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Parents of lost babies and potential of all kinds: come here to share the technicolour, the vividness, the despair, the heart-broken-open, the compassion we learn for others, having been through this mess — and see it reflected back at you, acknowledged, understood.

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Monday
May202013

So Glad You Were Mine

Every summer, as the days went from wet-warm to dry-hot, the anxiety would begin to bubble inside of me as we approached the August 1st anniversary of Roxy’s birth and death. I wouldn’t even recognize what was happening at first. I’d just be irritable and jumpy, mad at the sun. I compare it to a long-standing pain one might have in their spine… an injury that never left. You forget about the pain. In some ways, you get used to it, but it darkens your mind.

Terra and I established a tradition of escape beginning with the first anniversary of Roxy’s death. We would go to the tree that was planted in a park in her honor, tie our balloons,  lay down our flowers and then we’d swoop up Mason (and eventually, Lila) and run away from home for a couple of days. We’d avoid everyone and everything. We’d stay distracted. It was strategy. We’d survive our grief the best way we could.

As year 5 approached in the summer of 2012, the pattern remained. The heat triggered the slow, silent, terrible build inside me. A 2-month crescendo, ending in collapse with anger and terror tangling further into the fabric of my heart until there was no room for anything else.  The pattern was becoming exhausting. I wanted to change it. With Terra’s blessing, we planned something slightly different.

Our extended families met us in the park at Roxy’s tree. For the first time, we brought Roxy’s photos. I have been viciously protective of these pictures in the past. I was always concerned someone would see only a dead baby, and not the stunningly beautiful daughter that she was to us. Some days, I didn’t even trust myself to look at them for this reason. I was filled with fear heading to the park, but we desperately, finally wanted this day to be about remembering and honoring our daughter and not just surviving our own grief. Or, at least, we wanted to give it a shot.

I could not have foreseen the magic that was coming.

Mason (age 9) very sweetly asked to see Roxy’s pictures and very sincerely wanted to participate in what we were doing.

When we talked to Lila (age 3) about Roxy, she said “was she a girl or a boy? Oh I think she turned into a tree. I’m going to look for her."

We had found and brought several copies of her birth record with her hands and feet printed on them, which took everyone’s breath away. We gave copies to the grandparents and aunts, and it felt so good to be able to give them a piece of her.

We brought helium balloons. We wrote messages to her on them and let them go into the air. Right as we released them into the sunlight, a dragonfly swooped down in front of us. Dragonflies were the primary theme in which Terra had decorated Roxy’s bedroom. I don’t believe in angels or ghosts (well, maybe ghosts), but there was something of her that felt really, truly there with us.

For the first time, I felt grateful for it all. Grateful for having been Roxy’s father. For having gotten to hold her, meet her, even if she had already departed. I finally felt that there was more than just pain there, in my heart where she continued to live. She was more than just pain, and I was so glad she was mine. When I got home that evening, I wrote this song. (I apologize, it’s kind of a rough mix.)

SO GLAD YOU WERE MINE

There were no birds on their branches

And there was nothing in your eyes

I’m so glad you were mine

Your skin was cracked at the elbow

And your blood was the reddest wine

I’m so glad you were mine

I meditate with the spirit

And I’m sheltered in her vines

I’m so glad you were mine

The ritual that brings you comfort

Is the lion that eats you alive

I’m so glad you were mine

August never offers mercy

And September never comes on time

I’m so glad you were mine

The wincing has gone fishing

And now I miss the knife

I’m so glad you were mine

There are no waves upon this ocean

It’s unkind

And the stillness of the water

It is nothing compared to mine

There are so many ways to suffer

And so many ways to die

I’m so glad you were mine

There are so many ways to suffer

And so many ways to die

I’m so glad you were mine

What kinds of ritual(s) do you have in place to remember the child or children you've lost? Have those rituals changed over time? 

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Reader Comments (13)

Thank you. I am so glad he is mine.
May 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJulie
I do feel honored and blessed that such a beautiful child was given to me. I am so glad that she was mine. I try to hold onto to those feelings when the grief of losing her is pulling me under. But even if I could relive the whole experience, and knew that she would die and I could do nothing about it, I would still want to be her mom for those amazing 32 weeks, to feel her grow and move inside of me, to learn her little personality, to give birth to her and hold her for those precious hours, I would do it all again in a heartbeat, because I am so glad that she was mine.
May 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGrace's Mom
We go for a long hike together on our Lily's birthday/death day. We choose a new place every year and release balloons with our messages of love written on them. We eat a special dinner and the kids make a birthday cake for her. The weeks leading up to it are still very hard, but choosing to celebrate her and her short life make things a little easier. She is a member of our family, we talk about her and to her often. Celebrating helps our living children (15, 5 & 8mo) connect with their sister in the sky.
May 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnna
Kenny, I think this is my most favorite one so far. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful family with us.

We have many things we do that keep AdiaRose right in the heart of our family every day. Her second birthday will be in September. It will be very special. We are so glad that she is ours, and I too would not trade her for the world, would not give up the chance I had to love her and be the mom and the family where she chose to manifest her beautiful being in this world. I would not trade what I know now for what I didn't know then. It hurts, it is hard, but there is so much beauty, there is so much more, because of her.
May 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJen
Such an amazing post and song - I have a feeling I'll be listening to it over and over come August. Thank you for sharing. I'm glad that this year was different, that your family was able to gather and remember Roxy together, and that it felt right.
May 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterErica
Thank you Kenny, that was really beautiful and a credit to you. tears rolled down my face watching. You have a beautiful family and thanks for sharing your most intimate and special moments with us.

Our first anniversary is this August and if we were able to celebrate and honour our little man even a fraction of the way you have done for Roxy it would mean so much.
May 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLucy
That song was so beautiful. My heart just melts listening to it. I love you all so much. I am so proud of all of you. It is an honor to be your mom and Roxy's Mimi. This is one of my favorite posts. I am so glad you are mine. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post and song. It is so precious. Love, Mom
May 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMOM
Kenny, your mom and I have been friends since nursing school. I am always stunned by what a wonderful family you have been and continue to be. Thank you, and your family for sharing this.
May 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Sypult
This post was absolutely stunning. It brought tears to my eyes and your lyrics, " I'm so glad you were mine" , YES. Absolutely YES. As much as I want her here, I would NEVER wish away her existence and missed out on all the joy she brought to my husband, our families and me while I carried her. She is my forever baby.. my first, my darling, my precious Simone.

We've only had 2 anniversaries, but we are active people and as such, we've been running trail/road races on our daughter's anniversary. For her first, my husband found a 1/2 marathon on the day of her anniversary in GA. It was the first race either of us had run that had signs posted, " Beware of alligators". For her second, we ran the "DirtyBird 15k" in the mountains of PA. This year, it is my hope that we'll be welcoming her sibling into the world, and that my husband will be the only one able to run this year.
May 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersme
Kenny, as always, you have nailed it with your gentle words and music. I, too, am grateful to be able to share this small portrait of your lovely family and the ritual you shared for Roxy's 5th. Magical indeed. I join the ranks of the tears-running-down-my-cheeks.

Last summer on Marlo's first birthday, the build-up was down right oppressive. I dwelled on it in my mind on a daily basis for several months beforehand. When the day finally came, I (luckily) remembered to remind myself and everyone else that the day was not to be about the sadness she left, but the joy that she brought. The joy of her was indescribable. We got to be with her for 4 days. Four days that will never be forgotten. The day turned out to be perfect. I brought her album to her garden, some family joined us, we cooked out and had a wonderful outdoors day.

This year my strategy for the build-up (which I believe to be far worse in many ways than the actual day) is a creative project, involving any and all who will participate -- we are going to cover her garden in knitting graffiti. I am going to fill it so full with color that the bees and butterflies won't know what to do with themselves. This year the dreaded build-up feels empowering and filled with love that happens every time i open up an envelope from someone somewhere sending me a square for the garden graffiti.

The flipside, of course is dealing with the crash afterward, but one day at a time. To echo your words, as many here have -- I'm so glad she is mine. Thank you again, Kenny.
May 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLi
This was such a beautiful, heartfelt post. Thank you for sharing such a precious, personal part of your family. Our ritual has changed over time, but I still try to honor the five children I miscarried by lighting candles, praying, and writing on their due dates and the dates I miscarried them. This most recent one is still so painful to deal with and I had a difficult time on Mother's Day and dread his due date in August. My husband and I are buying some brick pavers at a memorial garden for infant and child loss to memorialize our 5 angels and as a place to go to "be with them" and introduce their memories to our 3 living children. I wish I had pictures. I wish I had held them in my arms.
May 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAutumn
Kenny,
Thank you for the beautiful and uplifting post. I too have found the anniversaries to take on a different meaning with time (we just had our 3rd anniversary of losing Cypress). And for the feeling of gratitude for having known him and to be his mother that has finally started to grow in me.

I also wanted to say that I live in Bloomington and have been trying to track down your email to invite you to a picnic we are coordinating for parents and families who have had losses. Feel free to email me so I can send you an invite. Thank you. --Krista
sfkrista@gmail.com
May 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKrista
So amazing to read all these comments. It's always a bit unnerving at first, sharing the meaning behind these songs. Reading your responses here, and your stories makes it really feel worthwhile and valuable. Thank you all!

Also, hi Krista! My email is thegentlemancaller@gmail.com - such a cool thing to do.
May 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKenny

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