The mountains are calling, and I must go

photo by  Lauren Rushing


Evie, our guest writer today, is a mother of two. Her second-born died from a nuchal cord accident at 20 weeks gestation. "I miss him terribly," she writes.

Five months after losing my unborn son, I am standing in a small graveyard by a quaint church, 600 miles away from my home.

We are on a family vacation somewhere in the Blue Ridge mountains. They want me to heal, hoping that the Appalachian Americana stills the wellspring of raw anger and infinite grief over my baby's death. And so there I am, desperately trying to find meaning and derive at least a small measure of peace from this vacation.

I channel Bill Bryson, trudging through hiking trails and stumbling over roots. I search through the creek for small garnets and heart-shaped rocks that I could tuck in his memory box, so he too could experience the sharp cold water, as his brother does, as his cousins do. I sit on the porch in the evening watching the lightning bugs call to each other by flaring and fading in the dark. I find the garnets, my small one's unintended birthstone, and a tiny grey rock, smoothed by the ice melt into a little bird. I do not find peace. I do not find meaning. I do not hear him, I do not feel him, I do not see his light. He is silent, he is gone.

And so, a walk past a church, a brief stop at an old cemetery. I am clutching a field daisy and reading the old-timey names on the gravestones, imagining the lives of those who lie beneath—a 20-year old soldier who died in Belgium in 1944, a woman who died three days before her 90th birthday—when I see a grave of an infant boy. There is only one date and his name, Emerson, is in quotes. A baby born and lost on the same date in April of 1937.

I stand where she must have stood, mourning her son under the gaze of the ever-present ancient guardians, the mountains that stand over him still. In that instant, I know this mother's heart, the deep grooves permanently left by a child whose beautiful soul will never be revealed to anyone else. An entire life lived in a handful of months, and then forgotten, the only reminder a gravestone, a cracked, yellowed plastic Christmas ornament, and a crying angel.

I suspect that everyone who would have loved my small one have already begun the slow process of healing and moving on. He will be diminished and relegated to a sad memory of could-have-been.

But not for me. Never for me. And I think—never for you, never for Emerson's mother, who stood in the shadow of the ancient mountain range, burying her little boy. For a brief moment, I feel a kinship with a nameless stranger who grieved for her child as I grieve for mine, so I stoop down and leave my field daisy at his grave for her—look, someone understands, someone remembers.

Perhaps that's the only peace there will ever be to find.

What small moments of companionship, accompaniment, or shared experience have comforted you in your grief and recovery?