Today, July 16, 2019, is the sixth birthday and anniversary of Zia Sarai Joseph, Jo-Anne’s daughter. Six years later, the date also falls on a Tuesday, like in 2013. Today, I take the liberty as Glow’s editor, to let Jo-Anne’s words on Glow’s face be less pretty, less artistic, less beautiful. One of the things I have always loved about Glow are the lilting, symbolic, metaphorical, beautiful pieces of themselves babyloss parents share with us on Glow’s cover. But today, there is nothing beautiful about Jo-Anne’s piece. No theme, no direction, and no deep reflection. It just is. It contains her chaotic but withdrawn mind, her intensity, her ugliness. And that, as we all know, can be the reality of grief.
Today, around the fire, let your serpents down, and let’s sit with Jo-Anne as she vents.
I have written and rewritten this article several times. Sometimes I have left it because I became too choked up, sometimes I have deleted hundreds of words because none of it made any sense. I have stared at a blank screen, tapping at the mouse, wanting something inspiring to pour out of me. This is after all Glow in the Woods. I wrote but there was no emotion, it invoked no feelings in me. It was flat and impassive, not pretty enough. It articulated nothing and contained too many vulgar words for public consumption.
Last year I published an anthology of poetry, prose and letters from bereaved parents to their babies (The eBook is free at https://dl.bookfunnel.com/gy0y58ffbz).
This week I have been told that some of my recent social media posts were too intense. That I had to remember that I was an author, that this was my business. That if publishing houses were looking at my page, it would come across as unprofessional. I had readers and followers and should rant in private. It’s why I have a private page.
So, I went in and I deleted those posts. The person who said it did so from a good place – she wants me to succeed in my writing career. And there were some pretty intense posts. Hateful posts about religion, against people who think having a mental disorder is a joke. Maybe this post itself is too intense. Maybe the editors will decide it really sounds like the rantings of a mad woman and ask me to rewrite it. I won’t mind, because you see, I try to rewrite myself every single day since Zia died.
And I have failed.
It’s July and I hate July. It’s a messed-up month, my child died, and so I am not a very pleasant person. In fact, I am hateful, snappy, emotional and so close to breaking point it scares me.
Six years and it’s all come full circle. I remember it all and the tinge of sadness that constantly lingered has erupted into a volcano. I find myself doing the usual retracing of steps, reading of emails, counting of days. I can go on and on about what was, and it still won’t change what is. So, the tears remain at the base of my eyes and the ache grows inside me, because surely it has been long enough? Surely.
The thing about losing a baby that most people don’t quite understand is that, you lose so much more than just a human being that should have been a certain age on a certain day, in a certain year. It is the loss of a future that will never be written. A loss of relationships, hopes, dreams. After six years she is still the one thing I will never have no matter what I achieve, and she is the one thing I want more than words can truly express.
She is out of reach, not even like the moon, even it has footprints on it. My thoughts suddenly turn to the movie First Man. Have you seen it? It is the story of Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon. What stuck out for me, what imprinted itself on my mind, is the scene where Neil Armstrong looks out into nothingness, then places a baby bracelet on the moon.
Whether or not he really did it or whether it was a creative liberty taken by the directors of the movie is irrelevant, because it captures the truth about grief and mourning. That is what matters to me. That nearly seven years after his two-year old daughter died, he remembered, he felt, he hurt, and he wanted to do something significant to mark her existence. There is no timeframe for grieving the loss of a child, there is no expiry date. It just is.
Over the years, I’ve become more withdrawn as the date nears. It doesn’t mean I hurt any less. I just can’t light a candle or do something special to commemorate her life just because I am expected to. Her life is, because I am, and as long as I am alive, she will be remembered, not just in rituals on an annual basis. Which I have no issue with. It is a personal thing and I have outgrown those kinds of things, and I would like to think she has too. I simply hurt and let it consume me, and that is okay.
I have stopped looking for signs that she is still around me. I don’t know and that is okay. I don’t know what is on the other side, and quite frankly, I do not care. I just live my life as best I can because that is all I can do. I cannot be the things people want me to be. And so maybe I am too intense, and should tone down. The issue is that the world wants the ugliness to be private, a silent storm. It shouldn’t upset the balance.
My balance was thrown off six years ago and I am still trying to stand steady.
There must have been a point to all this. I guess I want you all to know that it is okay to feel like shit sometimes. It is not a problem to hurt and break and then put yourself back together again. Death is too complex of a topic for me to ever understand, because the more I think about it the less meaning life has, so I stay off it. Just know that every life matters. Your babies’ lives matter and you can be sad about losing them for as long as you want to or need to.
I should send this before I delete it this time again.
What is your intensity and ugliness? What have you been told regarding toning it down because it makes others uncomfortable?