In the last 18 days, I've talked to so many people who get it.
and I spend countless hours reading books and blogs about stillbirth.
It's like we want to know everyone out there who has experienced this
loss. Who understand how deeply you can miss someone you never even got to meet. Who understand the gamut of emotions - how one moment, you might be functioning fine and the next moment you wonder how it's possible to continue living.
I find myself obsessed with other people's stories, other people's pain, other people's children.
I find ourselves seeking out these people.
They understand me right now in a way no one else possibly can.
It's overwhelming, and I cry constantly hearing their stories.
And I feel less alone.
I feel less guilt.
I feel like it might just be possible for us to survive this, though I know we won't ever be the same
We now belong to the worst club in the world: parents who have lost a child.
If you're not in this club, be grateful. I hope you never join us. I hope your children outlive you, the way they are supposed to.
If you're in this club, we now connect on a level we'd never imagine.
There's BJ, an old acquaintance who suddenly feels more like a close friend, who lost his daughter Khani seven years ago and sent us a letter he wrote her. Justin and I both read it and cried, and we're seeing BJ and his wife in a few days. My aunt and uncle whose son Michael lived five days. Five days. My cousin's wife who lost Caleb at 40 weeks, who also had to deliver a baby she knew wasn't living. We've never talked much before, and suddenly, we know each other on a level that our best friends don't. There's a friend of a friend whose daughter died at 38.5 weeks and did extensive research on cord accidents afterwards. She wrote to me about the research (or really, lack of it), about the anger, about trying to move on. There's Jen, a friend of my sister's friend, who lost Luke at 40 weeks due to a cord accident. I read her blog, and I do the math, "Jen was two weeks out from losing Luke. How did she feel then? At one month out, how will I feel? How about two months, three months? How about a year? How about two years?" Jen and I have never met, but we now exchange regular messages, and I feel like I know her better than I know many old friends. She sent me a book, An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, and the author Elizabeth McCracken gets it too. Her son was stillborn. I devoured her book in a day, pencil in hand to underline the passages that especially resonated with me. She describes this baby-loss community as "a sort of kinship... When something terrible happens, you discover all of a sudden that you have a new set of relatives, people with who you can speak in the shorthand of cousins." There's an old family friend who never mentioned she lost a son at 22 weeks, a friend whose daughter lived three months, a family friend whose daughter died at birth. There is the card I got from the woman I've talked through once or twice at daycare, who lost twin boys and explained that "facing people living their normal lives feels like a foreign concept to you right now." She gets why leaving the house is so difficult right now.
There are many others too, who have come out of the woodwork, and they are the people who get it.
I have to slow myself down sometimes, have to walk away from my computer and the books. I have to remind myself that my grief is my own, that there's no linear way through this. I have to tell myself that I am overwhelmed with my own grief, much less all these other people's grief.
But I feel less alone, less like a freak.