And I'm still a bereaved parent, missing my daughter Eliza and thankful everyday for the people who help me get through this life without her and get back to a place where my grief isn't the whole of my existence.
After I got out of class this morning, I opened my e-mail to messages from three different people, each one related to Eliza. That does not happen every day, but on October 15th, it happened, and I read those e-mails with tear-filled eyes and a full heart. Thank you for remembering Eliza on National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.
There are so many of us missing our babies today, and whether you know me personally, or have commented on my blog, or have e-mailed me, or have just read these words silently because unfortunately they resonate with you and your loss, please know I will be joining you and thinking of your babies and mine and the lives that might have been theirs and ours.
Part of the tradition of this day is that anyone whose life has been touched by the loss of a baby lights a candle at 7pm in their time zone, creating a 24-hour wave of light across the world (and then taking pictures of it and posting them on IG with the hastag #october15th because that's how we roll in the twenty-first century). Baby loss is an arbitrary and democratic tragedy, but it is also the most personal and intimate of agonies. For me, the wave of light symbolizes not just the flame of love for each of these babies, but the community, connections, and friendships that Eliza's life made possible. It's no consolation for her loss, but it's still a gift for which I am beyond grateful.
Here's an article from the New York Times, sent to me by my friend Keya, who--along with some other fantastic women in my graduate program--helped me grade final essays and showed up at my house to sit with me in the terrible long, dark winter days after Eliza died, and kept showing up even though I was unshowered and could barely carry on a coherent conversation. No matter how far apart we get geographically (or because of my reluctance to get back on the F-Book), those women have a special place in my heart and among the saints in heaven.
And here's an article by fellow-BLM Sarah Muthler, in which she quotes me because I am Obviously Very Famous And Important. Or, you know, because I was able and willing to respond to e-mail. Either way, the article is important. Also, I know I wrote the things I'm quoting as saying, but they still kind of take my breath away.
Somewhat weirdly related to my dreams of being Obviously Very Famous and Important: A while back, I got a phone call from a man with a British accent asking me about a scholarly article I published a couple years ago about spontaneous combustion in Charles Dickens's novel Bleak House. He works for a British television channel that's making a documentary about people who still believe in spontaneous combustion and he totally wanted to interview me for his document if I were going to be in England. Since I don't live in the UK and have no immediate travel plans, he then wanted to know if I knew any scholars over there who would want to talk about spontaneous combustion (womp-womp). (He assured me if he had a budget, he would totally fly me to London.) Even though I missed my chance at Worldwide Fame Via A Random Documentary, I was still super excited by the phone call because I was basically thisclose to becoming Obviously Very Famous and Important, so it can probably still happen. Right? It is basically my dream to be an expert on an obscure literary topic and then get to appear on television (or NPR) to talk about it. This is why people get PhD's, right? I mean, isn't that the point?
Anyway, it's just totally bizarre to me that my two areas of expertise are now babyloss-and-subsquent-pregnancy and spontaneous combustion in nineteenth-century British novels.
Let me tell you, given the choice, I'd take spontaneous combustion.
Since I didn't have a choice, I just want to say once again how grateful I am to have found a community of support.