Friday, September 27, 2013

Walk to Remember

Our Walk to Remember is coming up in October.  The first year after Eliza died, I was still too crushed with grief to feel up to attending.  Last year, we showed up with her little sister in tow.

more pics here
 This year, we plan to attend again.

I've written about this before, but the first person I e-mailed after Eliza died was a woman named Kate, whose e-mail address was listed on the Glow in the Woods website.  It turned out that she hadn't contributed to the website in sometime, but she wrote me back quickly, kind and knowing and comforting words that were the first balm of shared experience on the great and gaping wound in my heart.

We didn't carry on a lengthy correspondence after that--just a few e-mails here and there--but since that first compassionate reply she sent, I've basically hero-worshiped her.

She speaks each year at the Walk to Remember in her area.  You can read her beautiful, moving, and painfully true words from this year's walk here.  Of course the whole thing is wonderful, but this was part when I felt like she was speaking to me, to the me who stills cries in my office on a Friday afternoon, to the me who feels like maybe it's been too long and nobody except for other BLMs wants to hear about how much Halloween hurts my heart, to the me who wants to know more than almost anything in this word if Eliza would have blue eyes like me, or hazel ones like her dad and sister, to the me who is sometimes still overcome by the sense of how much I failed her:

Don’t ever apologize for being sad. A child in a wartorn country does not need to say she is sorry for stepping on a landmine. Don’t apologize for making other people uncomfortable with the fact that you’ve just gotten gaping chunks of your body blown off. I’m sorry. I’m a mess. I’m so sorry. You don’t need to be.
Don’t apologize for speaking to the dead. Don’t apologize for hearing them speak back. This is ancient magic, the truest truth.

Don’t apologize for no longer fitting into the ideal—not even inwardly, to yourself. Don’t apologize to your baby, taking on what feels like the failure of your body. If you do, and if you listen, you will sense it: baby will say Mama, that is going too far. Be gentle, mama.

I still reread her speech from last year.  I don't exaggerate when I say this speech changed my life by giving me another insight into love and loss. I love every word of it, especially this:

Loss is the human baseline. What happened to you -- to us -- was a horrible trauma. Such an injustice. Extraordinary. But the effect of it brings us home to the most fundamental human state: suffering.
We mark it with these balloons, hanging onto it thanks to a ribbon that tickles your palm. You might feel a strange re-enactment of loss, a little twinge when you let go, and then awe and wonder as it goes up, and up.
We don't just honour our babies when we let go. We honour what we lived through as the people who loved them. We mark our loss of faith, of our innocence, our obliviousness, our grace. We mourn those things as we mourn our children.
But there are things we've found, through suffering, and we note them too, as we let go. We've discovered truths, and strengths, whether it feels that way right now or not. Through our babies, as with all babies, we were given glimpses of otherworldly things we never would have noticed before.
One day you’re able to pause, and nod, and say without collapsing: I remember you, baby. And you sense a nod back from some other place. Not necessarily from your baby but from the sky, the wind, the weather. They approve of the way you tip your hat and continue on with ordinary things like a desperate craving or an afternoon with a book or a good sweat.
After a good cry (which I just had while writing this post), I try to take a deep breath.  And then when I let it out, I send out love into the universe.

I know it totally sounds like a weird hippie-dippie meditation sort of thing, but regardless, it works.  Physics tells us that energy never disappears, that is must be recycled and reformed.  Faith tells us that our loved ones are with us even after they're gone.  And so I will myself to believe that she can feel my love, and I let it go.

Love for Eliza, love for the other babies lost, especially right now the September babies like Otis and Olivia, and love for that little Liam, whose mom promised me that broken wasn't the same as ruined forever.

She was right.  I can say it now, without collapsing:  I remember you, baby.  And this year, again, I will walk and remember.


  1. You made me cry. What an amazing post. Remembering all of our babies, and my little Love Willow, who has been on my mind a lot these days.

    Hugs to you Brooke.


  2. This made me cry too, but loved it.

  3. I'm wiping away my tears. So beautiful and inspires me to find a walk in my area.

  4. I know I don't come often. You know I love Kate's posts. She is amazing. I posted her latest on FB, IG. Anywhere someone could read it. I too love the parts about being kind to myself...that's something I wonder if I'll ever be able to find peace with. Regardless if I'm able to achieve all the things she speaks of (forgiveness of others is a total longshot for now) I love hearing her words and feeling like she's telling me to breathe and giving me a hug. I'm glad she resonates with you too. Our walk is at the end of October. We will be there remembering Camille for the 3rd time. Sigh.

  5. I relate so much to the "being too torn to even handle a walk" feeling. This will be the first walk my family will be doing in honor of Elias (ours is on Oct. 6th). I will be thinking of your girl and all the precious babies of mamas I've "met" through the interwebz. Grateful we have October for remembrance and awareness (another use for FB, by the way!). Just saying hello - I don't comment often these days!

  6. Kate rocks. And so do you. (((hugs)))

  7. for what it's worth- I'm a random stranger who isn't a BLM who loves your blog and loves to hear about Eliza. although I can't possibly (and hope to never) understand your loss- she matters.

  8. There were three blogs that I devoured in the earlier days of blogging - and two of them were written by friends. One was Sweet Juniper, the other Sweet|Salty. I've always loved her writing and her photographs, and I remember her words and her son each fall.

    Yesterday my best friend from high school (and my sister and lots of other friends) walked to raise money for Cincinnati's Childrens Hospital. They were on a team walking for Melissa's son Mason, her twin that did not come home. I always think of Kate when I see Max and think of his brother.

  9. And in my comment above, I meant that those two writers were friends of each other, not my own friends.

  10. I just have to pipe up and agree, Kate is amazing. She not only writes these amazing speeches for the Walk to Remember but she also flies across the country to deliver them in person. I'm just lucky enough to get to hear them in person as it's our local walk that she comes to. 4 years ago at our first walk, I worked up the courage to approach her and thank her for starting GITW and ended up blubbering all over her. She was so kind and understanding.

  11. Lovely. I know what you mean about it being too hard at first. We walked in the Preeclampsia Walk this year, and I was glad to do it, glad to raise money. But it broke my heart in ways too - so many families there with babies who lived, when mine did not survive.

    Thank you for sharing.