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glass castle

Today I am so honored to welcome Jessica Watson to this space. Jessica is a mom to five, four in her arms and one in her heart.  After the loss of her infant daughter in 2007, she left the corporate world behind, vowed to soak up every living moment and found her writing roots again. I've been reading Jessica's beautiful blog for many years as she has grappled with life after the death of one of her triplets. You can find her wearing her heart on her sleeve at her personal blog Four Plus an Angel or on twitter @jessbwatson. Please welcome Jessica and join the discussion.



photo by Ayrcan.


You have played that game, on the computer, the phone, in life, where the water is rushing through pipes and you have to turn the pipes in the right direction so they fit and the water can continue to flow.

You find a straight one, then one that turns to the right, then to the left, some that cross over each other and some that turn back the way they came and then you ultimately get to the end. Finding a piece that will connect it all, you realize that once it is placed, once you slide it into the correct position the flood will come. A path will have been sealed and the pressure that began at the start will find its way through your maze and seep out. It may trickle or gush or pour in buckets but once you have chosen to open gates so carefully guarded you will drown, you are sure of it.

So you don't complete the path, you leave that last piece tilted a bit to the right or jutting back to the left or you just keep picking up pieces and putting them back, knowing they are not where they should be and the pressure you have never released continues to pulse in the maze of your mind.

Life keeps rushing past even though yours stopped. You lost a child and with her went your optimism, your faith. You move and walk and breathe but not fully in or out or forward. Sometimes you want to scream at the world for continuing to spin and sometimes you want to whisper a question of how exactly they all manage to do it.

You are never fully anchored to the ground, your mind and your heart are divided between the earth and the sky and while you wish for a day to just cry, you are pretty certain that a day or a month or a year would not be enough.

Continuing to walk on ground left shaken, you tiptoe around cracks or stomp at the injustice and squelch the desire to pound your fists, because the walls might just come crashing down this time.

Grief and loss have become your glass castle, buried feelings and put off tears your pipeline that may never find land. You are suspended yet buried, trapped in a world of living without someone who should be. 



Does life after the death of your child or children feel like water rushing past you? Or rather, do you feel swept away with life? Do you feel untethered, or grounded? Jessica refers to grief and loss as a glass castle, do you see your grief as a building, and if so, what kind? 

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Reader Comments (12)

This post perfectly describes my place in life right now. Thank you for sharing and putting into words what is so very hard to describe.

October 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa
I lost my daughter almost a month ago, and I am definitely feeling very unteathered. I laugh but it doesn't sound the same to my ears, sounds emptier. Everything is emptier without her.
I loved the line "You move and walk and breathe but not fully in or out or forward. Sometimes you want to scream at the world for continuing to spin and sometimes you want to whisper a question of how exactly they all manage to do it," Because it perfectly describes my life after Mia.
Thank you Jessica
October 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEmily
As always, I truly relate to your writing...this time especially "It may trickle or gush or pour in buckets but once you have chosen to open gates so carefully guarded you will drown, you are sure of it" I keep busy and distracted...so those gates don't have a chance to open. Reading this somehow releases a little piece of the pressure though. Thanks, Jess. Thinking of you, especially this week. xoxo Heather
October 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeather
Jessica as usual your writing reaches deep into my soul and captures the sentiments I have been unable to express. Hugs, especially today!!!
October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlexa
Wow, yeah, this hit me right where I'm at right now (8 months out). The grief seems to be getting more intense... but yet, I'm more and more expected to be "normal" out in society. I've changed forever. I will never be as patient or optimistic. I will never be as open. That doesn't make this new me "bad"...just different. I'd like that one day to cry, though....
October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie
Thanks for this, Jessica. I love the image, maybe because it's so very different from my own - I keep thinking of grief as a wilderness or an exile, an exposed cliff face. But what you get at so beautifully here is our participation in building and guarding our glass castles.

And your last paragraph is just so beautiful.
October 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commentererica
Five years ago this month I had my first loss: Because of my incompetent cervix, my daughter was born far too soon and lived for twenty minutes before dying in my arms.

Last week I had my second loss. This time it was an early miscarriage.

The first few days were okay. I was sad, but my living children required my attention, and my husband had some work events that he needed my assistance with. I cooked, cleaned, chased my children, and slept only three to five hours each night. Then I finally stopped for breath, and now I can't seem to get going again. Yesterday I sobbed to my husband, "I feel like I'm adrift."

I can't seem to quite remember who I am and what I once hoped for from my life. I desperately want to disconnect from anyone who knew I was pregnant. I want to be busy, but I'm exhausted. I feel like I need to redefine myself, but I don't know who I was to begin with.

I know it won't feel like this forever, but right now my heart is overwhelmed with the grief and indeed, I feel swept away.
October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHMC
Oh Jessica. I'm so pleased to find a piece from you here. You always describe how I feel when I can't manage it myself.

I often feel as though I am in the glass castle and life is just hurtling past the walls. And I'm still standing here, wondering what on earth happened. To her. To me.

And the pressure, that I can't seem to relieve or to stop or to ease. That pulses about in my mind, keeping me awake at night, drifting. Never fully in one place.

Your triplets have been on my mind so much this week, especially your little Hadley Jane. I wish that she were here with her brother and her sisters.

HMC - I'm so sorry.
October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine W
Beautiful, beautiful.

Is my grief a building? No. Not for me. My grief is a wide open space with infinite prompts and possibilities. Boundary-less. Thank you for making me think.
October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJess
Thank you for this. It very much captures how I feel right now. I am untethered and adrift. The pressure just keeps building and building, and I don't know how I will survive it.

"A path will have been sealed and the pressure that began at the start will find its way through your maze and seep out. It may trickle or gush or pour in buckets but once you have chosen to open gates so carefully guarded you will drown, you are sure of it."

This is exactly what my life feels like right now.
October 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNikki
My grief is like a raging sea. You can tread water for a little while, but eventually you will drown in it.
October 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNikki
Thank you for your beautiful posts, everyone... I am 2 months after my sons stillbirth. It seems like to others outside my home, it happened a hundred years ago , and then it seems like it happened yesterday, when I am numb and confused and in denial, then suddenly it feels like 2 months after, where I am lost, alone, scared and the only sound I hear is me screaming but "I shouldve", "maybe if I...", and "what if?". Lately my marriage has been just as affected. Some days I have never felt more connected, through the loss, it has made us a better couple that shares more and that is understanding. But then some days I feel like I am watching myself, my kids and my husband from outside my house, through a window. I feel like a stranger, a that no one understands. Even my loudest cries, my flood of tears and my true feelings are still not 100% truth. How do I tell my husband, "honey I know you're trying and you're amazing for wanting to help, but I hate that sometimes I feel that you aren't affected like me, and some days I feel as if "no one can feel how I feel, he lived in me..." is that selfish??? My daughter, angelina, 6 years old... She says things that make me want to scream, but instead I calm stroke her hair and explain in an age appropriate way, that he loves us and watches us and is happy and safe, even more than we are, because he is with God in Heaven, and that she can talk to him whenever she misses him. She gave.me a strange look and said "Talk to him???" I said "yes, I talk to him and I sing to him" I told her that when I held Christian in my arms to say the longest and shortest goodbye, I very softly, almost whispering, sang "You are my Sunshine, My Only Sunshine" into his ear.... and now I catch my daughter locking herself in the bathroom, talking to him as if she was just sharing her day with a friend, singing to him the song that I sang... and then crying... She is just a child. Still a baby in my eyes. Dealing with something my adult mind cannot fathem. She says and does things... She'll find the tiniest grape and pick it up and say it's Christian. She will see an outfit or a toy and say "I want it for christian." She says "if Christian was here I would..." and inside my mind I SCREAM! "BUT HE ISNT HERE!!!!!!!!" I hate when people speak of my grief and begin with "God" or "God only gives us as much as we can handle, or "its what God had in his plan" because sometimes I feel as if, if God planned this all along, then screw Him! (I apologize if that offends anyone) but how could someone so powerful and mighty and someone we are taught to love and who protects us and guides us and gives us life.... do something so awful and hurtful and traumatizing??? Wtf??? Why! How dare he? What did I do so wrong? So terrible? To deserve this? Is it God? Is there even a God is something so awful can happen to someone so small, so innocent and precious? And if there is a God, and he is responsible, do I want to love and believe in someone that had something to do with changing my children's mother for ever?? Someone who replaced a loving, vibrant, outgoing woman with a woman that doesn't feel like a woman??... :::::SIGH::::: now that I wrote it, I just read it and it sounds angry, bitchy, selfish and antichrist. I'm not that person... I don't know who I am. I just know how I feel. And sometimes I dont.... I feel like the planet is on fast forward and I am on Pause but somehow still moving. I'm not on slow motion, just pause. Luke I'm the only survivor after an apocalypse. Great, I survived something awful and scary and something that no one else could... but who the hell wants to just "survive".. I am alone in an empty world that only seems bigger now that it's just me. I scream and no one can hear it but yet it still echos. So is my grief a building?? When I first read the question I thought, "yes, an abandoned building hundreds of years old. Old, ruined and damaged, and definately not understood why or how it's still standing. But to some, appreciated and known for its history and true beauty for what it used to be and has potential to be again. Windows boarded up, squeaky floors and shaky foundation, a little bit scary and over time, forgotten.... even to people that pass it every day. Now I relate to the zombie apocalypse. Something scary and ugly and evil. Something that before you experience it, only happens in scary movies. And a sane person can only think "but how? This isn't possible! This can't be real! No one would ever understand if I told them... but who do I tell?? I'm all alone! And how to explain it... it's unexplainable. I am not living. Just surviving. Keeping busy and just waiting until the terrifying zombies creepup trying to swallow my soul. Terribly scared and the silence is deafening. And the constant thought of "now what?"... so maybe I am an abandoned historic building after an apocalypse.... disguised as a mommy, a wife, a daughter, and a friend... best Halloween costume ever.
September 1, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermariella

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