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June 23, 2011

This is an old post from Thanksgiving, 2009 from a previous blog that I took down for a variety of reasons. But, it needs to be out there. So I’m reposting today, but not for any particular reason.  


Good friends of ours lost a child recently. A miscarriage.

She was 12 weeks old. She was going to look a lot like her older sister.

He would have been tall, like his father, with the same dark eyes.

She was going to take dance classes. He was going to play football.

Her parents will never hold her, or rock her to sleep.

They will never get to take photos of his first smile, her first rolling-over, his first steps.

In the blink of an eye, what was so desperately wanted, so eagerly anticipated, is now gone. Humiliatingly disposed of. There is no closure, no grave over which to weep, no memorial. There is nothing but a few weeks of inexpressable joy and anticipation, now replaced by a thousand whys and what ifs.

When I found out about their terrible loss, I had to sit down and hug the one small boy who was with me at the time. All I could think, as tears rolled down my face, was…what if I had lost you, too? What if I had never had the chance to know you, see those dimples, rock you in the middle of the night? What if I had never heard you say, in your sweet, unprompted way “i luh loo!”

Thanksgiving is (to me) more than a holiday of thankfulness. It’s a holiday of remembering. It is easy for many to think on what is good, and noble, and pure at this time of year, but for others – like my friends who are still in pain – thoughts can be more bitter than sweet for a time.

My mother would have been 61 this week, on Thanksgiving day. She’s on my mind, as usual, as we prepare for the holiday. I wrote the excerpt below four years ago when she died suddenly of a heart attack, but after years of a prolonged, degenerative illness – what was raw and bleeding then, has, somewhat, healed over, but it doesn’t take much for the wound to reopen. I suppose it will always be that way.

I don’t think I would want it any different.


funny thing, grief.

completely unpredictable.

totally untamable.

entirely exhausting.

yet, mandatory.

mom has been gone two weeks, tomorrow.
it seems like months. time has moved very slowly.

i’ve spent the last ten years trying NOT to think about how great she was; how lovely, accomplished, gracious and loving. how she was robbed by a disease that was nothing but evil. only hell could invent an illness so cruel.

now that she’s gone, though, i WANT to remember.

i want to remember everything about her, but with that comes immeasurable emotions. happy, sad, angry, bereft. and the grief that comes with those memories…it bubbles up within, gurgling to the surface when least expected. thursday night i spent two hours howling because the book i was reading mentioned the 1940’s actress Sonja Henie. mom loved Sonja Henie.

there are days when my body feels like lead. i cannot move. i cannot think. i cannot speak. and there are other days when i actually forget for an hour or two, preoccupied with work or other duties, until it all comes rushing back. but as each day passes, the times when i do remember are less shocking, less acute. i still weep unexpectedly, but with less force, less pain.

the biggest change is that suddenly everything reminds me of her. everything. i think of her constantly. i watched a dear friend prepare for her wedding last weekend – as her hair was being pinned up, she held the handful of hairpins in her palm, just as i remember doing when i was a tiny girl. i loved those french twists mom used to do with my thick hair.

i walked the streets of Carmel that weekend also, and stopped by the bakeries mom loved for their soft pretzels and coffee. i went out into my garden after dinner one night, and as i relocated tiny roots from one corner to another, i thought of the hours she made me spend, pulling weeds (against my will), planting six-packs and dosing out fertilizer. and how she could make anything grow (amazing what happens when one remembers to water regularly).

goodbye, mom. i love you more than there are words.
i know you know that now, too.

This photo was taken just four days after mom died. I don’t look like I’m about to split right open from the inside out, do I? Let me tell you: that carefully composed facade was fragile. Even the slightest look of pity could’ve opened a crack that I might not have been able to restrain, and all the agony and loss would just spill out all over the ground and your shoes.

It was a long time before expressions of sympathy didn’t feel like acid – I know that’s not fair. Those expressing them meant nothing but the utmost in kindness and compassion. That’s just the way it is.

That’s just the way it is.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 7, 2010 10:15 pm

    >My dear, dear friend… I remember seeing you that day – you looked beautiful, you remain beautiful in all our wedding photos. I definitely remember, as I sat holding my bobby pins, that I desperately wanted to reach over an hug you and tell you that all the sorrow and pain will go away (and have that one statement MAKE it so) but I also knew that you did NOT want anyone to do that because it would open the floodgates. You bravely held it together during my wedding, you didn't have to but you wanted to, and insisted it was the best medicine. I truly hope it was – that one act was quite simply the most amazing gift anyone has ever given me. I know that by knowing you – your kindness, compassion, fierce loyalty and friendship, I know your gracious and glorious mother too.

  2. January 8, 2010 10:37 am

    >Thank you for writing the above…..everyone needs a reminder like that once in a while….just to know how blessed we truly are. Thank you-Thank you-Thank you.

  3. February 6, 2010 8:31 am

    >Adelle I just now saw this. Again, your gift for words is stunning. These are words I'll save to show someone who has lost someone they love, not to fix anything or excuse me from anything but just so they know they aren't alone. You've given us a great gift in not hiding your grief. I wish I had been there. Not that I could have done anything helpful, but mostly justbecause I often wish I was wherever you are. Cari

  4. July 19, 2010 3:37 pm

    >Beautiful, Adelle. I think you have a lot more writing to do about your mom (I've read other stuff you've written about her, of course, but still). Also, in the first part, did you mean she lost the pregnancy at 12 weeks? I read it as the baby had been born and it died at 12 weeks, but obviously they would've known the gender. Miscarriage is a terrible, terrible thing.

  5. June 28, 2011 9:37 pm

    Adelle – thank you SO MUCH for re-posting these beautiful words. Each of my daughters and my daughter-in-law experienced a miscarriage – my middle daughter at 12 weeks, just like your friend. And there is such a sense of loss – loss of dreams, loss of what might have been, loss of someone you already love, even though you’ve never met. Lovely expression of exactly that delicate and difficult truth.

    And your words about your mom? This is so powerful, so true – especially after a long, difficult dying. And yes those awful diseases/processes do seem to come straight from the pit of hell. My eldest daughter’s husband died 3 years ago after six years of a slow down-hill slide,(the result of excessive chemo and radiation when he was 17 and again when he was 19-20) the last 3 of which were hellish in so many ways I cannot even count them. She was a widow at 40 with 3 boys to raise. But in 18 days, she will re-marry a new love-of-her-love – a gift of such power after so much loss.

    I pray for you some small sense of redemption in your journey of grief following your mom’s illness and death. It is amazing how the death itself almost immediately reconnects us with the person we once knew, before we lost them piece by piece. Tears will still come, of course – as they should, even many years later, not just four (or more truthfully, I suppose, fourteen). But I pray that over time and distance, those memories of who she truly was will come flooding in on a regular basis. God is about redemption and transformation – may you experience that as you walk this road. Thank you again for this beautiful writing.


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