Podcast suggestions from my binge-listening session of yesterday of the beautiful Strangers, hosted by Lea Thau.

Life, Interrupted — a story that reminded me how random the course of our lives can be (and unfortunately, how the awful randomness is sometimes compounded by socioeconomic factors and lack of an adequate social safety net).

The Long Shadow — the intertwined stories of young men who were shot at the Empire State Building. The life and self of one of them changed forever, the life of another stolen from him, and what his mom makes of it.

If you keep on thinking ‘Be careful, be careful. Don’t do this, don’t do that’, you fence yourself in and then you don’t live a life.

maybe you won’t have time later

I don’t know why i do this to myself. Why i click on links that target overwhelmed parents of young children. Perhaps it’s just because of how common they are. I come across that type of article several times a day. I look away most of the time, but then, once in a while, i click and read the words of those parents who have normal parenting problems and who deal with daily annoyances and small-scale dilemmas by writing tongue-in-cheek pieces on parenting websites.

I clicked yesterday even though the title of the article already was making me cringe, You Have Plenty of Time to Love Them Later.  The advice it offered, and that I would have perhaps appreciated had things been different, seemed so so wrong : Lire la suite

a year ago

A year ago today, according to some new weird facebook feature, i posted three photos of Paul. The only photos i shared while he was alive. A year ago today, we brought Paul back home after a short stay at the hospital. A year ago today, i felt relieved to get out of the hospital and be able to finally enjoy my son’s presence without the constant interruption of a well-intentioned nurse. Even though i was thankful to be taking home a healthy baby, i could not understand how incredibly lucky i was to have had an uneventful pregnancy leading to a strong and relaxed 8-pound baby.

A year ago today, half a continent away, another baby was born. He was much smaller. He needed a longer stay at the hospital. But he, too, was expected to become strong enough for his loving family to take him home with them, and to start enjoying his presence without the oversight of medical personnel. That is not how things went. He never made it home.

The last eleven months have been filled with pain and awful hours of grief and doubt and guilt. Through these complex and difficult times, however, i have been lucky to « meet » other mothers who could understand, sometimes better than the people closest to me, what i was dealing with. They too felt distrust and anger and the bottomless sadness of losing their babies. Even though i wish we had never had any reason to bond over our shared experiences of grief, i am so thankful for their presence in my life.

Today, the son of one of these women i have become friends with despite having never met should be one year old.
Tonight a candle burns in my home for Zachary and his family.

radio-induced thoughts

We’ve been travelling. I’ve been listening to a lot of radio and podcasts. Often, the stories i hear bring me to think about different aspects of grief. Sometimes, they allow me to explore new facets of grief, to better understand the processes i am going through. So here are a few recent radio-induced thoughts.

Radiolab, a show i enjoy despite some of its problematic aspects (i.e. it’s is very white/western- and male-centered) tackled a complicated topic this week. Its team attempted to “put a price on the priceless”, including human life. In a conversation about what we collectively should spend on keeping people alive with the help of high-end drugs, they ask what is a month of human life is worth. How much is it ok to spend to extend someone’s life for a year? They discuss these questions with different specialists but also ask people on the street “what is a year of life worth?” Most people took a lot of time to answer and asked many questions to better understand the context of this question, and the quality of life they would benefit from. 5 000$, 10 000$, 10M$… 7$. As the reporter said, the answers were « all over the place ».

I stuck me as odd that the reporter asked people to put a value on a year of their own life, and even more so that some people asked whether they would have to reimburse what they would need to borrow. I would have been curious to hear how much people would estimate a year of their loved ones’ life is worth. What answer would you get if you asked parents to answer what their child life is worth? What if you asked parents who have lost a child?

Or would it be an entirely pointless and painful question?

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capture your grief 5/6

day 5 – journal


While i was expecting Paul, i looked for a book to collect our memories of him. I imagined we would create so many of them, for so long, as we learned to live with a baby, as we discovered him/her, as we went on adventures together… I didn’t like most of the baby album available, often intensely gendered and to intricate in their design for my taste.

Despite my initial good intentions, I had not kept a regular journal during my pregnancy – perhaps because I didn’t enjoy myself that much and wouldn’t have wanted my child to read about my petty complaints. But I was determined to chronicle my baby’s first year, or, as the journal I finally found suggested, his First 1000  days.

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capture your grief 3/4

day 3 — before

beforei am unsure of when « before » is
i was changed by the arrival of Paul in our lives
already, i wasn’t exactly the same as i used to be

the before in this image
before Paul was gone
before he was no longer with us
it shows
the person i longed to be
the person i hoped to be

a mother holding my child’s hand
through the world
guiding him
letting myself be guided

Paul was two weeks old
sleeping against me
protected from the cold by the warmth of my body
womb-like, through the forest

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birth and memories

I have always enjoyed writing. Throughout my school years, my birthday very often fell on the same day as the final writing exam. I guess not everyone would have been pleased with this pattern but I didn’t mind. I enjoyed it, for the most part, and enjoyed the feeling that came with the end of the school year, the air finally warming up, the upcoming weeks of freedom. I didn’t mind writing assignments for school, and then, once I entered university, I truly enjoyed writing papers and developing my ideas and my grasp on the language – whether it be in english of french. Over the past four years, as I have been working for a neighborhood community organisation, I have appreciated learning how to shape language to reach people of different walks of life.

I had never written on a regular basis on my own terms, but in the past few months, writing has been an amazing outlet to express my conflicted feelings. Through this blog and different forums, I have allowed myself the space to reflect on my life as Paul’s mother, on his life, on what to make of these months of learning how to live without him. I have also been in contact with a few persons I have “met” through their blogs. These few epistolary relationships have been so precious. The level of connection that can form across people who share significant experiences is truly amazing and leads to beautiful conversations. Lire la suite

les bruits, les oublis

english below…

En lisant le texte d’une maman sur le silence de son bébé qui n’est plus, je me rends compte que je ne m’aperçois plus du silence. Pire, je ne me souviens plus des sons de Paul.

Pendant ses quatre semaines avec nous, il a passé beaucoup de temps à dormir et à téter. Il a pleuré aussi, certainement, mais mes souvenirs auditifs sont pour ainsi dire absents.

J’ai oublié les pleurs de Paul à la naissance parce que je naviguais entre conscience et demi-sommeil drogué.
J’ai oublié ses pleurs au creux de la nuit, peut-être par souci de me souvenir plutôt de ce silence partagé. Paul dans mes bras, s’abreuvant de moi.
J ‘ai oublié les petits bruits de Paul, quand tout allait bien. Faisait-il des bruits? J’ai beau racler le fond de ma mémoire, je n’arrive pas à déterrer un seul son. Lire la suite

P pour/P for

Leigh, du blog Headspace Perspective, m’a récemment fait connaitre le « Alphabet Photo Project ». Depuis quelques semaines, par le biais de cette exercice collectif de photos, je découvre  des éléments de sa vie et de son fils Hugo. Jusqu’à maintenant, je n’ai pas senti le besoin et le courage de m’astreindre à des exercices d’écriture proposés par d’autres blogues. Mais comment passer à côté de la lettre de cette semaine? (et j’en profite pour essayer un billet bilingue).

Leigh, at Headspace Perspective, has allowed me to discover the the « Alphabet Photo Project » by sharing her weekly photos and accompanying pieces, revealing glimpses of her life as the mother of Hugo. Though i have not joined any weekly blogging prompts, I feel like i couldn’t pass up this week of the Alphabet Photo Project, focusing on the letter P. (and, as you see, I am also trying out a bilingual post.)

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