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quietly forward

I don't want to share her anymore.

Initials traced on sidewalks, birth date carved into wood.

MARGOT WAS HERE, inked on my forehead.

Dropping her name like rain, sprinkled over the city, in grocery stores and preschool and dinners with acquaintances.

Neighbors. Bartender. Old friends.

I have another daughter, I'd lament, with downward eyes, searching for a remedy.

It was like this in the beginning. Shouting, screaming, knees in the mud, heart on my sleeve, anything to feel some sort of connection to her.

For months and a year and more months, I wore her story around me like a cloak, heavy and tattered from the daily grind, dark material, drenched in sadness and anxiety. I didn't care how messy it all appeared. There was no choice to put on the cloak, or to share her, to sprinkle her around the city. Grief doesn't give you a choice. I woke up to life without her every day and that reality felt like all there was.

Somewhere along the ticker I’ve gone quiet. The pulse of my sorrow still beats, steadily, methodically, but sharing her so freely feels uncomfortable now, like it’s a violation of our intimacy.  

Shhhhhhh Daddy, I imagine her whispering, they don't need to know.

Suddenly I’m overcome with this urge for privacy, for things left unsaid, for the cloak to whither and fall, for the sidewalks to wash away, for the wood to rot. I want her all to myself. I want the ways she has changed me to be something that I alone know the extent of. I want my thoughts about her kept only for us, sacred secrets between a father and daughter. I want her ashes, the rocks from her river, the remnants from her brief existence to be tucked away, hidden from bystanders, hallowed ground reserved only for a few.

It’s now in the quiet where I find closeness with her, in the whisper of her name, in the privacy of my own thoughts, in the ways in which she has changed me.



Do you ever feel quiet? Do you feel like not sharing your children so much? If so, what brought that on for you? I wonder if some of you might feel somewhat off by the idea of being quiet, of not sharing your chlldren so freely?



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Reader Comments (15)

Mmmm, yes
I often feel quiet. I hesitate sharing too much because of the surroundings of Mia's birth. I'm afraid of negative reactions. And also, I have scars around my heart, pieces that are broken and torn with jagged stitches.
There was a time when I wanted to be loud about my story. I wanted everyone to know what happened. I wanted to yell it through a megaphone. I wanted to paste a "handle with care' sign on my forehead or wear a "i'm in mourning, my baby died" tee shirt. but things happened and I become more confident in what happened and began to trust myself, and i heard that little voice telling me, "They don't need to know."
It happened to me, it mattered to me, and that's all that matters.
February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEmily C
Yes. In one month Freddie should be three. And now I hardly speak of him. It's not that the thoughts are less, or the pain less but he settled in me a little and he's less a drama and a pain to be shared. What I write about now is how he changed me. Three years on I know there is so little and so much of him to say. I hardly feel I started but I don't want to go on.

It hurts, the silence, but it also doesn't.
February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMerry
I can see that, given more time, I'll become quieter. Not yet, but eventually. Perhaps in the future, if (when) we have another child, this need to tell Lauren's story will diminish; there will be new stories unfolding, of which she is still a part. But it will be different. Maybe the need won't be so urgent.

Right now, I find it so hard to resist telling random people. Anyone who wishes me a good day, I want to tell them about Lauren, why I appreciate so much that little phrase they say automatically. Because I'm trying, I'm trying to have a good day. It's not a given anymore.

But there are times when quiet is okay. Among my husband's co-workers, I speak of Lauren only when asked if we have children or if we're planning to have any. Even though I want to take them all by their collars and shake them and tell them to be gentle with him, because he hurts as much as I do, he aches in silence. He tells no one. I don't know what he says when asked about children. Sometimes I don't understand, but sometimes, I do. I want to share her; he wants to keep her close and cherish her. I hope I am that strong someday.
February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSara
This is a beautiful post. I still share my children freely. I think I still need to feel that they are not forgotten or overshadowed by our rainbow. I do think that it’s in the quiet, when I’m alone and thinking of them, wondering what it would be like to have them all at home, that I feel closest to them, though.
February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianna
I think this is probably the first time I've ever commented here, but this one really struck a chord, because I have followed the same path. At first, I wanted people to say his name, to ask me about my dead son - but after the anger and the gut wrenching pain began to subside, I found myself wanting to keep him all to myself. He's mine, and I don't want to share him - certainly not with people who aren't dear to me. He's mine...
February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTrisha
Oh Josh, yes! This is something I knew from the beginning I would struggle with.
Just days after Florence died, a dear beautiful friend sent a parcel from the other side of the world. She had named a star in memory of our girl...and I lost it! I screamed and screamed. I did not want that star. I sobbed that it felt like I had so little of Florence and everyone was staking a claim...that's how it felt then, and sometimes still does now.
Honestly I struggle with getting the balance right, the quiet and the need to include. The intense need for her not to be forgotten.
Like you though, I find her in the quiet. There's never much quiet here, but when there is, there she is.
February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeanette
This is so touching and true. At first I wanted everyone to know-wanted it to be said aloud everywhere I went. But now, almost 2 years out, I want to hide it. Not out of embarrassment or shame, but out of intimacy. He is mine and no one can know him the way I did and so why have others try? I love that I am not the only one who felt this weird swing or shift in emotions. Thank you for sharing this!
February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRyAnne
I feel like this at times. At first, there was raging pain. I was out of my mind with grief, needed to scream it out, tell our story over and over again, I could not stop.

I have been heard, taken care of, fed and nursed, nothing more can be done. Now need to heal, quietlly. I speak about her, but I choose my moments carefully.

Thank you for sharing this with us, Josh, it's precious.
February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterB
i think it is another example of how grief can morph and change over time... what once was unimaginable (like being able to laugh) becomes something that you yearn for, and what you used to cling to (like rituals surrounding each and every important day involved with their pregnancy, conception, birth, death, funeral, etc) at some points in time are not so necessary to revisit as much.

i wanted to share, and quickly realized that not many people were going to understand or be able to carry my burdon of needing to share about my daughter. they said things that were so hurtful, or outrageous, or unhelpful, and it just made me feel mad and disappointed when i talked about her. so, almost by default, i kept her to myself- but i have never lost that primal need to share about her- it just isn't possible to do it. i mean, i could of course, but it just makes people SO uncomfortable and in the end i want to punch them in the face for being so incapable of walking with me down that path.

there are many times that i wish i had a photo with me to show people- a picture of the two headstones, side by side- and stick it in people's faces and say 'LOOK. LOOK. look what i have been thru, look- these are my children!!'. you know, because i carry that feeling with me right under the surface, 8 and 4 years out of losing them- and when people casually say 'hey! how are things going?', i always say 'oh, all is well!'. of course i don't show people that picture. when i go to the cemetery, the spot is so peaceful and i am transfixed by the two of them, my children. they are mine and it is OK that no one knows and i don't tell anyone. it is ok.

but it changes, it has changed, and it will continue to change. i imagine at some point i will be able to share about them with people, and be able to move beyond my anger about humanity in general and our lack of cultural understanding about grieving and death. i know my therapist has been able to do this- she lost her adult son to murder, and she is able to speak of him in regular-voice conversation, very matter of fact, which is how i wish i could talk about coral and anton. they didn't have baby, or toddler, or child, or adult, lives, but they are just as important to me as if they did.

i think what i DON'T want to have happen is to fall into a psychological trap of needing to keep them close to my bones, and mistake that for hiding what happened, like a shame or to bury the event in the hopes that life will be easier that way. i can see that happening, or the temptation, because it would be a lot easier or lighter or more convenient to have it as if none of this ever happened. like in 'eternal sunshine of the spotless mind'.
February 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterss
This is absolutely gorgeous. It rings so honest, and it resonates so much with my own heart.

"The pulse of my sorrow still beats, steadily, methodically, but sharing her so freely feels uncomfortable now, like it’s a violation of our intimacy.

Shhhhhhh Daddy, I imagine her whispering, they don't need to know."

There's freedom in this. There really is.
March 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterL
Wow, this really struck a chord with me bc I feel very much the same, although I didn't even realize it. I knew I wanted to stop writing so freely about my feelings. I knew I didn't want to broadcast that anymore, hence why I stopped blogging. But I do still like people to talk about Hayes and say his name. And I like to say it too. I don't ever want it to be forgotten. But I also don't want to scream it from the rooftops anymore. I prefer the intimacy of discussing him with close friends and not the world. I don't think I had put all of that together before reading this, so thank you for your insight, as always. Love to you and the fam.
March 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMolly
What I have learned is that I cannot make other people feel my pain. Talk about it (or be obviously, intentionally quiet), and no one can feel it. Everyone is so wrapped up in their own lives - either their own major burdens or trivial stuff - that they rarely can connect to the story. So I don't tell it. I do keep my son's story to myself lately.
March 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLeigh
Yep, this. Things have moved and changed and evolved so much for me over the almost five years, that not only have I grown practically mute, I can barely summon up the energy to even leave a comment on a blog anymore.
What's left to say? Nothing changes. It is all the same. She's still dead and always will be. I think that's what keeps me quiet in real life, too. That there is nothing new to share. The story ended so painfully and abruptly and all I did was spew pain and grief and sorrow for so many years, that eventually it just wore me down. I still feel the same inside, but I can keep it controlled more now I guess.
Beautiful words my friend.
March 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSally
Beautiful. It does change. I can't put my finger on when or why but my ability and willingness to talk about his death changed over the years. Thanks for these words.

Remembering Margot.
March 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMonique
I still like to say his name, to hear his name spoken. I no longer need to pour out my pain or to have my loss recognized. But the two are different. The latter has to do with my grieving process - I can now stand on my own two feet, without the support of others. But speaking of Stefan, my beautiful boy, that has to do with his memory. And I'll never stop hoping that his brief life leaves a legacy beyond my heart alone.
March 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMira

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