So Glad You Were Mine

Every summer, as the days went from wet-warm to dry-hot, the anxiety would begin to bubble inside of me as we approached the August 1st anniversary of Roxy’s birth and death. I wouldn’t even recognize what was happening at first. I’d just be irritable and jumpy, mad at the sun. I compare it to a long-standing pain one might have in their spine… an injury that never left. You forget about the pain. In some ways, you get used to it, but it darkens your mind.

Terra and I established a tradition of escape beginning with the first anniversary of Roxy’s death. We would go to the tree that was planted in a park in her honor, tie our balloons,  lay down our flowers and then we’d swoop up Mason (and eventually, Lila) and run away from home for a couple of days. We’d avoid everyone and everything. We’d stay distracted. It was strategy. We’d survive our grief the best way we could.

As year 5 approached in the summer of 2012, the pattern remained. The heat triggered the slow, silent, terrible build inside me. A 2-month crescendo, ending in collapse with anger and terror tangling further into the fabric of my heart until there was no room for anything else.  The pattern was becoming exhausting. I wanted to change it. With Terra’s blessing, we planned something slightly different.

Our extended families met us in the park at Roxy’s tree. For the first time, we brought Roxy’s photos. I have been viciously protective of these pictures in the past. I was always concerned someone would see only a dead baby, and not the stunningly beautiful daughter that she was to us. Some days, I didn’t even trust myself to look at them for this reason. I was filled with fear heading to the park, but we desperately, finally wanted this day to be about remembering and honoring our daughter and not just surviving our own grief. Or, at least, we wanted to give it a shot.

I could not have foreseen the magic that was coming.

Mason (age 9) very sweetly asked to see Roxy’s pictures and very sincerely wanted to participate in what we were doing.

When we talked to Lila (age 3) about Roxy, she said “was she a girl or a boy? Oh I think she turned into a tree. I’m going to look for her."

We had found and brought several copies of her birth record with her hands and feet printed on them, which took everyone’s breath away. We gave copies to the grandparents and aunts, and it felt so good to be able to give them a piece of her.

We brought helium balloons. We wrote messages to her on them and let them go into the air. Right as we released them into the sunlight, a dragonfly swooped down in front of us. Dragonflies were the primary theme in which Terra had decorated Roxy’s bedroom. I don’t believe in angels or ghosts (well, maybe ghosts), but there was something of her that felt really, truly there with us.

For the first time, I felt grateful for it all. Grateful for having been Roxy’s father. For having gotten to hold her, meet her, even if she had already departed. I finally felt that there was more than just pain there, in my heart where she continued to live. She was more than just pain, and I was so glad she was mine. When I got home that evening, I wrote this song. (I apologize, it’s kind of a rough mix.)


There were no birds on their branches
And there was nothing in your eyes
I’m so glad you were mine
Your skin was cracked at the elbow
And your blood was the reddest wine
I’m so glad you were mine
I meditate with the spirit
And I’m sheltered in her vines
I’m so glad you were mine
The ritual that brings you comfort
Is the lion that eats you alive
I’m so glad you were mine
August never offers mercy
And September never comes on time
I’m so glad you were mine
The wincing has gone fishing
And now I miss the knife
I’m so glad you were mine
There are no waves upon this ocean
It’s unkind
And the stillness of the water
It is nothing compared to mine
There are so many ways to suffer
And so many ways to die
I’m so glad you were mine
There are so many ways to suffer
And so many ways to die
I’m so glad you were mine

What kinds of ritual(s) do you have in place to remember the child or children you've lost? Have those rituals changed over time?