Posted by: Louise | June 3, 2013

right where I am: 4 years 3 weeks & 2 days

There is an imprint of a bird on our bedroom window. His wings are spread. There is clearly something in his beak.

But there is no bird.

And there is no bird body. The only evidence of the bird’s existence is an imprint that I can see right through. I have tried to photograph it, but the camera focuses on the trees beyond and the imprint is rendered entirely invisible.

I didn’t hear the bird as it hit the glass. It must have made a noise. I wonder where the bird is now.

If I had to be an animal, I would be a bird. I can fly in my dreams…

I would watch out for windows though.

***

We were holding interviews in work last week, for a course I run. I had scanned the application forms. I was prepared (braced) when the woman who works for an organisation supporting parents bereaved through stillbirth came through the door. She was lighthearted – made her ‘work talk’ easy to listen to.

Of course ideas around grief and still birth are changing considerably, she said. People used to say that a woman still grieving after a year was experiencing a complicated grief. Current research suggests that, after a year, a woman who has experienced still birth is probably still suffering post traumatic stress from the trauma of giving birth to a dead child.

Braced, but not enough.

So many, many layers to daughter death.

My baby died. I wanted her to stay, to live, to be a living, breathing part of our family. Her broken heart took her. My heart broke.

My baby died. The world changed. It didn’t understand how physical mother love is. I still protect it from my pain.

My baby died. I couldn’t talk about my labour. No one asked. It wasn’t horrible. It was peaceful and natural and beautiful and unbearably sad. But no one asked.

And when this lady talked of the trauma of delivering a dead child, I choked deep down. A knot of emotion suddenly released itself deep down in my gut. My mother love is physical. The sadness and loss and longing that engulfed me after Laura died are physical feelings – emotions, but held and carried in my body.

No one talked of trauma. Mostly no one talked…

***

Where am I right now?

I want to feel that saying I have four children is not making a statement. It is just the truth.

I am dancing (even though the Giraffe Princess is mortified by the shapes I throw) because in dancing I feel alive. I feel like I can fly. I have moved through and with my grief more than in anything else. I have played with my missing daughter. I have played with my grief.

These days I laugh and joke again. These days I hold it together then let the tears flow after the interviewee has left the room.

These days I cry unapoligetically. My daughter died. Life is sad.

…but beautiful and joyful and humourous and a million other things, right in the middle of the sad.

I still struggle with the longing and everyone’s living babies in the school yard.

I don’t play ‘what if’, but there is someone missing in my life. There always will be.

***

There is an imprint of a baby in our lives.

But there is no baby.

The only evidence of our child’s existence is an imprint that I can see right through. I try to capture my daughter’s imprint in words and images, but people mostly focus on the world beyond and her imprint is rendered entirely invisible.

There is an imprint of a baby in our lives.

Her name is Laura.

***

This post was writen in response to Angie – Still Life with Circles “Right Where I am” project. It is the third year she has run this project. Angie’s honesty and creativity and generosity of spirit have been a huge inspiration to me on this journey. Thank you, Angie, again…

Last year I was here.
Two years ago I was here.

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Responses

  1. Oh Louise what an amazing piece of love and imagery. I can completely relate and this image is really so representative of this life and the grief we hold within. Thinking of you my friend…

    • And sending all love, winging it’s way across the Atlantic…xx

  2. I remember being the interviewee that walked into your room…less than a year after my daughter died and hopng you would see past my grief to my possibility. You did and only on my final day of that journey 2 weeks ago, did I understand how you could, you shared your experience with me. Thank you. You have left an imprint on my life…

    • Love to you, Lara. Your courage is inspiring.

  3. Wow. Louise, this is extraordinary. So beautiful and heartbreaking. Thank you.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Brianna.

  4. This is beautifully written, the repeated image of the imprint.
    One thing that jumped out at me is the idea of moving not just through grief, but with it. Somehow it feels like swimming with a current rather than struggling against it, getting exhausted, and drowning. So glad you took part in this project again.
    Remembering Laura with you.

    • Thank you Sara. I hadn’t thought of the idea of moving with grief. Now that you say it though, it makes perfect sense – physically moving with it.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this. I understand so much of what you have written, just beautiful. x

    • Thank you, Jeanette. Love to you and remembering your beautiful Florence.

  6. The bird imprint. The baby imprint. How true that many just focus through the invisible daughters.

    • It is hard to see when you haven’t known love and loss. So sorry Eva isn’t here in your arms.

  7. So much here, and so powerfully written. The longing and the missing and beauty and joy and love and sadness and the imprint – it takes my breath away. So much love to you.

  8. Thinking of you and Laura. Wishing that none of us had to live in a world without our child/children. Sending hope and hugs. xo

  9. Beautiful imagery, I was so glad to see you had taken part again this year. I loved that you ended this post with your daughter’s name. Laura. It is a beautiful name.
    xo

  10. I used to work in an office that was mainly windows and so many birds used to fly into the glass. Their imprints always made me feel melancholy, poor things that weren’t expecting an ugly great office block in the middle of the trees. Those ghostly images, where a bird used to be.

    I loved your description of ‘choking deep down’ – to me it felt like a very physical type of grief, all that love, all that everything. . . . . which is kept inside the body for the most part. As nobody talks.

    I feel that I can’t claim my daughter as one of my children without making a statement, without feeling that I am attention seeking or asking for pity. I just want her to be my daughter.

    Her imprint isn’t invisible to me. Laura’s imprint.

  11. WOW. The most beautiful piece I have read so far today going through RWIA posts. Thank you SO MUCH.

  12. This is such a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing where you are now, and for articulating the physicality of mother love. I still feel the longing, in my fingertips and in my arms. In my chest. There is someone small who I am supposed to be holding. There is soft skin that I should be kissing. There are small hands that I should be holding and cleaning and teaching. But there is only the absence of these things.


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