before/after

As i woke up this morning, trying to gather the courage to post a before/after photo of me as the mother of Paul, i sleepily looked through my facebook feed. It has not been the safest place for me recently, a feeling that, i am sure, is familiar to anyone grieving or going through difficult times. Social media invite people to stage their lives and offer glimpses of when they look most attractive, when they do the most exciting things for the world to see. In my feed, the countless very-happy-times photos and unavoidable baby photos share the space with social justice links and statuses, many about the aftermath of Michael Brown’s killing in Ferguson, violence against women, reproductive justice issues, and a few weeks ago, about the Israeli invasion of Gaza.

I find myself having a hard time facing both the overly cheerful pictures and the heart-shattering current events. I feel upset witnessing the simple and lighthearted happiness so many friends and « friends » of mine seem to enjoy, but i can’t let myself measure the amplitude of the violence and injustice faced by so many people. I can’t handle really facing either. So i often find myself withdrawing from both. Scrolling through all of it as if i had to, glossing over everything, in very much the same way i find myself doing with what is happening around me « in real life ». I can’t deal with everything at once, it seems. So i end up not dealing with anything. Spending days  without being able to connect to my loss because it feels like too much work. Lire la suite

Paul and the knitting tree

At some point during the spring, as i was discovering the beautiful people and resources at Glow in the woods, i came across a call to participate to a mother’s project to honor her daughter Marlo. She was collecting squares of fabric to be included in a knitting graffiti for her daughter’s third birthday.

IMG_5062I knew right away i wanted to be a part of this creative tribute to the life of Marlo and many other lost babies. I knew because the video of the 2013 edition of the knitting tree was set to one of my favorite songs, The Be Good Tanyas’ Littlest Birds. I knew because even though i can’t knit, i feel a strong connection to knitting since i am lucky to have a expert-knitter as a grandmother.I knew because for the brief winter weeks Paul was with us, he spent a lot of time in beautiful outfits knitted with so much love by his great-grandmother and great-great-aunt, and wrapped in a blanket made by his paternal grandmother. I knew because when i was pregnant with Paul, i felt so thankful to rediscover the wool outfits that my brother and i had worn as children that were carefully preserved for our own children. I felt that somehow, all this intertwined wool was a line connecting us through time and generations… Lire la suite

10 Things About Me – Grief Aside

Edited as i woke up and realize my list was missing something important…

Un billet peut-être moins pertinent pour les personnes qui me connaissent dans la vraie vie…

Since yesterday, I have read a few responses to an invitation made on the Still Standing magazine website to share 10 Things About You – Grief Aside. I feel like I wouldn’t usually respond to that sort of assignment but i have enjoyed reading the lists from people whose blogs i have been following and so i want to share as well.

here i go…

1- Where were you born and where do you live?
I was born in Nantes, France, to a French mother and a Quebecois father. We moved when i was 3 and I have spent most of my life in Québec city.

Lire la suite

guilt

J’écris en ce texte en anglais parce qu’il présente des réflexions que j’ai eues à la lecture de textes et de blogues en anglais…

 

IMG_6816Since Paul died, I’ve searched the internet looking for online resources and spaces that did not involve angels. In the weeks following his death, I travelled to Columbia, taking refuge at a friend’s house, far away from all the spaces that reminded me of Paul. I had had a strong urge to leave home, to be away from the river banks where I had taken my last walk with Paul, away from the store we were in when his heart stopped, away from the birthing centre, the hospital. Away, away, away. Lire la suite

When Great Trees Fall — Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly.  Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed.  They existed.
We can be.  Be and be
better.  For they existed.

 

Lire la suite

deuil impossible

[…] peut-on espérer que celui ou celle qui a perdu un enfant puisse desserrer quelque peu le nœud qui lie la souffrance et la fidélité à la mémoire? Il semble tout d’abord que ne plus être accablé serait comme renier l’attachement à celui ou celle qui s’en est allé. Il faut que tout à chaque instant nous rappelle l’absence. Rien ne doit être modifié de la vie de l’enfant perdu. La vie doit s’arrêter.

François Roustang, « Deuil impossible », dans Jamais de la vie : écrits et images sur les pertes et les deuils. 2001, p.17-18.

 

my tentative translation:

[…] can we hope that someone who has lost a child may loosen the knot tying suffering and loyalty to memory? At first, it seems that not being afflicted would be like disavowing our attachment to the lost one. All moments need to be reminders of their absence. Nothing can be modified from our lost child’s life. Life must stop.

trigger warnings

Some of the websites I visit, of the pages I follow sprinkle trigger warnings on most of their content.
I’m not entirely sure how I feel about them.

The intention is good, obviously. And I suppose they don’t hurt. But what sparks strong emotions when one is going through difficult times is so unforeseeable.

A sesame seed. Suddenly reminding me of the one that had fallen in Paul’s ear. He seemed to always wake to breastfeed when we were just about to eat. And I was often too hungry to wait.

A sesame seed.
Trigger warning : invokes memories of blissful times with your baby.

Others are more obvious: babies, photos of babies, people talking about babies, conversations about the not so pleasant aspects of parenthood (I want to yell back at them)…

But what can I do? These days, everything is a potential trigger. Life needs a trigger warning.

trying to translate « au creux de la vague »

for my friends in Louisiana and elsewhere…

The pain of grief, like the pain of contractions, comes and goes.

At times, it slowly fades away, then returns all of a sudden without warning. Catching me, taking me. Gripping my stomach before I completely understand what the trigger is.

The striped sailor shirt, worn by another little boy.
The smell of Paul’s cousin’s neck.
A glimpse of the face of a future dad, carefree.
Lire la suite