It's set. I'm going to Edmonton again for the Walk to Remember.
Last year I walked through the crowd and saw not just the echo of babies lost, but a cross-section of this gauntlet.
I saw mothers fresh from hospitals, turned inside-out.
I saw fathers cradling new babies but tracking the sky, following the path of a balloon set loose.
I saw brothers and sisters chasing tails, and grandparents holding hands.
I worried I wouldn't be able to talk -- not just because I'd lost my voice the day before, but because I expected, when I got up there, to be hit with a wall of grief. How could I presume to say something useful, or worthy, or fitting, or inspiring? It felt like a tightrope.
Up the stairs to the podium. A microphone waited. Families sat cross-legged on the grass. The sun was brilliant, the leaves golden and crackly underfoot. I apologized for the state of my voice with shallow breaths and then paused to look at all of them, my chest thumping.
They sat there, waiting, looking at me. These people—hundreds of them—love babies that died. Held them and counted toes and then drove home with an empty car seat. Some of them shifted, leaning into husbands or shushing cousins or tugging gently on antsy leashes.
Every now and then a father would nod, his chin in his hand. One mother, a loving arm draped across her shoulder, sat there with her face dripping tears. Another glowed with wistful peace.
This day, this event, was a living Glow in the Woods. It was elegant and thoughtful and soul-feeding. It honoured this strange parenthood, this talking to phantoms. It was fresh air and pumping blood. It was a surrounding of exquisite likeness, sameness, getting-it.
I can't wait to be there. To see Jocelyn and Chris, mama and daddy to starborne Lincoln, who work tirelessly to make this day so unspeakably magical and inclusive. We'll go for breakfast again, I hope, and eat sticky buns with tea while we sit together, an invisible fireball of mystery humming between us, a warmth I only feel in their presence and in yours.
If you're in Edmonton, Alberta—or if you can get there to the absolutely stunning Legislature Groundson Saturday, October 3—please come along. Bring however big of a loving posse you like. Go here to register. See the photographer's lovely captures of last year here, and see my photos, reflections and the speech I gave here, here and here.
Let me know in the comments if you plan on walking. If you do, let's go for a beer afterwards, or hot chocolate, or anything. A Glow in the Woods meetup. Please? Pretty please? Leave a comment here and we'll get an email thread going. We'll walk from the Legislature Grounds to a pub, or some cozy spot, and I'll need a crew of locals to make a recommendation.
Tell me about your own experiences of en masse remembering. Have you walked to remember in your own city? Have you gathered with other babylost parents—either in large, organized groups or in intimate kitchens? Why, and how does it feel?