Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Before You Know Kindness

One thing I have always loved about my husband, Michael, is his appreciation of beautiful poetry. We began exchanging poems literally within hours of meeting each other, and in that first year there was a flurry of Rilke and Rumi and Hafiz and cummings.

We have been together for almost 7 years, and we send fewer poems now, but occasionally I find one in my inbox, or I send one to him. As I was sorting through some old emails, I found this one, "Kindness" by
Naomi Shihab Nye. Michael sent it to me over a year ago. As I read it now, it resonates with me in a way it couldn't have back then.


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

I have to say, even having known sorrow, I am still so forgetful of kindness at times! I still grasp after my own comfort and security. At times I find myself angry. And then, something startles me awake, and I have to laugh. Security? This is all so fleeting. Anger? Ah, yes, sometimes I suffer that way. Sometimes I forget that I always have the choice to soften my heart.

Thich Naht Hanh recommends a meditation when you are angry with someone you love:

I close my eyes and look deeply.
Three hundred years from now

Where will you be and where shall I be?

How wonderful, you are still alive!
I am so happy!

How could I be angry with you?

Both of us have to die someday
and while we are still alive and together
it is foolish to be angry at each other.

May kindness go with us everywhere, like a shadow or a friend.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Michael and I recently celebrated our 2-year anniversary. We spent the day at Waldo Lake. This is the third year in a row that we have gone there in October. The first time, we said our wedding vows. Then, last year, we took Sage there. Both times, we enjoyed beautiful autumn weather.

This time, the closer we got to the lake, which is in the Cascade Mountains, the more icy patches we saw on the road, and soon we were driving through a snowy winter landscape. I felt really nervous, so I just focused on breathing and tried to stay calm. Icy mountain roads will probably always remind me of the accident. Michael drove slowly and carefully and offered me lots of reassurance, but I wasn't really able to relax until we reached the lake.

Michael and I had brought some food for the little gray birds we always see there. They swooped down from the trees to perch on our hands and fill their small mouths with pine nuts.

After feeding the birds and eating a picnic lunch, we hiked through the snow to the point where we got married. I kept thinking, as I do in so many situations, 'the last time we were here, Sage was with us.'

We sat on the rocks near where we got married and where Sage's placenta is buried, and Michael brought out the box that holds Sage's ashes. We have talked about releasing his ashes here, and maybe some day we will, but we agreed that we are not ready yet.

Michael then brought out the Native American flute that his father gave to us after Sage's death, and we each played a little music for Sage and Dad. The following is a short video that Michael created of our trip.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Kyle David Miller's Legacy

This is a four minute video offered by the Kyle David Miller Foundation to share 3-year-old Kyle's story and to educate people about car seats. I work with kids and parents every day, and I did not know the information in this video. Please take a moment to watch it.

The main points to consider are:

- Keep your children in a 5-point harness as long as possible. Booster seats rely on seatbelts, which do not always work, especially in roll-overs. Also, children often pull the seatbelt off their shoulder. It takes a certain level of maturity for a child to correctly use a booster seat.
5-point harness seats are available for kids up to 80 pounds
- Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. Because 96% of accidents are front or side impacts, rear-facing seats provide a huge advantage in supporting your child's body during an accident. Children in Sweden ride rear facing until they are three to five years old or as much as 55lbs, lowering traffic death and injury rates in Sweden considerably. It is uncommon to turn a child to forward-facing before these ages.

"From 1992 through June 1997, only 9 children properly restrained rear-facing died in motor vehicle crashes in Sweden, and all of these involved catastrophic crashes with severe intrusion and few other survivors."

Please, check out the Foundation's website for more information. It is possible to offer a donation to help the foundation provide free 5-point harness car seats to needy families. The seats are often quite expensive, and as their brochure says,
"We believe that keeping our children safe
should not be a privilege."

If you would like to help spread this information,
please feel free to copy and paste
this post into your own blog.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Wave of Light

I stumbled upon this on another blog and wanted to spread the word. Imagine the collective energy of all the people in the world who have experienced the loss of a child. Imagine thousands of candles glowing in remembrance and the invisible connections that link us all.

Monday, October 13, 2008


As you can see, I have made some changes to my blog. The title, "Our Loss," seemed so appropriate in the beginning. I was consumed by the loss of Sage and Dad, and that is what I wrote about. My grief and my writing have changed since then, and I want to let this blog reflect my evolving experience.

The new title is from the Hafiz poem, "It Felt Love" (posted on the side bar). Dad and Sage both offered me the encouragement of their love, and each in his own way helped me open my heart more to life. The title also refers to the encouragement I have received from my family, friends and even people whom I have never met but who have connected with me through this blog.

Finally, I hope that in some small way, this blog can offer the encouragement of light to others who have experienced loss and are journeying (as I am) toward a deeper sense of meaning and connection.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sage's Quilt

A few months after Sage was born, Michael and I joined a parents' group called Birth to Three. We met once a week with 9 other families with babies around the same age as Sage. While we met and shared our new parent triumphs and woes, the babies snuggled, nursed, slept and played. We watched them grow and gain new skills, and we as parents gained skills as well.

Becoming a parent is like finding yourself in a foreign land. How grateful we were to have people to share our experience with, hear our stories, comfort us and laugh with us. We could talk endlessly about whether our babies were rolling over, crawling, eating solids, or sleeping "through the night" (which in babyland means more than 4 hours at a stretch).

When Sage died, our Birth to Three group stood by us, continued to care for us. They prepared all the food for Sage's memorial. And one of the mothers, Caye, began working on a memory quilt for us. When she asked us for pieces of Sage's clothing in early June, we looked through what we had, and in the end could only part with a few things . . . a jumper, some onesies, a flannel shirt, a special blankie. She asked us about Sage's nicknames and what animals, colors and themes made us think of him. We had no idea what Caye would create with all of this.

Yesterday, Caye met me and Michael in the baby room at the Relief Nursery and presented the quilt to us. This is by far the most incredible piece of fabric art I have ever seen. I was so in awe, I could barely speak. Michael and I stared at it and ran our hands over the lusciously soft material.

One side is an ocean scene with fish, dolphins, coral, and three turtles, two large and one small. On the other side are squares, one from each of the Birth to Three families, and a myriad of photos of Sage's life. There are also some photos of Dad. The quilt is large, soft and inviting. It is a tangible expression of warmth and comfort. We will treasure it always.

To see more detailed photos, please click on the link below.
Sage's Quilt Photo Album

Saturday, October 4, 2008

BabyLoss Blog Directory

Here is a resource for my babyloss / childloss friends. It is a directory of blogs by parents who have lost children. You can read other people's blogs and you can also add your own to the directory if you have one.

The categories in this directory are:

  • Miscarriage and other losses, up to 20 weeks
  • Stillbirth and other losses, 20 weeks to term
  • Medical Termination
  • Loss at Birth and Beyond
  • Multiple Losses
  • Related Topics
  • Films
  • Recommended Reading
  • Recommended Online Links
  • Recommended Online Articles