Pale Blue Dot

See the faint dot between the white lines? That's planet earth. And it makes me wonder about my dead baby.

Just before Voyager 1 ended it's primary mission and blasted off towards the outer reaches of the Solar System, it spun around and snapped a photo of earth, some three and a half billion miles away. This photo was taken in 1990 (and the Voyager, incredulously, is still going).

On the one hand, of course, the sheer insignificance of the earth, and our lives, in the grand scheme of the solar system is sobering. There appears to be a bigger story being written, cosmic and infinite in size, and one that will be downright impossible to ever understand. The notion that any of us, with such finite minds and limited understanding, could have anything figured out seems almost foolish. As astronomer Carl Sagan pointed out, “Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.”

From this vantage point of earth, everything about our significance is lost. The pain and joy and suffering and pleasures of our earthly human existence are all invisible. From out here looking in, our spinning earth boils down to life and death. The collective species lives and dies and enters the earth. End of story.

Insert my Margot into this picture of earth and you can barely discern any difference between her and the rest of the species. She lived, she died. She suffered the same fate as everyone else, and from this far away, the difference between her life and her great, great grandmother’s life is a mere blip in time, the same beginning, the same end. There is no tragedy from this vantage point, no suffering, no feeling of loss.

I am insignificant. She is insignificant. But at least we are together, tiny specks on a tiny speck with no Horton looking out for us. And there is some peace in this reality, some science comfort.

The other side of this image, however, reveals what a crazy, far-fetched, inconceivable fucking miracle it is that we even exist at all. The notion that the universe aligned in just the precise way for the species to make their grand entrance on planet earth, and for the species to continue to evolve over the millennia, and to evolve in such a way that our brains allow us the ability to think and feel and experience this little speck on which we live, is damn well breathtaking.

It’s here where I feel the tragedy of Margot June more deeply than ever. Her own miraculous story was cut short, without ever getting to experience this cosmic mystery of life on earth.  

I used to feel so sorry for my family, for our collective broken hearts, for the life we didn’t ask for, for the loneliness of losing a child. For her mother, whose waisted milk came in and dripped aimlessly down her flesh, who carried her for thirty-nine long weeks, who felt this more than anyone; for her sister, who kissed her in utero and spoke of her constantly, who always got this euphoric look in her eye when we described what being a sister meant for her; for myself and the broken dream of raising two girls, holding them both in my arms as we navigated life together.

Now days I mostly just feel sorry for her.

For in this image, I’m reminded of the revelation that she was, and all that was waiting for her on the other side of the womb. I’m heartbroken she missed out on the complexities of life on earth, no matter how insignificant or miraculous our pale blue dot is.


How does this image of planet earth make you feel in regards to your missing children? Does it bring peace or despair or a mix of both? Does science play a role in your grief? As the time has dragged on without your children, have you felt more or less sorry for yourselves?