Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Did I need a break from writing? I have meant to write multiple times, but either the words got stuck or I got distracted... or I deliberately distracted myself because that's what I do, lately, to give my mind a break. Five months ago the internet was the only activity that could take my mind off how nauseated with pregnancy sickness I was; now I'm using Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 to take breaks from being aware of bereaved motherhood. I don't know if it's silly or heartbreaking or unhealthy... or all three. I haven't played computer games in years; it's like a regression back to childhood or something. An ironic way of mourning the childhood of my girls, maybe? (Except in the many, many memories- that-never-happened with the girls, none involve computer games. Storybooks, yes. Tea parties, yes. Dollhouses, yes. Not computer games) Or perhaps I'm drawn to the roller coasters in the game because it's such an apt metaphor for grief. I keep finding out, over and over, that just as I think I'm finding a rhythm to life in grief, I will be thrown into a barrel-roll and come out dizzy and bewildered and not knowing which way is up.

I went back to Colorado for ten days at the end of August– I went not knowing what to expect and trying not to have any expectations, since grief never is quite what you expect. Multiple friends asked me what it was like to be back: the undercurrent of meaning being, what is it like to be back in the place where your daughters are buried? I didn't know quite what to say. Yes, Livia and Lucy are buried in Colorado Springs, but they didn't die there. (We don't know where we were when they died– something I'm glad of.) They were born there, and their daddy and I got to see them and hold them and cry over them. (But those were beautiful things– privileges which haven't always been given to mothers of stillborn babies, privileges I don't take for granted.) Colorado Springs is the home of my heart– where I grew up, where I met Nate, where we were married. There are thousands and thousands of happy memories and the love for my hometown isn't lessened by experiencing pain there– in fact it is increased. I was listening to Persuasion when I went to Colorado and I think Anne's feelings about Lyme are the same as mine about Colorado Springs: "The last hours were certainly very painful...but when pain is over, the remembrance of it often becomes a pleasure. One does not love a place the less for having suffered in it, unless it has been all suffering, and nothing but suffering, which was by no means the case..."

Nate had a four-day-weekend even though he was on a TDY so he got to fly down from Vegas and be with me at my parents' house. That Saturday we went to get a headstone in the making for the girls. We had been too exhausted and overwhelmed to do it right after the girls were buried, and I had thought, initially, that perhaps we could order something online. But when I did some research I found out that there's no such thing as an online template for a single headstone for twins, and that it's better to find someone in the same town as the gravesite since local makers usually know all the regulations and permits. (The things I never thought I would have to learn at age twenty-five.) So we went to the one headstone maker's place that was open that Saturday. The husband and wife who own the business were not what I expected– not like the funeral director who had been a young woman who was nice but in a professional, "This is my job and I will do it well," kind of way. The wife was wrinkled and had a quiet reedy voice and she explained the different types of granite and stones very simply and unobtrusively. She also was very helpful in calling the cemetery to find out how big the girls' grave is since we hadn't remembered to bring any paperwork with us. The husband, who makes all the headstones, was kind of other-worldly– I've never met anyone quite like him. He seemed like he belonged in a fairy-tale: he was very short, much shorter than me, with a white shock of hair, and a gentle voice and a way of speaking very unlike the common modern parlance. I suppose being a headstone maker and spending so much time in cemeteries, surrounded by death, might change a person somewhat– but he wasn't gloomy. He was restful. I feel glad to know his hands will be crafting my girls' stone.

I don't know when the headstone will be done– since the husband makes all the stones I'm sure there's quite a line in front of us, but I'm glad we've at least got something commissioned. Besides their names and birthdate the girls' stone is going to have the chorus from Mumford and Sons "After the Storm." I have known that song for years now, but when I listened to it after we came home after the girls were born, I started bawling and later I realized that was what I wanted for their headstone, and when Nate listened to it he agreed. To me it's a picture of the promise of Revelation 21.

There will come a time, you'll see
with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart
but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see
what you find there,
with grace in your heart,
and flowers in your hair.

In searching for a picture to put on this post I found a beautiful photo on a professional photographer's website. I just emailed her to ask her if I could use it for a future post if I link back to her website– here's hoping! It's a picture of two little girls in a field of flowers– very close to what I imagine Livia and Lucy to look like, wandering through fields of wildflowers in Heaven, hand-in-hand. I don't generally picture them as babies in Heaven–I'm not sure why. When I remember the few hours I had with them I remember what they looked like, of course, but when I think of them in Heaven I picture two small curly-headed girls. I finished reading The Chronicles of Narnia to Nate very soon after they were born, and I like to think that maybe C.S. Lewis himself will read the books to the girls, since I can't.

It hurts that I have to ask photographers if I can use their photos of little girls. I am so thankful that I do have the photos of after the girls were born– I'm not ungrateful for those. But I wish I got to post growing-up photos along the way like my friends get to with their babies.