Sometimes it is hard to breathe. The weight of my son’s loss sits heavy on my chest and I am drowning. Occasionally, I come up for air. One day, then two or three pass and I am my old self: happy, active, normal… And then I sink again in the waters of harsh thoughts and words, flailing wildly for any kind of buoy against the despair.

The hardest thing in life to accept is the fact there are no guarantees. If I could do things over, there is no guarantee my son would have survived past those initial 34 minutes. This, I think, is the way it was meant to turn out — a life-change not followed through, an ending instead of a beginning. For whatever reason, this was how it was supposed to be.

I wish God would take it all away. My pregnancy, my memories, all of it. My life-wrecking desire to be a mother. It makes me feel like crap to admit, but I want it gone. I can’t let go of it by myself, but God is not listening to me and so it sits there, festering like a sore. I want my son, I miss him, but I don’t get him back and I can’t stop missing him no matter how hard I try. Everything reminds me of how it all fell short, and I can’t help but wonder if I was right all those years ago when someone asked me if I would ever have children and I said it probably wasn’t in the cards. My son’s death feels like evidence, hard proof of the twisted truth in that statement. And it hurts all the more, like salt in an open wound. My motherhood was not supposed to be, may never be. I have to learn to accept that. Acceptance is hard and heavy, and yet again, I cannot breathe.

On the days I cannot breathe, I spend every moment fighting back tears. They sit so very close to the surface. It takes all the strength I have to make it through a simple visit to the grocery store. Word has spread like wildfire, and I am now The Woman Who Lost Her Baby. Don’t think I don’t notice you staring at me. I see you. I see your pity. You are too chicken to approach me. I wish it wasn’t so, because I appreciate knowing you care. I appreciate knowing I am not as alone as I feel.

Or, conversely, I see your accusation written on your face. Always, you’re too chicken, but I dare you. Say it was all my fault. Lambast and blame my husband for letting me stay active around the farm. Say that God punishes sinners or whatever it is you are thinking. Say it and you will pick your teeth up one by one off the floor. Don’t think I wouldn’t, either. I may be soft-spoken and quiet, but I am made of steel.

And yet I am wounded in ways unbelievable for all my iron strength. Cut deep into my core, beyond the reach of my guitar and the music in my hands. God has left me that way despite my pleas for relief, and so every day is an exercise in self-control. I breathe in, I breathe out. I can’t tell when the next wave will hit, so I take the moments when my head is above the water.

10 thoughts on “Breathe

  1. I am fairly certain you are familiar with the poem Footprints in the Sand. Always remember that God is always there carrying you through the hard stuff when you can only see that one set of footprints. You have nothing to be blamed for. American women have been doing farm work all their lives with no breaks for pregnancy. All women have. They stop long enough to have the child and back they go. Not so long ago more women were familiar with your pain than not. You are healthy and smart and talented. Amen!

  2. Still thinking about you. I know we have only been connected through the library, but each day I go with hopes that you will be there. I am sending positive thoughts and hopes and wishes your way each time you enter in my thoughts.

  3. Oh Heather, my heart breaks for you. I know the pain you are going through. I know the thoughts, what we think others are thinking of us. The wish that people would acknowledge that you have a son. He has a name. Not pretend that nothing happened. I realize people don’t know what to say. They want to ask, they want to acknowledge it, but they don’t know if it will hurt or help. I just want to wear a sign that says “ask me…it’s ok”. We have to talk about our children, because if we hold it inside, we will burst. Praying for you constantly.

    1. That’s exactly right, Evie. No one has really asked about Michael — he’s just my “baby” or “baby boy.” I want to tell them how beautiful he was, about his red hair and everything… And it’s so awkward sometimes. There was one lady who asked what happened and how was I doing and gave off all the body language like she wanted to know… so I talked… And as I talked, I realized that I’d misread her, that she hadn’t really wanted to know anything, she was just asking to be nice. It’s so hard to know how to navigate this twisted little path we must walk!

      Thank you for the prayers. I’ve been keeping you in my thoughts as well.

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