To Bend and Not Break

In the two and a half months since my loss, I’ve combed my mind and heart for ways to heal. My only child slipped away from me following a missed miscarriage, discovered at 17 weeks. I dissolved into sadness, molded into base elements; eat, sleep, cry, don’t eat. Cry. Don’t sleep. Cry.

After weeks of red eyes and red nose, I lifted myself back up into the world, still feeling a horrifying emptiness in my heart, but determined to go on.
I trudged through my days, and in my quiet reflective moments, I sought out ways to feel connected to my unborn child, taken away from me, ways to feel connected to myself, to my loss, to the powers that may be. I looked for ways to feel validated and to achieve some sort of closure. I’ve always had a bit of a confused sense of spirituality, steered towards what feels right in moments of need and desperation, clinging to rituals that strike a chord with my own heart. In the time since my loss, in a search for calm, I indulged in countless ways to heal, searching for that moment of solace, that activity that might allow me to feel less broken.

I chatted online incessantly with other mothers who lost babies (I still do).

I plucked rose petals from our bushes outside, scattered them in the wind and said her name, Lily.

I counted beads on my Mala bracelet, saying prayers for healing.

I pressed petals from flowers I received in condolence into the pages of an encyclopedia.

I drew and sketched for days on end, pouring my soul through ink, trying to find answers under my pen.

I lit candles and watched the flickering light reflect on my statue of Kwan Yin, goddess of compassion and mercy, and incidentally, ‘bringer of children’, said to guide the souls of newborns.

I wrote and wrote, retelling my story to myself, slaving over the ugly details in an effort to desensitize my heart to the wounds inflicted.

I walked, out in the fields, in the wind and sun, sending prayers to the heavens.

I did yoga in the grass, breathing deeply, seeking connection to myself.

I wore (and still wear) a necklace with a firefly, recalling seeing the glittering bugs outside my window the night we lost her.

I canoed on calm waters, paddle slowly trailing through mountain lakes, breathing deeply of cold glacial air, searching for a sense of peace out in the wild.

I closed my eyes and sent out thoughts of love and hope, listening for some kind of reply, perhaps even making up my own.

I prayed, tearfully on my knees

I prayed quietly in my bed

I spoke out loud to the sky

I spoke out loud to friends

I hung bells in my window, in honor of her, hoping the tinkling sounds on the breeze could bring her back to me from time to time.

I ran.

I drank wine and indulged myself with luxurious frivolity.

I said her name to myself, in quiet moments alone.

I said, out loud, through tear glazed eyes, to the breeze and the sun, Goodbye.

Today, I sat outside in the green grass, the sun casting out heat upon me. I curled up with a cat and a book, immersing myself in words, as I’ve always done, good days or bad. I listened as the wind picked up, swirling throughout the sky, fingers combing through the trees. I watched the branches wave and sway, yielding to the pressure of the air. The trees curved and leaned low, wind pushing against them.

And I felt peace. Even just a little bit. Even just for a moment. Without performing some ritual, without clamoring for substance, without looking for it, I felt peace.

I felt at ease. I felt safe. I felt strong. I watched the trees dancing in the wind, and I thought, I have pushed and pushed back upon grief, this force so much stronger than I. I have scratched at the earth, searching for answers. I have writhed and convulsed at the strength of grief’s power. I have let it twist me and shape me, it has bent me down low, my soul curved enough to kiss the ground. But I haven’t been broken.

I have learned to live under its strength, to coexist. I have grown flexible, adapting to survive. I stretch my arms out, my heart out to the open, to the howling winds, as the trees dance and weave, and I know now that I can bend without breaking.

— read more from CP85 on Hang Your Hopes From Trees

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