The voices here will arrive and depart, like tides making new sandscapes of the same beach. We need this place like food and air and then one day we open our eyes and with a nod to the others, we step from one side to the other, across a foggy sort of before-and-after boundary we hadn’t been sure we’d ever find.
From I am completely lost to a deep breath and I am not completely lost.
Following are the voices of Glow in the Woods, both current contributors and what we call the Glow emeritus— founding writers whose words still live here, but who no longer contribute on a regular basis. They'll come back from time to time to sit with us, and tell us how things look from further down the path. We honour them all, and we're so blessed with their company.
In our final moment together, one of my tears landed just below Cora's right eye, as though she cried it herself. My motherly urge was to wipe it off, but I let it be. Then the nurse rolled her away, my whole heart, never to be seen again. I now weave Cora's story into the tapestry of the human experience, sharing and seeking what's real, raw, and honest.
I am a mother to two sons-one gone and one here-living a life filled with sorrow and joy and trying to make room for both.
I lost her body. All that remains is held in a wooden box in my home. I find her every time I share her story or reach out to another soul shattered by loss. I bare my soul willingly.
My first child, a daughter, was born in the spring and died a week later. I'm writing from the in between space, to document her life and death and what it means to be her mother.
She died two days before her due date in the only place I ever thought she'd be safe; I had never failed so hard at something I cared so much about. This was my introduction to motherhood. And even two breathtaking children later, I am irrevocably changed.
Sometimes I wonder if my eyes will always look this empty—they didn’t used to. A light went out in me when I lost him. I had a son. We named him Caden, and he changed the course of my life. Writing is a means of pulling myself out of the darkness, and often easier than saying the words out loud. I’ve learned that grief is isolating and unpredictable, and I am constantly learning how to navigate it.
Twelve years ago, Ben grunted in his cot, almost ready to come home, and the lost baby heart-trinket given to me by a NICU nurse as she took Liam away hung on a string around my neck, warmed by my skin. There's been so much since then. Liam is my eyes, my spring, my afterlife.
My daughter Agnes, diagnosed with a fatal birth defect, lived for a few hours on this side of the world. Here I write in the aftermath of my loss, hoping to transcend some of this darkness into light.
To me, always—more since we buried our second child, our first son, A—the candle is a fragile, finite, ephemeral, but necessary focus point in the dark. When there is nothing else to do, I find myself lighting a candle.
I search for my lost son, day in and day out, while I shuffle aimlessly throughout my days. If I pick up my pen and write, maybe it will bring sense to his absence, conjure his lost love back into my heart. In the spaces of time—between light and dark, I find him again. In my words, I love him. In my words, he lives.
Raahi was the restoration of my faith in my life, the completion of my family, the one to take us on a spectacular journey. After twelve grueling weeks at the NICU and two surgeries, she came home healthy and happy. Eight days later, she wandered on, alone, leaving the three of us to only trace her path.
I always wanted a daughter. Then I had Nadia, but she didn't get to stay. It is one thing to love someone who isn't there anymore, but I am left loving someone who was, in many important ways, never there—except to me. The loneliest of feelings alongside the deepest of connections.
Before stumbling out of the hospital and into the cold rain of November, I kissed my daughter one last time and told her that I love her so very much. The kind nurse rocking her looked up at me and said, "She knows." The words I collect here are one way I make sure she never forgets.
Porcelain. Gypsum. A book of mica. Those sugar crystals you grow in elementary science on a fuzzy piece of yarn. A thin sheet of seasalt, water evaporated. The slow seeping drip of water in a limestone cave, and the fragile tiers of rimstone bubbling out of a hot spring. After the stillbirth of our son, these are the things I am made of.
Winter solstice. My daughter died before she was born. She was perfectly healthy, they said. Just dead. Since her death, I am more of who I once was, which isn't always a good thing.
Mother to twin girls born over sixteen weeks too soon. One of my daughters emerged from the shadowy world of the NICU but, sadly, her twin sister died there. A part of me is still waiting for my other daughter to come home. Still standing in the very spot where we said goodbye. It's going to be a long wait.
After five years of a miscarriage, infertility, infertility treatment, and a healthy toddler, we decided to try one more time for one more baby. We are left with a gaping hole following the six days of our baby’s so-called life. I cope, grieve, and mother a live, inquisitive three-and-a-half year old as well as the memory of my dead daughter.
Just as the anticipation was nearing climax, after the build up and the longing and accumulating love and the physical hardship and everything else that went into those thirty-eight weeks, my partner tripped and fell on the sidewalk. Her placenta ruptured and Margot died. A new life is slowly emerging, one filled with overwhelming sorrow and an iTunes playlist that no longer includes Beyonce. I write here to join the society of the suffering and to keep my second daughter close.
This is the third spring of buds on the birch trees we planted in our backyard my first Mother's Day...nine days after Finn was born, eight days after he died. 'When I see birches bend to left and right/across the lines of straighter darker trees/I like to think some boy's been swinging them.' —Robert Frost
Of course, it will not be him.
I am forever changed because of you, my Sweet Tikva. Changed in a way I can't really explain. Changed in an irreversible way. Changed in a way I needed to be changed. I see you in the birds flying gracefully, playing within the gliding arms of the wind.
My baby died. I never knew her. I wish I did.
World crashed when he died. Picking up pieces and trying to fit together a puzzle without having any idea what the completed picture should look like.
The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
We had no idea she would leave us. Six weeks old, sweet cherub cheeks just starting to smile in spite of a heart that simply couldn't cope. Now I'm left, forced into the dark, reeling with shock, empty arms hanging at my sides. I ache for my lost purpose while I force one foot in front of the other. Trying my best to find a way back to new and utterly different light.
My son Silas died the day he was born. There are two halves to my life, now. The words I write here are an attempt to reconcile who I was with who I have become, and to keep my missing son close. There are so few ways to hold him. This place is one of them.
My daughter, Roxy Jean, was stillborn on August 1st, 2007. Her 7 plus pounds are still etched into my arms. I sing for her and I write for her so that I may always keep her with me.
One brief moment of hope, holding him for the first time, our fifth child, our first boy. It seemed like it might come right. He seemed happy in my arms. I thought I was mother enough to make him stay. But I wasn't. Eleven SCBU days later he faded away, unexplained and unexpectedly. I went home to try and be mother to my daughters who broke in pieces without their brother.
Our boy lived for less than thirty minutes after he was born. It takes me longer than that every morning just to make my coffee and eat breakfast and yet his brief life has completely changed the landscape of my own in ways that I am still trying to understand.
I hoped B.W.’s death and birth would be our single unfathomable tragedy. Seven years and one living son later, Zachary was born premature. He was two weeks old when we removed life support. I thought I could imagine what a second death would do to me. I was wrong.
She was going to be our wedding present, but after a difficult early pregnancy, my body gave out at the half-way mark. With no answers to be had, and no little girl to bring home, I just keep writing, hoping to mark my trail, hoping to stumble into the light. Most days it feels like I’m more lost than she is, but I keep up the search.
For nearly two years, we tried to get them here. Then they were. Then they weren’t. We lost our twins, Zoey and Gus. We mourned. We began trying again. Sometimes in that order, sometimes not.
The pregnancy was easy, until the moment it wasn't. Gabriel was here for 30 minutes. Nothing was easy after. Not the grieving and mourning, not four subsequent miscarriages, not the reconciliation of living without children. It is better now. It is not easier.