A Gift of Loss
We said our first hello and final goodbye to our baby girl a few weeks ago. Her name is Artemis. We feel blessed we got to hold her, take her home and lay her to rest ourselves. I have no words to express my gratitude to those who have created a lattice of love and support for us these past few days. I don’t know how we would have made it through this without you.
Below is a little something I wrote to her. It is very personal, but I know I'm not the only one who has gone through this, so if it helps someone, then that helps me too.
My dear, sweet baby girl,
You gave me the gift of your loss, although I hoped for the gift of your presence. I could never have known the fullness of my spirit without the vacuum of your absence. That void is stretching and shaping my heart even now. It is a void that is empty and everything.
You gave me a sisterhood of grief. Those who also carry secret names in their hearts have come to find me and support me. Women I’ve known for years and never knew their square in this quilt of sorrow that extends to the beginning of motherhood. But they came to wrap me in it and be comforted by its dark warmth.
You gave me one last birth. Water breaking, the tender pain of opening. You waited for the perfect moment I was alone so it could be me to deliver you in quietness. I like to think you wanted some time with just me. “Mommy time” the others call it.
You gave me your name, whispered it in my ear before you were even conceived. Like a mantra, more melody than word. You told me again just a few weeks ago. I said, “Okay, but to invoke Artemis means you will never marry.” You said it would not matter.
You gave me the place you would rest. While holding you I could see the tree, the stream, the birds, the deer you protect, protecting you. Not fire, not water, make it the gentle earth.
You gave me your peace. As the waves of grief ride every breath and the desperate search fills every cell, only the heart knows where you are. And that is enough for now.
You gave me your strength. Your silver bow laid in my hands. Nothing will ever be hard again.
You gave me the gift of your leaving. And with it, taught me that nothing is ever lost.
Yours, forever and always,
I have created The Artemis Garden, a virtual garden to help others who have gone through neonatal loss and a fundraiser for the organization HAND (Helping After Neonatal Death).