Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Step By Step
by Cara Tyrell

Day by day… Minute by minute… Second by second.

These are the forced mantras fed to us after loss. Just take it day by day, minute by minute, second by excruciating second.

I do not miss the truth behind these words, for no other option allows us to remain, even mildly functional as the world we once knew by rote, shatters - then redefines itself. And yet, I distinctly recall the stale feeling they left behind as I attempted to formulate a semi-appropriate reply. No words fit. Each syllabic formulation died on my tongue, just short of its mark.

That was eight years ago.

Now, I hear myself say these words to devastated parents, hoping against hope that some truly comforting meaning has been embedded in them throughout the years. You are not alone. We will get through this, together – day by day, minute by minute, second by second. And we do: in the hospital, over the phone, through emails, at monthly meetings…and still, I wished for something more; an overtly affirming over-the-top action that speaks louder than short-phrased, albeit well meaning, platitudes.

That something exists. It existed all along. I had no idea.

Share Southern Vermont hosted its first annual Walk for Hope and Remembrance in early May. It was a first on so many levels, each of them more affirming than the next.

It was our first big event, our ‘grand opening’, if you will - broadcasting to communities in need: We are here! If you need us, call. If you are hurting, email. If you can help us, call. If you wish to support us – emaill. And they did.

“Thank you!” they said, “I lost my baby 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago... I wasn’t even there for myself... I came to support my granddaughter... I feel like I can finally grieve for him/her...For the first time, I called myself, ‘his mother’. Thank you for that.”

It was the first time I had ever attended any kind of organized memorial for lost babies. I see now how truly astounding that is, for I have been doing my work. I have never apologized for Emma’s memory. I have never been silent about the three kids in our family. I have been to the therapist, kept a journal, scrapbooked, put ornaments on the tree, and celebrate my daughter’s short life in countless ways throughout the years. But never once had it crossed my mind that I could share my grieving road with others, gather with them monthly to share stories and tears, or listen to my baby’s name read with one-hundred others, and then – walk, together, towards the next phase of our grief.

I am filled with gratitude that our generation is not told to hit an eternal pause button until we ‘meet again’, to just ‘let it go’ and ‘never speak of it’. We are allowed to grieve. We know our steps don’t always have to be forward, sometimes going back is the only way to progress, but we have each other and that means everything.

Eighty four sets of feet took some big steps last month. The collective energy was nearly tangible as individuals felt their own personal shift. We grieve together: day by day, minute by minute, second by second, and now – step by step.

Did you participate in a walk this spring? What is the most recent ‘step’ you have taken?


Gina said...

Today June 4th, was my due date. I have had a tough week. Finally the other day I decided that I was just going to let people know that I was not OK. It helped. I walked in the March of Dimes, have been writing and spending time with the people who have helped me the most.

A friend gave me something from a church near our house that does a Mass for parents who have lost a child and we are going to go.

Cara said...

Gina - Due dates are so very hard to navigate. I'm glad you felt ready to tell others you were not ok, that is a huge step!

I hope that all the events, first the walk - and now the mass will play a healing role for you.

Gina said...

Thanks I hope so too. It is tough, but I did manage to do much better than I thought I would today. I think it hit me earlier in the week. I had a feeling she was coming early, (end of May), but not in January. The acknowledgment from others in itself helps. I got a few hugs at work from people who realized what today was and it was tough, but it helped. It is amazing how we find out we are so much stronger than we ever imagined.

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