May 1st. International Babylost Mother's Day. Though this "holiday" is only two years old, it feels ancient. I see the goddess statues marked with deflated bellies and broken hearts standing in love and light together holding hands. This has been happening since children were born, because since children were born, children died. And we women stand together and speak of it. We light fires and candles and remember birth and death in the same breath, braiding daisy chains to wear in honor of people only we think of as people.
It doesn't make it any less tragic that it happens now less than it used to, nor am I trying to diminish our losses. Simply, it is such an ancient grief tied into the myths and legends of the beginning of the world, that it feels deeper to say we are connected to the sisterhood of the babylost, masters of the ancient art of grief.
Today is Beltane, which is the festival of fire and fertility and life. It seems ironic, I suppose, that we also mark the occasion of our motherhood into grief. Lucy gave me a way of being a mother that I had never known before. She would have done that had she lived. She would have made me the mother of two girls, not just one, but when I gave birth, I also gave birth to the language of grief, which had been forming in me since I was born.
Lucy freed me with her death. She made it impossible for me to ignore the emotions I stuffed into the corners of my being. I'd rather have her alive. I would do anything to have her alive. I'd trade every ounce of wisdom. Were we to barter with the universe that way, you may think me evil to know what I would trade. I can't even fathom it. God's blessing is that I can't make those deals. There is no pound of flesh to make this right. And still, I can see now what I have because of her, I mean, also because of her death. That is one of the worst sentences I can think of, but there it is--a truth I cannot ignore. I am different and better because of her. And I do not know what it would be like if she lived, so I can only say I am different and better because of her and her death.
I am a cynical bitch. I admit it. I get annoyed with all the holidays we have to get through, all the occasions we mark without our children. It is hard enough some days to get through the days when nothing is expected of us. Then we have Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentine's Day, Easter, Mother's Day, birthdays, then the days in our community on top of it, the ones where we remember in groups with each other. Those days I don't mind so much, it is the time when I can speak my grief.
I think I love this day best. I don't have an obligations to anyone but me. I never expect a civilian to remember this day, or to say anything really. Not even Sam. It is just a day that I can reflect on what this community is about for me. How blogs and grieving people saved my life. I wrote this poem for Carly last year in honor of what she explained for her vision of the day. I remember when Carly was coming up with this idea, and I wondered, with absolutely no disrespect to Carly, why we can't reflect on being grieving mothers on Mother's Day? I wanted Babylost Mother's Day to be on Mother's Day, because I am a fighter, and I wanted to fight with people about whose day this was. Then I realized I was absolutely missing the point. This day is not about fighting. It is our day. OUR DAY. A day to put aside the living children caveat. A day to put aside honoring our own mothers. A day to put aside the expectations of society and marketing and advertising and everything. There isn't a Hallmark card, or a gift written about by Emily Post. This is a day about one kind of heartbreaking, painful, beautiful mothering--the mothering of grief.
This day is a way to acknowledge that the kind of mothering we do, while different, is still mothering. We tend to graves. We dust urns. We light candles. We write about what this experience is like. We grieve. We mourn. We remember other people's babies, because their babies like our babies live when we speak their names. We hold hands. We cry together. We lament. We write poetry and draw pictures, and sculpt. We put together photo albums and find signs in nature. We say silent prayers of gratitude and regret. We fearfully tell people about our baby when we want to show pictures, write in baby books. We don't quite fit in. We do math quicker than other people--the math of loss, how old she would be, how tall, how loving. We read books about death, grief, parenting, fitting in, fitting out, love. We cry. We sometimes become so consumed with the missing we need to climb into bed and weep. And that is a job too.
I don't know. This day for me is also about the sisterhood in and around babyloss. And so, this day is also about compassion and self-compassion. Grieving for my new friends and their children, and then saying, "I too am worthy of compassion, because they are worthy of compassion." Maybe I am babbling now. I tend to do that when I am speaking of important things.
As these things go, I wanted to do something and yet I do something everyday, so two years after planting her tree, I made her stepping stone yesterday. I made one that I have fallen in love with. I wanted it to say more, her birth date, and the words missing and loving, but cement writing is a bitch, so I focused on the mosaic. And so, my gift to myself is this project. Her stepping stone. I included a ladybug given to me by the beautiful Mother Henna, a heart in the middle with one purple stone, a milagro in the bottom, and her name, like it matches my wrist. One thing I have learned in the past few months is that nothing is forever, and this stepping stone is exactly what I wanted it to be right now. Someday, I may do all the things I imagine her for garden, but for now, this is a perfect gift for myself for International Babylost Mother's Day.
This is the way I mothered Lucia today.