Sunday, July 17, 2011

Illuminate Post #1

The following post is a part of a self portrait assignment for "Illuminate: Lighting the Path to Photographic Healing" course I'm taking. It's offered by Beryl of Be Young Photography.
Click the link above if you are interested in learning about the course!

Sweet Livie,
It's been a long time since I've written you a letter. I have written about you on this blog so many times, but I guess writing about you is a little bit less emotional than writing directly to you... so maybe that's why I've avoided it. I can tell already that this class is going to break me out of my comfort zone in so many ways - and that's a really good thing.

I don't even remember the last time I wrote you a letter. I do remember the first time though. Your Grandma and Grandpa told Daddy and I that they each wrote a letter to Katie after she was stillborn to put in her casket at her funeral. We loved that idea, so the night before you funeral, we stayed up late handwriting you letters. I typed them up so that we would have copies to keep for ourselves... but I still haven't been able to look back at them. I don't know if I'll ever be able to, but I like knowing that they're there for someday.

I remember crying the whole time I was writing. Now that it's been almost 20 months since that day, I am able to write about you and your story without completely losing it... but I remember the days when I could barely say your name without tearing up.  But just because I don't cry as often as I did then doesn't mean I love you any less. I worry that becaue I appear to be "back to my old self" to most people, they will think that I've "gotten over you". I wish everyone could understand that it doesn't work like that. I will never be over you. I might be able to go out and have fun, and wear a smile on my face all day long... but that doesn't mean that my heart isn't still broken. I know it always will be to some extent... and I'm okay with that. I don't want to feel "normal". Or at least, not the old normal... because the way I felt before you was worse than the way I feel now. Because then, I hadn't met you yet. And I wouldn't want to change that for the world.
I still think of you every day, and I know Daddy does too. Now, instead of being sad every time you cross my mind, most of the time I am happy. Happy that you blessed our lives for the thirty-some weeks that we knew you were in my tummy, and the three days that we knew you "on the outside". But even though I am so happy that I knew you, my heart will always ache. I know that until we meet again someday, a piece of my heart will always be in heaven with you. Someday, you will have siblings who will hold their own pieces of my heart, but there will always be a part of it that is solely and uniquely yours. I am so proud to be able to say that you were our first baby, our first little girl. (Okay, maybe I lied about being able to write without crying).

Do you know how many gifts you have given me? I don't know if I can even count them all. You made me a mommy, and taught me how to love in a way that I didn't know existed. In my opinion, that is one of the biggest gifts a woman can receive. You taught me to see beauty in the little things, and to cherish every second of life and never let it pass me by. You death was the biggest tragedy of our lives, but because you died, I will never be able to take life, or time, for granted again... like I'm sure I did before you. Because of you, I met some of the most amazing women and formed friendships baby-loss mamas all over the country. They never would have come into my life without you.

I always knew that Daddy and I would love each other forever, but because of you, we have a closeness and an understanding of each others emotions that probably would have taken years to discover if we hadn't had to deal with losing you so unexpectedly. And on that same note, your Grandma and I were able to grow in our relationship because of you. Two first born daughters, who unexpectedly lost their first born daughters at the very end of their very first pregnancies. My mom and I were always close, but now we understand each other in a completely different way.

I could go on and on listing the ways you've blessed my life, sweet girl, but I think I've made my point. I hope you know how glad I am to be your mama, and that I as awful as those months after your death were for me and your Dad, I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world. I can still feel the weight of you in my arms, and if I close my eyes and breathe, I can smell your shampoo and the detergent that was used to wash your blankets and little pink sleeper.

I love you more than the moon and all of the stars in the sky. I miss you every single day.


The one self portrait that I liked enough to post: This is the pink bear that sat on Olivia's casket in the middle of a huge flower arrangement at her memorial service. The priest handed her to me just before her casket was lowered into the ground. He told me to take her home with me and hug her every time I needed to feel Olivia. It's hard to see in this picture, but her face is kind of smashed up because I slept with her for months after that, and still do sometimes.

I'm just throwin' this one in for good measure. I sat outside and hand wrote the above letter with a glass of wine the other night.


Manish said...

Thanks for a nice share you have given to us with such an large collection of information. Great work you have done by sharing them to all. simply superb. Photo Recovery

Lindy said...

Beautiful post, Betsy! Your love for Olivia really shines in your letter. I really like how you describe how Olivia has impacted your life and continues to be such an important part of you. Thanks for sharing this!

Beryl said...

Betsy, This is such a beautifully written letter to Olivia. I resonate so much with things you've said here. About not wanting to ever go back to normal, not taking time for granted. I feel all those things now. And I too had a bonding moment quite like yours with my mom. She experienced an early term loss and stayed in the delivery room with me and my husband when we went through Bella's delivery.

As for your images, I can feel the emotion coming through in the one of you holding the bear from Olivia's service. And your back is facing the light which I finding interesting. It's creating this beautiful glow on your back and it almost symbolizes to me how difficult it may be to let the light in right now. Also, thanks for including the photo of you writing your letter. I think a glass of wine, and a beautiful evening on your (porch? patio? deck?) sound like such a peaceful way to complete this writing assignment.

Thanks for sharing a piece of your heart with us.

chancingthedance said...

Ah! Blogger ate my comment. Let's try this again.

Basically, I just wanted to tell you that your words are beautiful, and I appreciate that you are sharing with us some of the many reasons why Olivia is so special to you. Also, like Beryl said, I really see myself in a lot of what you wrote. I often feel like I am able to focus on the joy our Lewy brought to our lives rather than the heartbreak. Some days it's difficult, though.

Anonymous said...

You dont know me, and I honestly have no idea how I came across your blog. But I just wanted to say I think you are so amazing and strong and wonderful for sharing your story with the world. I am 7 months pregnant and I can't even begin to imagine the pain you have gone through, but I admire your strength and your faith. Many mothers never take the opportunity to love their child as passionately as you love your Livie. She is so blessed to have such wonderful parents.

Cynthia said...

This is Cynthia from class - Letters to Nara is my wordpress...but I can't seem to post with that, so I am using my blogger address that I rarely use...
Our Nara Olivia's life stretched through 3 calendar days, but only 28 hours...your story really resonated with me. It really hit me when you talked of her smell. The first time my husband and I were able to hold Nara was to say good-bye. After she died, but before we bathed her (the first thing we did for her outside of my womb) I nestled my nose against her fuzzy little head to drink in the smell of her and remember it forever. I couldn't smell anything - no matter how I tried. I thought maybe her unique scent was connected to her spirit and it meant her spirit had left...or maybe she smelled just like me, so I couldn't smell her. That has bothered and perplexed me...I'm glad you know your Olivia's scent. I hope to hear of future siblings of Olivia's. I'm sorry that you no longer have Olivia with you and that the naivete of pregnancy is gone for you. I'm glad that you have your mother as your mentor and friend. Thank you for the beautiful writing and the candid, touching photo. Thank you for sharing in such a real way.

Theresa Muenzel said...

Blogger ate my comment also :(

Thanks for sharing such a wonderful letter to Olivia with us. I like how you wouldn't change what you have been through. It helps to know they have a lasting affect on us even long after they are gone.

JusikaRenae said...

I have been reading your blog now for a while and I wanted to say you have come so far. The letter you wrote is absolutely beautiful. You are completely right that the lasting effects of losing a child and or pregnancy can have on a woman. I am so glad that you have been so open and candid about your experience.

Post a Comment