loss

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We’re on full-fledged Baby Watch 2015, and in honor of my pregnancy that is now 39 weeks 1 day, I’m publishing a post from September that’s been sitting in my drafts folder.

The lasting affects of miscarriage  |  nextlifechapter.com

I can see my feet if I’m sitting down and I swing them way out.

 

After I wrote this post back in March I intended to write an entire series on my experience with miscarriage, but then, I got pregnant. (Maybe part of it was that I didn’t feel emotionally ready to talk about miscarriage and “out myself” until I was able to start trying again.)

Since I had a history of miscarriage, my midwifery practice let me have an early ultrasound at seven weeks. This is about as early as a heartbeat can be detected. When I was pregnant with Adelaide I didn’t get that reassuring ultrasound until 12 weeks and that’s one of the factors that made my first miscarriage so devastating–I didn’t find out the pregnancy wasn’t viable until 12 weeks into it.

For those of you who haven’t been pregnant before, you’re considered about four weeks pregnant when you miss your period (depending how regular your cycles are) and that’s about the time you can get a positive pregnancy test. Doctors and midwives usually track your pregnancy by the first day of your last period. Most women don’t know the exact date they conceived, but the first day of your last period is a date most women can figure out (especially those actively trying to conceive). So, when you ovulate, you’re already “2 weeks pregnant”–at least for tracking purposes.

Anyway, I say this because between the time of getting that positive pregnancy test and then getting that early seven-week ultrasound, is about three weeks. Three very long, anxiety-ridden weeks. Weeks where you figure out your due date and think about all that would mean, while at the same time trying not to get your hopes up, trying not to think too much about the future, trying to stay “in the moment.”

During those three weeks I thought a lot about mindfulness. Primarily I thought about how little I know about mindfulness and how much I’d like to learn. During those three weeks I told very few people about the positive pregnancy test. Of course, Tim knew. He has been at my side through it all. I even made Tim and Adelaide take photos with the positive pregnancy tests. Adelaide didn’t know what she was holding up for the camera, so no harm done. I also made them do this for the two miscarriage positive pregnancy tests–I’ve kept those images, but they’re hidden on an external hard drive because they just make me sad.

Then, I told my sister (she lives far away but provided moral support over the phone). I also told my friend Brooke. Brooke has been my pregnancy confidant. She is the little sister of my friend Amy who died of cancer a few years ago. Brooke is the same age my sister, and we became friends when Amy got sick and Brooke moved to Philly. Although Brooke doesn’t live here anymore, she has been a great email pen pal. She has been through more than her share of heartbreak and loss (both early and late pregnancy). She was also pregnant this summer and a great voice of positivity–staying positive and thinking about the end result. The mantra: This is the perfect pregnancy. I’m so blessed for my two happy, healthy children.

So, we had that early ultrasound at seven weeks. Unlike my miscarriages, all three components were there. There was 1) a gestational sac 2) something in the gestational sac, and 3) that something had a heartbeat. It was one of the most nerve-wracking days knowing that after the ultrasound we would either be devastated once again or completely ecstatic. The news was good, we were flying high and the next day I had a doctor’s appointment where the midwife said now that a heartbeat had been detected, my chance for miscarriage went from around 25-30% to only 1 or 2%.

Fast forward to now and I’m 26 weeks pregnant. The genetics testing is over, even our 20-week anatomy scan showed “nothing of concern.” Each month at my midwife appointment they check the heartbeat and it has always been great.

Still, I worry. The result of having suffered miscarriage is that I no longer have the naivety of not knowing any better. I know first-hand what loss feels like, and I have witnessed stillbirth once removed as it happened to my dear friend.

A couple of weeks ago, at 24 weeks, I found myself worried to tears over the fact I didn’t feel as if the baby had been moving as much as the several days prior. I know you’re not even technically supposed to be tracking kicks as early as 24 weeks, and I assume that’s because it’s unpredictable. Still, I worried. I worried something was wrong. I worried I would lose her.

 

Now that I’m 39 weeks and anxiously awaiting “the day” at any time, I still worry. I find myself stopping my excitement and holding back on wanting to fill the empty drawers with Adelaide’s hand-me-down newborn clothes. I want to meet this little girl as soon as possible because while pregnant I feel so completely out of control. I want to hold her in my arms and know that she is okay.

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The following is a post I wrote last October 15th, shortly after discovering it was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I wanted to publish this post then, but I chose not to. Part of me wanted to share what had been going on with me and I’m a big believer that raw, vulnerable writing is powerful writing. However, raw, vulnerable writing isn’t always good writing. I guess I just decided to write about my experience on my own terms and not post just because it was some internationally recognized day. As this post sat waiting in my drafts folder, I wrote about loss a couple of times on this blog. Still, I never shared the details of what happened.

Since this October 2013 post, I went on to have another early miscarriage in January. And then, my much anticipated current pregnancy. I’m almost 28 weeks pregnant now, and everything seems to be going well. I feel so blessed, and in some ways my losses seem like bad dreams. Still, I worry. I will worry until I hold this baby in my arms (and then I’ll continue to worry for other reasons). I’m glad people are sharing their stories on this day and every day. Here’s mine:

pregnancy loss

October 15, 2013

This morning on Facebook I discovered that today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I guess it’s a good thing, but boy if I didn’t have to close my door at work so I could cry for a few minutes. You see, the end of summer was a tough one in the Pannell household. When we should have been sharing the news of a new pregnancy–a baby to arrive in mid-March, I was instead telling the few we had shared our happy news with that it wasn’t going to happen.

At around 11 weeks, at my second doctor’s appointment, the midwife couldn’t find a heartbeat. Later that day, from an ultrasound, it looked as if the gestation sac was empty–as in, the embryo didn’t grow beyond a few weeks. I only had five weeks to get used to the idea of bringing a new baby into our family, but I was making plans, getting excited, talking myself into the idea that a March baby would be perfect, that he/she and Adelaide would be the perfect age difference. I bought a winter maternity coat (although used and very inexpensive), I was planning the way we would announce the news to our parents.

The day we found out was an awful day. When I replay the day’s events in my head, I just feel sick to my stomach.

I wasn’t expecting to get pregnant so quickly. I was thinking three years apart would be good for us, but I was kind of hoping to be due a little earlier than July/August so I wouldn’t have to go through another hot summer being eight months pregnant. I thought being due in May or June would be perfect. I figured it would take a few months of trying so we started trying in June. I got pregnant right away and was due March 15 (the Ides of March). When we were due in March I really worried that the kids would be too close together. I had wanted them just shy of three years apart and they were only going to be about 2 years 6 or 7 months (depending on whether or not this second kid was early like Adelaide). Anyway, I had spent those five weeks of being pregnant convincing myself that this March due date was perfect. I thought about a maternity leave in March/April/May and how nice the weather would be. I thought about how we would all have our own birthday months and wouldn’t have to share a joint birthday party. At first I was worried that I had so many summer-ish maternity clothes, but then I bought that winter coat and just planned to wear leggings and cardigans with my summer dresses.

People who are due right around the time I would have been due are now announcing their pregnancies on Facebook and coming out of the woodwork. It sucks because we would have been making the same announcement to all our family and friends and people don’t even know that I would feel sad about it because very few people knew I was pregnant. (And of course, I’m happy for them, just sad for us.) This whole experience has made me more empathetic. My friend H has been struggling with infertility for years now. She finally got pregnant and then had a miscarriage at around 11 weeks. I remember her saying how hard it was as the due date approached. I totally didn’t get it then, but I understand more now. I also understand more now how hard it’s been for her to see so many pregnant women around her all the time (including close friends and co-workers). She’s a great sport and has been supportive, but I know she is hurting too.

I had only known I was pregnant for five weeks, but I was simply heartbroken. I was really starting to get used to the idea of adding that fourth someone to our family.

For two weeks I went through tests (they wanted to make sure that my hormone levels were going down and that the pregnancy wasn’t just much earlier than I thought). I waited for something to happen naturally. On Tuesday, September 3, I had a D&E.

After the procedure, things started to get a little better every day. I still got waves of sadness when I thought about the “what ifs,” and I was still bleeding a little from the surgery so that was a constant reminder. I so wanted to have it all behind me so I could start looking forward to the future. Of course, my head told me we would try again soon and I knew everything would be okay. My heart felt differently some days.

I immediately told my sister and we told our parents (although we hadn’t even told them yet that we were pregnant). I told a few close friends who hadn’t known I was pregnant either. I had to tell a few people at work because I was missing days and closing my door when I got calls from doctors and needing to cry and just not being myself. I’ve received a few nice text messages checking in with me and a couple of cards (thanks, Mom!), but after a week or two had passed it was just like everything was supposed to go back to “normal” when it really hadn’t for me.

At knitting I saw myself making jokes and talking to people about what had been going on that week and it was almost like an out of body experience. Only a couple of people actually knew what was going on, and I didn’t really feel like talking about it with the whole group. I didn’t want to be Debbie Downer, and I didn’t just want to sit and cry in front of everyone. I came home feeling like I had been so fake because there was this HUGE thing that was going on with me and I was just pretending to be okay. Tim was super supportive throughout the whole thing, but he just grieved in such a different way than me. And I think a big part of it is that since it was early in the pregnancy, it wasn’t as “real” for him in the first place. It very much felt like something that happened to “me” and not to “us.”

Now that a month has passed, I’m feeling a lot better and I’m excited for what the future may bring. I’ve leaned on a dear friend who has also experienced loss, and I’ve felt empowered by talking it out with her and doing a little reading on the topic. I thought I might wait to share my story until after we were pregnant again. I didn’t really want to break the sad news until after we had something new to celebrate.

However, I’ve also been reading a lot of personal blogs lately and like with memoir, I am the most touched by the writing that is so very real and raw and honest. I tell my students to make themselves vulnerable in their memoir writing, and last weekend I felt ready to share my story on the blog. I didn’t get around to actually writing about it–sometimes it’s hard to force yourself to bring all those feelings back to the surface when you’ve been doing so well to keep them at bay. Then today, seeing that it was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, and seeing other people post articles like this one from Dear Julesy about what not to say to someone who is grieving or this one from Kathryn Catalino, I was motivated to share my story.

I know that first trimester miscarriages are unfortunately common, but I don’t hear many women talking about them. I guess it’s in part because we don’t know what to say to one another. So, for a weird day of remembrance (there’s a day for everything isn’t there?), I’m glad to share my story if not to just help one other person feel less alone. I’ll take the opportunity to break the silence and stand together to honor and acknowledge all of the lost babies and the wounded parents left behind.

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Amy headshotI can’t let today pass without mentioning my friend Amy who lost her battle with cancer four years ago on Wednesday. Today would have been her 38th birthday. I miss her dearly and think of her often.

She was the staple of our weekly knitting group, but I’m proud to say that we have continued to meet the last four years. We’re going on nearly 9 years now.

I wrote the following essay a few months after she died. It was part of the First Person Arts Museum. The project demonstrated how personal objects can carry memories and stories for the people who own them, and cherished objects can help us remember the loved ones we have lost.

 

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Amy's sock

A single sock. It’s not a rare thing, a sock without a partner. But this sock’s partner in crime wasn’t lost in the black hole combination of washer and dryer; it was never created.

On June 18, 2010, my friend Amy lost her battle with lung cancer at the age of 33—only three days from her 34th birthday and 15 months after her original diagnosis. Fortunately, due to successful early chemo treatments, she was able to return to some sense of normalcy for several months. She went back to work as a nanny, moved back into her Center City apartment, and rejoined our weekly knitting group.

When I first moved to Philly in 2006, Amy was just a friend of a friend who I was told to look up once I got here. “You should call her,” our friend Scott said. “You two would totally get along.”

I did. And we did.

Amy invited me to come to her knitting group although I didn’t even know how to knit. “I’ll teach you,” she said. “Or, you can just come and eat and drink and socialize.”

After the first week of eating and drinking a little too much, I thought it would be best if I had something else to keep my hands occupied. Amy took me shopping and helped me pick out my first knitting needles and the yarn for my first scarf. She taught me to knit and purl and follow a pattern. I made scarves, hats and blankets, and she walked me through my first pair of socks—red socks for my husband, the RedSox fan.

Amy was the heart of our knitting circle. She was the uber knitter—she even lived above Loop, the yarn store on South Street. She knit sample products for them to display in their front windows. She listened to knitting and fiber podcasts and even had a gig knitting sweaters for an artist who had sold a line of sweaters to Anthropologie. We joked that she was the underpaid sweatshop worker as she slaved away to complete two sweaters a week.

Although Amy disliked social networking sites such as Facebook because she didn’t want everyone knowing what she was doing all the time, she was one of the first members of Ravelry, a social site for knitters. Amy tracked all her knitting projects on Ravelry, found patterns, made friends with far away kindred spirits and posted on discussion boards.

When Amy was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer, it of course, came as a shock to us all. But Amy kept her quirky, sarcastic sense of humor and demonstrated so many inspirational qualities until her final moments. In her last year Amy’s mantra was “Life is short. Learn new things.” She created a “hit list” of things she wanted to do, of things to learn, new skills to obtain.  She took an embroidery class, a sewing class, a quilting class. She started a blog and finished some of the books she’s always wanted to read, but had always put off until later.

I feel fortunate that I got to see Amy in the hospital the day before she died. She even mentioned a knitting project she was working on, but said she couldn’t talk about it because it was a secret. After her death, a little digging on Ravelry revealed it was a baby blanket she was knitting for a friend. On Ravelry I also found a finished baby blanket Amy labeled ICCKMA Blanket. I clicked on the project and in the Notes section she had written, “in case cancer kicks my ass blanket–so my yet to be born nieces and nephews will have something from me :)”

In the week after her death, Amy’s family went through the things at her apartment. Overwhelmed by all of the yarn, knitting books, other knitting supplies and unfinished knitting projects, they gave most of it to the knitting group. We were encouraged to take something to remember her by, to use her yarn to knit hats for preemies or blankets for cancer patients, to knit something for ourselves that we would enjoy. In the pile of unfinished projects I found this bright blue sock. I later found it on Ravelry titled “My Tumor Shrunk Socks. Yay!” She started it in June of 2009 when the chemo was working well and the tumor in her lung got smaller. My Tumor Shrunk Socks. Their intricate knit looks almost like lace. They are well above my skill level, but I took them home anyway. They are Amy’s challenge to finish a pair of socks without her. To always be learning new things.

Amy's sock2

 

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InspiredFamilyLogo

On March 22 I attended Inspired Family: A Mindful Parenting Conference. According to the website, “Inspired Family aims to give parents the space to dialogue with experts and each other on the topics that matter to you, from your pre-natal experiences through infancy and toddlerhood.” It was billed as, “48 workshops, 40+ vendors and resources, swag bags and giveaways.” And in full disclosure, as a blogger I received free admission.

The morning’s keynote speaker was Carla Naumburg, PhD, a clinical social worker, mother and writer. Her book, Parenting in the Present Moment: How to Stay Connected, Sane, and Focused on What Really Matters will be released this fall. Although “mindful parenting” was part of the conference title, I have to admit that until I heard the keynote, I wasn’t familiar with mindfulness as a practice. I mean, I knew mindfulness in the dictionary-definition sense: “aware of something that may be important.” I thought it was about being present in the moment and about making parenting choices with purpose. I didn’t understand that mindfulness is a meditative practice and you can take trainings and study it with experts. In fact, after further research following the conference, I learned Philadelphia has a Mindfulness Institute at Thomas Jefferson Hospital, the region’s leading provider of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs. The following is a description from their website:

Mindfulness is about paying attention. It’s about living your life in the richness of right now, not being lost in memories of the past or overwhelmed by the worries or projections of the future. It’s a simple practice that strengthens the mind’s ability to stay focused on what is happening right now and to be open to experience — meeting the present moment with kindness and nonreactivity.

Reading that was an “a-ha” moment for me. I’m actually dumbfounded that I hadn’t discovered this practice before. A mindfulness-based stress reduction program sounds like something I could really benefit from. And learning how to overcome the worries or projections of the future and not let them overwhelm me is something that could have been helpful during the last six months as I’ve grieved my miscarriages. As I’m sure is true for many people, it’s hard for me to let go of things that are out of my control. Staying focused on the present is something I’ve been trying to do, but I didn’t have a name for it.

This discovery was my big takeaway from the conference. I attended many of the workshop sessions and tried to absorb as much as I could. I left feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the information I was given. I still have my swag bag filled with papers I want to go through and notes I want to review. But, I left feeling extremely positive and thankful that my husband watched my daughter and allowed me to have an entire day dedicated to self-care and learning.

The day’s workshops were split into five categories: Prenatal, Infancy, Toddlerhood, Self-Care, and Family. I spent most of the day in the Self Care and Family rooms. I was interested in some of the Prenatal workshops, but since I’m not actually pregnant yet, I only attended one of those sessions.

“Five Legal Documents Every Parent Needs to Feel Secure” was the first session I attended. I was looking for coffee so I got there a little late. Still, it rightfully scared me and I now feel the necessity to create a will and other legal documents. The lawyer running the session didn’t mention cost. I know expense is what would be prohibitive for me setting up the documents, but his examples convinced me of their importance.

I had a tough time deciding between “Taming the Toxins: Creating Better Health through Simple Changes around Your Home” and “Pregnancy after Loss: A Creative Arts Based Model for Loss and Life.” I chose the later because it was the only session that mentioned pregnancy loss. It was lead by Heidi Lengel from Interlude Music Therapy Services. Heidi is also a Certified Birth and Bereavement Doula (I didn’t even know Bereavement Doulas were a thing!). Only a small group attended the session and it was just perfect. I have to say that I was moved to tears by the song Heidi shared. I was glad to sit in the back of the room by myself, and I felt touched by her understanding and hopeful words.

Since I missed Xandra O’Neill’s toxins workshop, I attended her second session titled, “Taming the Myth of the Super Mom for the Mom You Want to Be.” I think the toxins workshop would have been a better fit for me, but I still enjoyed her inspiring words and she was kind enough to give me the handout from her previous workshop. I was already familiar with Xandra and her Womb to World Wellness business because we are both members of Philadelphia Social Media Moms. Since the conference, I’ve participated in Xandra’s Creating Fertile Ground Virtual Conference, and I don’t know that I would have joined in without having met her in person at Inspired Family.

I also attended a session on natural oils (something I know nothing about and am now intrigued to learn more), a work-life balance session, and one on mindfulness titled, “Anchored Parents: Creating Positive, Mindful and Happy Families.”

As a first-year conference, there were a few kinks that need to be ironed out. I was hoping for coffee and maybe bagels or some kind of light breakfast in the morning. Nothing was provided. The 45-minute sessions didn’t have built-in breaks in between. There was also no break for lunch. I would have loved maybe 10 minutes between sessions to run to the bathroom and get settled, and an hour for lunch. I didn’t want to miss any of the sessions, so running out to get lunch at the nearby food trucks was a bit of a chore. I ate during my session and felt rude. Plus, a lunch break might have allowed more time for the Marketplace. The room of vendors seemed to have a lot to offer, but I didn’t want to miss the sessions. I’m glad the Marketplace was open for an hour prior to the keynote, but I could have used more time.

The conference tried to be inclusive of the entire family and although it was heavily attended by women, I did see several dads or dads-to-be. The only session I wish was broken up by gender was “Wanna do it?… Not ever?! Having Sex after Baby–Will It Ever Be the Same?” For me, it was awkward to discuss such an intimate subject in a group full of strangers. It would have been fine for a presentation, but for an interactive workshop I just felt uncomfortable and left to check out a different session after the first 15 minutes.

Overall, I had a wonderful experience. The organizers were two moms with young children, and I was really impressed by the variety of offerings and all the work that clearly went into making the day a success. I feel lucky to live in a city with so many family-focused businesses. The conference was a great way for me to get a lot of information up front. Now I just have to take the seeds that were planted and follow-up with research of my own.

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Something nobody talks about  |  nextlifechapter.comThe American Pregnancy Association reports, “Women who are 35-45 yrs old have a 20-35% chance of miscarriage.” That means that for a woman my age, up to one in three pregnancies end in miscarriage. Yet, for something that affects so many women, it seems like nobody talks about it.

Have you heard about this “new” podcast “The Longest Shortest Time”?

I think I first heard about it on This American Life. Those who know me well know I love This American Life. I try to see Ira Glass (the show’s host) in person any chance I get–I even saw him read stories during an experimental dance performance last year. And, for several semesters I’ve taught a memoir class where we use stories from the This American Life podcast to guide our discussions on truth telling, dialogue, interview, answering a question etc… (It’s part of the University of the Arts Continuing Education program and if anyone is interesting in taking this course or a future writing course with me, comment here or email me and I’ll add you to my special writing class email list.)

Anyway, I love This American Life. The TAL website used to include an essay by Hillary Frank about how to pitch them with a radio story. At least one semester I printed it and shared it with my class. A few years ago I learned that Hillary Frank had moved to Philadelphia, the city I was then (and still am) calling home. I even emailed Ms. Frank to see if she would be interested in being a guest speaker during my class. I didn’t figure she would say yes, but I didn’t think it would hurt to ask. (She politely declined.)

So, when I heard about Hillary Frank’s new podcast and when I heard it was about that short time that seems to go on forever when your baby is an infant, I thought it would be right up my alley.

Listening to recent episodes in the car on our Christmas road trip, I learned that Hillary had just finished a Kickstarter campaign (oops–totally missed it) and was turning the podcast into her job. As of January 2014, the LST podcast would have a new episode every two weeks.

A couple weekends ago, I finally got around to downloading the new 2014 episodes. For some reason, I started with the February 5 podcast titled “The Longest Longest Time.” In that episode, Hillary interviews Lisa, a woman who struggled with pregnancy for over a decade. I was washing dishes (as I tend to do when I listen to podcasts) when about half-way through the podcast Lisa said, “I have to say, until I had a miscarriage I don’t think I appreciated what miscarriage meant.”

Hillary followed-up by asking what, exactly, miscarriage means to her. I stopped mid-dish and listened to their conversation, which I’ve tried to transcribe below:

“…it feels like much more of a life-affecting moment or event than I had been able to perceive,” Lisa said with pause. “Do you relate to that at all?”

“Totally. And it’s something you can’t, or we don’t, talk about publicly so it’s not like mourning a death of a person that’s outside of you. You know, that we talk about and it’s understood that people are going to be distracted from work and all of that, but to have this big momentous loss from your body, that’s not something we talk about.”

“Right,” Lisa said. “And especially when it’s early like that, you know, 9 weeks. Nobody even knew you were pregnant.”

“And that’s why we don’t tell people, right? Cause just in case.”

“Exactly. Right. And then the flip side of that is nobody knows you went through it and not talking about it makes you think–you really shouldn’t be that upset by it.”

 

I stood there, greasy dish in hand with adrenaline pumping. “Exactly,” I said out loud. “We don’t talk about it.”

So, I’m here to start a conversation–to say, I had a miscarriage. In fact, I’ve had two miscarriages in the last seven months. It’s been tough. I’ve been distracted at work. I haven’t felt like myself emotionally or physically. I’ve been grieving.

As a memoir writer, I consider myself a truth teller. I want to share my story in hope that someone reading this can relate. The next few weeks I plan to post a series of miscarriage-related posts. This may seem depressing to some, and I understand that reading about such things is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, miscarriage is so very common. Maybe you’ve experienced it yourself. Maybe you will in the future. I imagine many women you know have experienced it, whether you were aware of it or not. We don’t live in a bubble. It’s okay to talk about it. It’s okay to share our stories.

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heart_hands

I found out late last night that a dear friend of mine lost her baby. She was 7 months pregnant and expecting a boy. I can only imagine the heartbreak she and her family must be feeling.

I received the news in a message from my friend’s sister-in-law who asked me to pass the word on to the other women in our knitting group. Apparently, my friend hadn’t felt the baby move in a few hours so she went to the hospital. They couldn’t find a heartbeat so they induced her and she delivered the next day. There were no obvious signs of trauma to the baby, the cord or the placenta and they have no explanation as to why this happened. They don’t know what happened, which I’m sure makes it even harder on everyone. My friend’s family has already had to deal with so much over the past few years, why this too?

I can’t begin to wrap my mind around such loss. It’s just so tragic. I am devastated for her. Living several hundred miles away, I don’t know what I can do that would possibly help. No parent should have to endure the loss of a child. I remember a line in Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions that said if she could have one wish, it would be for her son to outlive her. She didn’t know how she could possibly survive his death.

Somehow we do. Humans survive the unsurvivable all the time. But I don’t think the pain ever disappears.

On this Memorial Day, I am thinking of those who served and lost their lives in service. I am also thinking of all our lost loved ones and the families they’ve left behind. I’m especially thinking about my dear friend, her husband, their 20-month-old son, and the son they lost yesterday. I just want her to know that she is loved by so many.

I’ll be hugging my little girl a bit tighter today.

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