided we would have one last baby. Freddie. Who was born and didn’t breathe and died 11 days later.

    If I know anything now it was that the period of time when things were so broken and despairing and ending in marriage counselling was for a reason. Because it meant we survived losing Freddie and we never could have without that.

    I will wish for you that making that choice is the right thing too. I don’t think anything shows love like choosing to admit that a marriage needs attention. It is the ultimate commitment to the future.

    • Thank you Merry.
      You have me crying of a Wednesday morning and I am trying to work!!
      There is real comfort in knowing we aren’t treading this path alone.
      xx

  3. Dearest Louise

    I just want you to know that I read and that I care and that I wish.
    It is so friggen hard when both hearts are broken at the same time to be there for each other and to support each other and to do life together not just along side each other.
    I hope for you and K and I wish you the very best.

    I watched Jim Sheridan’s In America last night, hadn’t seen it in years and was a little bit unprepared because I had forgotten what it was about other than a family moving to the States in the eighties… But to me it’s a story of hope.

    I think our hearts will mend. You have four beautiful jewels in your heart, you really do.

    lots of love
    Ines xx

    • Thank you Ines.

      Your kind words are heard and mean a lot. I believe our hearts will mend too. There is just a lot of journeying in the process.

      I hadn’t seen the picture as jewels in my heart. Thank you for your insight.

      xx (on this lovely sunny day) Louise


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