Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On the anniversary of her birth

Winter Solstice

It is the shortest day of the year.
Or the longest night.
(Is the glass half empty or half full? Or is the glass just not the right size?)
She died today.
Why does my life have to read like a high-school-English novel?
Symbols for everything, nothing as it seems, lessons learned by everyone.
The night is day, and St. Lucy stands with two eyes on her tray,
Looking over my family as we huddle around a small bundle
On someone else’s bed,
Soaking someone else’s sheets with our tears,
Staining someone else’s floor with her blood.

It is the longest night of the year
Or the shortest day.
(Our glass is transparent. You can make it whatever liquid you like.)
She died simply.
In the time between day and night, night and day,
A dusk that never shed a beautiful light.
That is now eternally dark.
Solstice is magic, I said once.
It is the darkest day of the darkest year.
Solstice means a beginning and an ending.
Tomorrow will be lighter.
The next day, more so, but does the sun really matter anymore?

When we don’t sleep, this is the longest day of the year.
(Our glass is broken. The floor is sticky from my carelessness.)
She is dead and born together in the same moment.
Her first day was her first night.
Not being able to tell the difference, she just continued sleeping.
Like some little, perfect Rip Van Winkle, who they had forgotten under a tree.
I am not a storyteller this time. I am a mother.
I am not a mother this time. I am a truth teller.
I am not a truth teller this time. I am a soothsayer.
I am not a soothsayer this time. A fortune teller with a cracked crystal ball.
Solstice is a curse. I said today.
Solstice is a nightmare.

originally published in Exhale Magazine May 2009

When we found out her due date, January 4th, my birthday, I visualized December. Beatrice was born at 37 weeks, and I never thought Lucy would go until January. "Why, she will be born on solstice," I said pointing at the weekend of the 21st. "Lucy will be a solstice baby. It will be magic." And knowing the roots of St. Lucy and her associated festivals in Sweden, it just enhanced how perfect her name was for her. We decided Lucy's name long ago, when we were pregnant with Beatrice even, but the longer name Lucia, we didn't finalize that until November. But there was always a sense in me that she would come on the longest night.

I wish I was telling you this story as she teetered next to me trying to walk.

I admit that when I find out my children's due dates, I look on the Catholic Calendar. Each day in Catholicism is associated with a saint or martyr. My birthday, for example, is St. Elizabeth Seton's Day, and I chose the confirmation name Elizabeth. I always kind of imagined that I might use the middle name for their saint as was the tradition in my family. My great-grandfather's name is Michael Mary named after his saint day. We take this seriously. Gender be damned. As it turned out, the Catholic Church changed Santka Lucia's day to December 13th. They do try to hide their pagan roots. But no matter, we were hooked. We actually preferred the pagan associations. We bought candles, and imagined setting up solstice rituals for Lucy's birthday--to distinguish it from Christmas and make everything a bit special for our winter baby. (Poor Beatrice has the saint day name of Crescentia. She was just got middle named Grace for its beautiful qualities.)

And so Bea and I sat in bed last night and talked of solstice, of the Earth and the Sun and of our friends experiencing the longest day of the year in Australia. We talked about St. Lucy and our little Lucy. A sister never met, but everpresent in our house. And we looked into the sky, which is our knotty pine ceiling, looking for pictures in the intricate knots. "I see a baby," Beatrice said.
"Me too, love."

I always see my baby.

Today is another day I woke up without my daughter. It is her birthday today. We talked about so much about what to do for her day...I have handmade Moravian candles for her wreath, which I have yet to compose on our table. We will light them and maybe we will tell stories of Lucia, and folktales of solstice and light and dark from one of the many books I have purchased in this last year dealing with winter solstice. (This one Return of the Light is really quite cool.) But when we talked about it the other night, Sam and I scratched our heads. Nothing seems quite right. "What do we do for our birthdays? She is another member of our family. Let's do what we always do." And we decided to go for sushi, which is what we do when one of us has a birthday. Sometimes we go bowling. It sounds irreverent, and yet I imagine it will be solemn and fun in the same moment.

I was 38 weeks along. One day, she just died...one day. Solstice. That was a bad day, followed by an even worse day. I gave birth to her and she lay limp on me while I wept. I miss her every minute of every day. Now I have had day after tired day when I cry. I keep thinking I will have a better day, but each day is worse than the next. I am that woman--the one that cries. La Llorona. Wandering like a lost soul in the darkness crying. (Email to friend, December 31, 2008.)

Throughout this last year, I can talk about all the disappointments I have had in friends. All the weeping. All the lessons I learned, and the wisdom I lost. All the stories of misplaced anger and oversensitive hurts from people trying, but careless. But in honor of my daughter's birthday, let me tell you about the beauty and love, and the friends that held us, the love that kept us strong and laughing. I would never have imagined building such a beautiful community of strangers. No one, any more, is a stranger here. People I have met through my blog, through their blogs, through forums, they have become part of this large family of grieving mothers, fathers, sisters...I thank the universe for all of you everyday, and for this sacred space.

Early in December, Sarah sent me this beautiful Rosemary tree. She called it Lucy's tree. We called it Lucy's solstice tree. Beatrice and I cared for her. She became part of this beautiful ritual of her birthday. Sarah organized my beautiful babylost friends from around the world to send an ornament to adorn her branches. One thing that I cannot show you on the internets is how amazing it smells every time I hang a new ornament. We strung some little white lights, and added the amazing contributions to her tree everyday. Some days, I admit, it was overwhelming to receive such gorgeous words, loving expressions of our loss. And I would put the package aside, paper ripped, but boxes unopened...and other days, Beatrice screamed, "Mail, MOMMY!" And we gleefully opened a package, and oooh-ed and aaahed over the newest addition. And so, to any and all of you who sent an ornament, or a card, or commented on my blog in these weeks, or wrote to me, thank you. You have made this incredibly difficult time easier. I know that participating in something like this can be incredibly time-consuming and emotionally draining. Some days we have just enough for ourselves, but your compassion, selflessness and love has held us close and made us feel so warm in the stark cold of solstice. And so, here is something I put together to share Lucy's tree with the world. Much love to each of you.

and Petra sent this gorgeous picture for Lucy's birthday:

and the other remembrances around the web, which have made me cry. Thank you to you all.


  1. You're right: it does get lighter. It will get darker again, certainly, but hopefully less so, and you'll know where the candles are.

    Wishing you all kinds of light and love today. Bowling seems perfect.

  2. Lucy's tree is the most beautiful I have ever seen... Love from all around the world. All with you today. xx

  3. This is a beautiful post Angie and I love the video. Thinking of you and Sam and Bea today, on Lucy's birthday.

  4. Sending you, Sam and Bea so much love today Angie. Today I am wishing we could have met somewhere other then this sad place - that we had met swapping stories of two under three, relishing life with our girls, and that we could be celebrating today with shared cake and joy.

    But today I send you all the love from my family, and remember Lucy and the impact her story has had on our lives. Lucy will forever live in our hearts.

  5. Remembering Lucy with you today and always. Sending you all my love.

  6. Thinking of you and your sweet daughter today.

  7. We are thinking of Miss Lucy today. I have an idea for later to honor her (and you).

  8. I always think of winter solstice as a time to look inward, to be surrounded by darkness.

    May the love you feel for Lucy envelope you and keep you safe, on her birthday and always.

  9. remembering Lucy with you...

    from LFCA

  10. Lucy's tree is beautiful. Thinkig of you today.x

  11. Happy birthday Lucy. Thinking of you all. xx

  12. Remembering Lucy with you and sending love.


  13. Thinking of you all and hoping the tree is a source of love, warmth, and light today. xo

  14. Remembering sweet Lucy with you...


  15. Beautiful memoirs of your sweet Lucia, Ang.

    Remembering and loving her with you ... xo

  16. Beautiful post, and Lucy's tree is beautiful,too. Thinking of you and your family and wishing you much light.

  17. The truth in your words... "I am that woman--the one that cries. La Llorona. Wandering like a lost soul in the darkness crying." cut me like a knife.

    How beautiful you tell of your love for sweet Lucy. And, how beautiful the acts of love for you that have poured out into the mail and onto that little tree. I know that she was looking down, or there with you, wherever it is the spirits of our little babies go... Lucy saw that tree, it's light, the love the decorates it. I know she did.
    Sending much love and support your way on this long/short, light/dark day, and praying you find some moments of beauty, even among the pain.

    Peace xx

  18. beautiful post and I love the video

  19. Lucy's presence in all our hearts is a gift- sushi and bowling sounds right to me.

    With you today.

  20. "It is the longest night of the year
    Or the shortest day." Wow, what a thought. Loved the video. MISSing Lucy with you. Peace.

  21. A truely beautiful, twinkly (v important) tree. Beautiful words too, e*

  22. Remembering Lucy and sending a ((hug)) you way as you think of her today.

  23. What a beautiful tree. We are thinking of you and your little Lucy today also. Sending lots of love and hugz your way on this special day.

  24. My heart is with you. I am abiding, abiding, and abiding.

  25. Lucy's tree is beautiful, and so is the video you made of it. Thinking of you and Lucia today. She is missed. Much love to you and your family.

  26. Remembering your Lucy with you today. That tree is so beautiful! Thinking of you and your family and sending you love. xo

  27. Bowling and sushi sounds wonderful. Did it turn out to have been what you needed?

    Sorry to be late to this. But you were on my mind all day.

    Beautiful words and a beautiful tree for a beautiful and perfect little girl with a gorgeous name. Lucia Paz. Remembering with you.

  28. Thinking of you and Sweet Lucy.

  29. the most beautiful poem... i hope you dont mind if i share it...

  30. I'm thinking of you all through this rough time.

    Happy Birthday Lucy.


  31. A beautiful post. A beautiful tribute to Lucy. I'm sorry for chiming in late, but you are in my thoughts today.

  32. Thinking of you all today.

  33. Thinking of you and your family mightily, Angie.

  34. lucy's tree is so beautiful. filled with so much love. thank you for the wonderful video.

    thinking of you so much and sending lots of love.


  35. Sending hugs and many thanks for sharing the video of Lucy's tree so we could see how it all came together for you there... BTW I *totally* and completely get sushi and bowling! Been lighting my candle here all week, remembering *all* our kids...miracles,

  36. I really love the poem, of course, and the Lucy Tree. You and Lucy are in my thoughts during this poignant week. ((Hugs.))


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