Monday, December 7, 2020

Ten Years (and one day)

One thing about writing about grief is that it is really hard because it always seems to come out as More Than or Less Than. Even when it's exactly what I'm feeling in the moment that I write it down, in the next moment (or the next day) it feels like Too Much or Not Enough to really describe what I'm feeling. 

This morning, I feel buoyed up by the love we felt yesterday. I feel clear-eyed and full-hearted. But the weekend was really hard. The dread leading up to the day. The memories of December 5, 2010, when everything was right in my world. I am always so aware of how lucky I am, of how many gifts Eliza has brought to us, but also I wish I could exist in this world without the heaviness of grief sometimes. Would it have been so hard for me to be one of those people who gets to have all their children live? Was that really too much to hope for?

At any rate, the day after her birthday feels like a bit of a relief--like we survived another year. I can let out the breath that I've been holding. 

But yesterday, I was feeling something else and I wrote about it, so I wanted to share it, too. Because grief is full of ups and downs and yesterday morning was really sad and hard. I had just a few minutes before Gee woke up, so I typed what I was thinking. Today, that second sentence doesn't feel exactly true. Or maybe it is still true, but not in the same way. Other things that once were lost--baby snuggles and diaper changes and staggering first steps and birthday parties and soft pajamas and pretty dresses on miniature hangers--I've gotten lucky enough to get those. My pain has softened because I've been able to have those things, and because time does help, honestly. But the central loss--Eliza herself, and the girl she would have been. That's the part that will always break my heart.

* * *

Thoughts on the Death of My Baby, Ten Years Later

It still hurts. It hurts every much as bad.
Ten years doesn’t blunt the pain so much as multiply it.
Take everything we’re missing.
Add a zero.
Ten years without her.
I text my friends, only the ones who also know what it is to take what you love most, wrap it in a blanket, and bury it.
I don’t know how we’ve survived, I say.
I don’t know either, they reply.

It’s different this time because ten years later I’m walking and eating and drinking.
But I’m still clutching that empty ache to my chest.

I don’t want to exercise or stretch or take advil or do any of the things that would make me feel better. I’m holding my breath. I’m tensing my muscles.

I’m bracing myself for the fall.

That moment when someone’s voice says, “I’m sorry there’s no heartbeat”
And the earth falls away from me.

Don’t think me ungrateful.
To be able to wrap my arms around my good fortune. To smell their heads and soothe their pains.
I am rich in daughters. Luckier than most.
None of them is ten years old.
None of them is my first baby.
None of them was born on a cold December day, when I became a mother
with an extra adjective:


Ten years of motherhood shaped by grief.
There should be a better lesson here.
Something about resilience and fortitude. Or, if we’re feeling spiritual, faith and hope.
It’s a mess, not a lesson.
It's a dream in ruins.
My grief muscles are weak, despite ten years of strength training.

It’s not fair that she’s not here. And I hate unfairness. The arbitrary chance that takes one life and saves another. I know too many babies worth saving, all of them dust. I know their mothers—the ones with pain in their eyes.

Ten years is too long to be away from my baby girl.

* * *

Thank you for reading. Thank you for bearing witness to my pain and abiding here with me, and sharing your stories with me and celebrating with me, too. Thank you for remembering Eliza with us. Some of you have been here for a decade, or close to that. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


  1. "It's a dream in ruins." I feel that line so deeply and it is so true. It is 10 years this past June from our own loss of our third child. Our second boy. A 10th birthday in a year of so many missed milestone events. It just amplified the loss further and I feel your pain. We were blessed with a miracle rainbow four years later, and while he has helped soothe the hurt and brought back so much joy, it still circles back to the ache and missing that is always there and often amplified by a gap in ages, unplanned and shocking to those not in the know. I will never understand why we received membership in this club no one wants to be a part of, but I am grateful for the connection with other loss moms and your words years ago that brought me to this blog and let us know we are not alone. Wishing you peace and comfort on this milestone birthday for your sweet girl and the upcoming holidays.

  2. These are gorgeous, breathtaking words. So full of love. Thank you, once more, for sharing. I’ve been here for (almost) 10 years, and I’ve always admired your poise, your perspective, and of course your way with words. Though my losses are of a different nature, you’ve helped me more than you can ever know.
    Missing Eliza with you and sending you love.

  3. Your opening about More Than and Less Than is so true. So perfectly put. Nail on the head right there.

    But I loved that you shared both. Or all. The build up, the thick of it all, and the day after. I still love reading about your grief and how you move through/with lets me connect with mine and have company in that space that is usually a ship sailed solo along side everyone else’s normal life. So thank you xo

    I still read along with a lot you post about - and it sounds super pretentious to say “when I have the time to”, but that’s kind of life these days. Ugh. But I’ve always got time for the babes we’ve lost and their sacred birthdays. I’ve got more than time...I’ve got a heart full of yearning and missing and relentless love.

    10 years of love for your girl (even though I’ve been here for about know what I mean).

    Love you Eliza 💞. Happy Birthday baby Duck xo
    (It’s Veronica posting xo)

  4. Oh my god, Brooke, that poem is breathtaking. Just, wow. Sending much love to you all and Eliza ❤️

    1. You know what's funny is that I would have never called that a poem. I would have said it's a choppy essay with a lot of line breaks. :) Poetry makes me very nervous. But thank you.

    2. You know, I would have never called it a poem. I would have said it's a choppy essay. With a lot of short (one-sentence) paragraphs. Poetry makes me nervous. But thank you.

  5. I have been here for a long time Brooke. I still feel a tear slip down my face as you talk about Eliza. My oldest girl was 10 in June, and your posts remind me that when I am frustrated sometimes I am also so very thankful. My heart aches reading your words. And I think of who Eliza could have been. Missing her and loving her with you.


  6. Sending peace to MamaDuck 🐣

  7. I absolutely thought poem, heartbreakingly, breathtakingly, tears in my eyes, beautiful.

    So much love to you, to Eliza, to your beautiful family and your babylost friends.

  8. Thank you, because your grief helped me understand mine 4 years ago. Thank you for continuing to share.

  9. Thank you for sharing Eliza with us. 💜

  10. Ten years is a biggie. (I can't believe I've been reading you this long!) Lots of love & virtual (((hugs))) sent your way!

  11. Another beautiful post Brroke. Tears fall freely here, even as I read in remote Australia, of the loss of a baby I didn’t carry. For most of your blogging since the loss of your beautiful Eliza I have read along, popping in to check helplessly on you, seldom commenting but always caring. Thank you for sharing your journey, you have impacted me greatly.