There are the nightmares. It had been so long. I almost forgot them. My children kidnapped, shot. I stand in front of the masked men, offer myself up, belly first, like a fertility sacrifice. I wake in a start. I tap into the collective consciousness, the collective anxiety. I tap into the anxiety that is always there. That anxiety resides right in my chest in the place where, when Lucia died, a dragon woke. He coughs little impotent puffs of smoke. 

You can never protect your babies. Not really, his raspy voice whispers. I will wake in you, breathe fire, swoop in low, carry them off. I will fight until your death for them, but only if I can see. So much I cannot see.

Vulnerability seeps out my pores. I dampen shirts with it. The dragon thinks there is real danger, so I dampen him too. I wrap my children in bubble wrap, place them on a low shelf. They tear through my packing tape, giggling and stir-crazy.


They run wild, climb walls, jump and twirl and become trapeze artists, skydivers, lion tamers, lumberjacks. And they want to go to school. And I can only see them sitting there while madmen shoot into locked doors. They will always seek freedom and independence the more I seek isolation and protection. I know because I was once them.

Twenty children died on Friday in Connecticut. Another twenty-two children were attacked in China by a knife-wielding man. It happened in a primary school as well. None were killed. As the news came in on Friday, I sat in my daughter's elementary school auditorium, my cell phone video recorder pointed at the stage, watching class after class of children walk onto stage singing holiday songs. It was terrible knowing the news, but I hadn't heard any of the details. I could only think of how small each of them looked, even the big ones. So much smaller than I remember being. When I arrived home, I read that one full class at Sandy Hook had been massacred. I shudder. I visualize one whole class from my town. I just sat in front of six classes of students ages 5-10--their parents hopeful, proud, delighted, enchanted, trusting. It is too much to think about. I turn away, ashamed that I cannot stare at the grief, not completely at first. It takes me a few hours to turn fully toward the young lives, to read the names of the dead, to see their faces. And when I do, the grief steamrolls me, the anxiety overtakes me, the dragon wants blood.

photo by pirindao.

I face east, like Maoi, waiting for answers. The spring moves in, damp and alive, reminding me of tomorrow. I ask the dragon, but he's reeling too. "Nothing to be done," he grumbles. Then south, the deserts offer me a dry breeze, thorns and poison and the elements of survival. The west offers me a damp cloth, and a sip of tea. "Catch your breath, child. I have no answers either." Finally north. I plant my feet firmly on earth, bellow a guttural, throaty noise, more animal than human. The earth opens, slowly I sink until just my eyes stand above ground. No more questions. There are no answers in the snow and frost. Not in the cold. Not in the desert. Not in the sea. Not in the quarters, not in the elements. They understand nothing of humans. The murders are senseless.  I grapple with my footing again. Four years later. The silence cruel and unnerving.

You must look within, the wind creaks. You must look within. You must look for the place that weeps, the place that hides, and ask it to release you. You must answer the question yourself. You must face that grief, because it is another expression of love. There is great beauty in this world. Look at it longer than the murders. Look at the people holding one another. Look at them longer than the murderer.

I weep for the mothers and fathers, the siblings, the grandparents, for the humans who miss everything now, who have to rebuild themselves, who have to find a reason to get out of bed, who have to go through a first year, who have to come to December, like me, and mourn their children. I tear up thinking of the journey they will lead, the peace that will never come. My own loss seems so small, so meaningless. And that is okay. It is. But it was seismic to me, catastrophic even. 

Lucia is dead four years on Friday. All of these losses coexist and don't battle for dominance. My grief and their grief and the grief of a nation, the world. I have to sit with undeniable truths. In this world, babies die. Twenty innocent children die together in the place that everyone considered safest for them. All this mingles together, jumbles up, and I forget for whom I am mourning. And it doesn't matter. Perhaps I should have always been mourning for all the children who die before they've lived, who die by the hands of violence, who die by the random placement of umbilical cords in wombs, who die by knives on the other side of the world. And I was.

My husband and I held each other and cried. Blubbered, even. It has been a long time since we have done that. We talked about the school shootings. "I can't imagine losing a five year old. I couldn't handle it, Angie. I couldn't." 

I know. I couldn't either, except I would have to, and so would you. Because before she died, we said the same, and then we did.

There is nothing left of comfort. It is meaningless, and besides, we need something more than comfort. We need hope, a sheer idiotic belief in something. I take Mr. Roger's advice to look for the helpers, the assistants, the compassion, the grief, the expressions of love, the people throwing themselves in front of bullets, so children don't die. And I think of this babylost community, who holds each other in the face of grief, lights candles, abides when people no longer will. Compassion is all that is left of good.


Please use this space to share the ways in which the news of the murders in Connecticut have affected you, your family, and your grief. 

Double cherry

When we were


I told on her

And another one of

Our friends for

Being slightly


About my

New blue blazer.

She was in my class

Very smart

Straight A’s

All the way.

Like me

She struggled

With her body image

Like me

She had a wild heart

That loved the wrong men

Like me

She was ambitious, strong

Worked long, rose high

Like me

Her baby died

And as I stood by her side

As she said goodbye

I wished that we were


Has anyone close to you also had a baby or babies that died? How did that affect you in your own grief?

Her Ashes Will Ride In My Glove Compartment

My second daughter died on our sidewalk. Just a few steps from our front door.

Everything was fine and then it was over.

I walk over that patch of land nearly every single time I leave the house. My firstborn daughter rides her scooter over the spot, back and forth, screaming and hollering as she glides down the path. Our bedroom is in the front of the house, as close to the scene as you can get without being outside. A street lamp shines through our curtains in the darkness, like a beacon, as if it shines to remind me. Crickets hop between grass and concrete and I can hear them chirp, chirp, chirping away, into the evening and throughout the night.

The slab of concrete where she died just sits there idly still, two feet by two feet, day after day, gray and lifeless.

I thought my home would be ruined for me after she died. I thought it would be impossible to spend every day and night in the exact same place where her life abruptly ended. I wondered how I could avoid walking on that stretch of cement, how I could ever step foot on it without wanting to weep, or build a monument, or take a sledgehammer to it.

I wondered if this city would be ruined for me too.

I'm realizing now, after twenty-one months without her, that these places are all I have.

This was the last place she was alive. It was the last place our living bodies came into contact as I hugged her Mother, my belly against her body, a few minutes before it was over.

It's here in my home, here in this city where I've bonded with her through support group and countless conversations with my wife, through experiencing her with our friends and grieving with my living daughter, by watching my subsequent son being born in the exact place his sister died. We may not have brought a living daughter home from the hospital, but we have spent month after month parenting her, connecting with her, here in this place, even in her absence.


In two weeks time, we will be packing up our meager possessions and moving from Los Angeles to Indianapolis, some two thousand miles to the East.

Los Angeles is where she was conceived, on a blistering July night, bedroom windows open. Los Angeles is where she miraculously grew and where we first saw her and where we felt her kick and where we set up her nursery. And Los Angeles is where she died on an overcast Thursday afternoon. It’s where we last held her and where we said goodbye. It’s the place we faced our greatest darkness, the place our friends whispered her name and lavished us with understanding and kindness. It’s where we spread her ashes, where we have spent night after night talking and crying over our lost baby girl. And we’re leaving it all behind.

The sidewalk isn’t coming with us. Neither is the river where we spread her ashes or the home where we mourned her. Our friends, the ones who selflessly trudged with us through the pain, the ones who know as much as you can really know, they aren’t coming either. The street lamp will continue burning brightly and the crickets will keep chirping and we will be long gone from the only place on earth that I really knew her.

And it scares the hell out of me.

How will we make friends with people who don’t know this part of our story? How will we handle a place that shows no sign of her? How will we feel connected to her in a place she’s never been?


The packing list for what we will take in our car includes three things so far:

travel pack n’ play
leo mattress

The only thing I know to do, as I leave my home, is to take her with me. In whatever ways I can, in whatever form, however possible it may be. Her ashes will ride in my glove compartment. The rocks from her river will be in a glass jar on the floor near my feet. Her necklace and ornament and the framed picture of water will be carefully packed, safe and sound in the back seat.

And truth is, there ain’t nothing a move can change about the girl who resides in my fractured heart, the girl who has left me for better and for worse. She is there regardless of geography. Regardless of happiness or a subsequent child or death or moving or Christmas presents. I'm the one who carries her memory.

Perhaps that will be enough.


Have you moved away from the place where your children lived and died? What was it like? Did it change the way you grieved, the way you thought about them? Can you imagine moving from the place you experienced your loss?


The truth is, my whole life is a process of learning to live this life I did not ask for, want, or ever dream of at any point in my youthful visions. How has your understanding of God, Higher Power and/or grace changed after the death of your baby or babies? What is your relationship with the idea of grace, or stories about "miracles"? Are you jealous of people with faith?

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fortune tellers


I root for each fortune teller I meet.

Say her name. Lucy. Lucia. Say it. Mention her.

photo by ManWithAToyCamera.


I am like a magpie, and their blinking neon sign the shiny thing I must peck. I am drawn to the gypsy caravan, the crystal ball, the smell of sage and incense, the Zoltar machine, and aura of pure indigo. Each one talks about my failing writing career and my husband, artwork and my marriage, how I myself am psychic, and destined to be a reader myself. Nothing about the daughter that died.

Channel her. Speak her words, share (what must be) her stilted, strange wisdom of never having breathed, yet so grieved. Channel her.

The five buck psychic asks me for a question, and I tell her about Lucia. How she died in me, and how my husband wants another baby, and I am scared this baby will die too. Right before he is born. (This was eight months out from her death, but it feels like today.) I wanted to know why she died. Science failed me. There is no physical reason my daughter died, but surely, there is a metaphysical one. I found the five buck psychic on-line. She sends me her reading four days later. She tells me that Lucia is a Buddha and that she chose me for her last life, so she could heal old wounds, the ones that need the comfort and unconditional love of a womb experience. And she knew that I would be strong enough to handle her death. It was the soul contract we made. I read her email aloud on the way to the airport. We were flying to Panama for a week, taking our grief on vacation.

"Do you find that comforting?" I asked my husband. Unsure if I should be offended or reassured.

"Yes. It is comforting." We were comforted for the rest of the day. The next day, we ceased being comforted and were back to relentless discomfort of baby-death, grief, angst, fear, anxiety, and bitterness.

Still, I find that idea most comforting of all the ideas posited by the religions of the world--that my baby is a holy woman, a wise soul, an awakened being, a Buddha. Her soul released from suffering. That I gave her unconditional love, that she choose this life because I was strong and loving and earth mother-y. Further, I found the idea that I choose this life comforting. Of course, it arrogantly supports the vision I have of myself as capable, loving, selfless, in control, powerful, rather than the truth of it which is that I am chaotic, frightened, humbled, mediocre, out of control, powerless. I found out later that this idea is a Hindu understanding of stillbirth, that the baby who chooses to be stillborn is in their last life before achieving moksha, before being released from the samsara, the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

Still, that first psychic gifted me with a moment of solace. It wasn't enough, though, I wanted to hear about her from her. I wanted to hear her voice. And so I began my hero's journey through the metaphysical world. In the last three years, I have consulted psychics, tarot readers, astrologers, fortune tellers, palmists, hair readers, angel channels, auric interpreters, shamans and medicine women every few months hoping for a message from my daughter.  And not one of them, until two weekends ago, mentioned my daughter without my prompting. She is gone. Her energy doesn't reside in mine. But I still rooted for them. I thought hard as they pulled cards, sat still in meditation.

All of my writing, my artwork, my entire life changed after I pushed her dead six pound body out of my vagina, surely you can see this on my soul, in my aura. It must be etched in gold, or charred and blackened in the parts of me that once shone. Surely, you must feel it when you touch my hair, look into my palm, read the tea leaves. I can see it, even the cheesemonger can see it when I ask for a pound of provolone. Just say her name. I believe you can.

I watch these psychic shows when no one is around. They are my guilty pleasure. The one with the lady with long fingernails, talking like a mobster. She channels stillborn children here and there, and despite myself I weep, blubber almost. I watch her in the middle of the night, on-demand, so no one can see me almost blubbering. It is babylost porn. She tells the grieving mothers mundane things mostly, confirmation that their children are around them. I just want that. A confirmation of something--that she lived, that she died, that we grieve, that she is a person with a soul, or rather perhaps that I am.


We wear headphones and microphones. It is the Mind-Body Expo and we are nestled on the second floor on the football stadium, tucked in the corner next to the Tibetan arts table. Here there are psychics and soul artists, channels and astral journeyman, reiki masters and healers in modalities I have never heard of, tables of jewelry purporting to open your third eye or connect you to the Akashic records. My sister signs up to see a shaman women. She is barefoot and beats a drum. I waited for the "World Renown Psychic Medium," as her sign states. I read laminated newspaper articles on her table while I waited. She found many missing persons. Well, three.

I have a missing person.

She whispers, "Can you hear me?"

"Yes." My own voice startles me. She tells me about her process and that she will be talking fast. I get a chill and she begins. She tells me that my grandparents are stepping forward.

She holds my hands in her own, and says, "Your grandfather is here. He is holding up two fingers, then a third. Do you have two or three children?"

 I gulp.

"I have two living children, and a child that died."

"Okay. I see you have two in spirit. The miscarried one is a boy. He said he liked the name Michael." That is the only name on our boy list during this last pregnancy so convinced I was that the growing dot in me was a girl. Michael is my grandfather's name. The hairs are standing up on my neck, and in my gut, I know that is true now.

"Your daughter will be reincarnated as your oldest daughter's first child, and your son will be your second grandchild. They will be part of your family again. They have always been part of your family."

The tears fall unself-consciously. I want this all to be true. I want Lucia to be a Buddha, while simultaneously and selfishly, I want her to come back.  I want to hold her again, some day, even as an old woman. I want to bathe her, and feed her rice and beans. It wasn't her voice, but it was the hope that I may see her again. And maybe that was enough.


Tell me about your experience. Have you consulted a psychic, channel, medium, palm reader, tarot reader, or other metaphysical worker for insight into your grief? What were you told? Was it comforting or disconcerting? If not, have you considered it? What holds you back?


Lila told me once that she thought Roxy was a tree, and said that she would look for her. Writers throughout history have used trees as symbols of age and wisdom. I think about how Roxy has brought me too much of both, yet somehow I am still grateful. Since your baby's or babies' death, is anxiety or fear part of your communion with your baby? How has your level of fear or anxiety increased? Decreased? What effects has it taken on your interactions with living children or family? 

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