November 16, 2011

I sometimes think, once August and its aftermath are well over, that I am a fully functional, normal human being again. My grief is calm and even mellow. I remember Teddy and remember missing Teddy, and I miss him again, but without ferocity.

I’m not used to it, the absence of the ferocity. Maybe this is why it’s return takes me by surprise lately.

Last night, scanning through faceb.ook (You know, roughly, where this is going already, yes?), I stumbled on a post by an innocent I grew up with (I used to teach her brother at Sunday School, which adds an element of irony to all of this) about how grateful she is for God’s mercy that her son survived her pre-eclampsia and how God must have big plans for his life. And all of a sudden I want to reach through my computer screen, grab her by the throat, and shake her until she can’t say or type anything like this ever again. There’s so much anger here, and it’s so big, and violent, and inappropriate that I don’t know what to do with it. Because, here’s the thing: I’m not kidding or exaggerating when I say that I wanted to throttle her. For several moments that was the only thing in the world I wanted to do, and I indulged my violent imagination with rather detailed ideas of what it would feel like to wrap my hands around her neck. I was grateful, later, that this wasn’t an actual possibility, but the wishful throttling strikes me as an overreaction. I mean, people say these kinds of things all the time. Feeling so horribly angry over this one little thing feels like a regression.

I will, however, pat myself on the back for refraining from doing any of the following:

  • Commenting, “Oh, it’s so nice when they live, isn’t it?”
  • Explaining to her, in precise and profane detail, precisely how much I value God’s “mercy” and “miracles”
  • Driving back to my home town, waking her up, and throttling her (this only seemed like a good idea for two seconds, I promise)

Some of it is jealousy, of course. If Teddy had survived, I would probably be saying almost exactly the same things as this person did. I’d believe in miracles and think, pityingly, of those who didn’t get theirs, but the contrast between my fortune and theirs wouldn’t have haunted me much. Part of me wishes I was that more innocent person, that I were the one throwing out my little reflections on my cheap faith. Damn, but that’s humbling. I feel like I owe the world at large (and myself) an apology from the person I almost was. I’m sorry, so sorry for that.

Of course the fbook is a place that just seems to be rife with these sorts of comments, but they come up all the time in the outside world, too. I guess I’m surprised that I’m still surprised by how hurtful the term “miracle” can be when tossed around the way it tends to be. Heading into the holiday season, I suppose I should gird my loins for more miracle talk. I wish I had a better idea of how to go about effectively girding. How do you do it? Does it involve advanced blacksmithing skills? Because I don’t have those.

If I were a better person, I guess I’d try to talk to this young woman about how many hopes and dreams and plans we had for Teddy, about how much we’d looked forward to getting to know him and watching his life unfold, to seeing what he would do and how he’d make the world a better place. I’d try to show her that her laying claim to a miracle comes at the expense of my baby, my grief, my rage, and at the expense of other dead babies who were deeply loved and frequently prayed for. I’d try to get some real answers about her faith – is that really how she sees things? Is that really how she thinks it works? And maybe I’d be able to help her find a faith that is deeper and more mysterious than what she currently seems to have, or maybe I’d be able to see some kind of beauty in what she believes, possibly even without wanting to throttle her.

Alas, I’m not that strong of a person. I just hid her from my friends feed.



  1. God this is beautiful. I love your writing. I hide the ones on Fbook that distress. I think sometimes that the biggest miracle of my life is that somehow someone said, “Read this blog, and follow some links. There will be people there that get it.” And those people saved my life. I think I need some advanced blacksmithing skills and a hide feature on life. You know what I mean?

  2. Argh the whole ‘miracle baby’ or I was the recipient of a ‘miracle’ type talk just really, really irritates me. I’ve tried to hone it into a wry shrug, pat on the head, ‘you really don’t know what you’re talking about you innocent child’ kind of irritation but, in reality, my censored responses are a lot more snappish than that. And yes, they do involve throttling.

    I think that part of my anger is because I was nearly that person too, with my cheap and shiny faith.

    Thank you for the Sunshine recommendation a few posts back, I’m very much enjoying the combo of baked goods and non-sparkly vampires!

  3. Yup. And Yup. And I second Angie.
    This line from this post really resonates with me
    “I feel like I owe the world at large (and myself) an apology from the person I almost was. I’m sorry, so sorry for that.”
    I could not have said it better.
    I am on an IVF forum and the religion thing came up and no surprise it’s pretty much a me vs. them even though we are all fucking dealing with fertility. No matter- they all still talk about how their prayers will be answered and a gift/baby will come. So I just sit and snort at my computer. Ah the naivete…..

  4. Oh, Erica, this is so exactly perfectly true. I can scarcely contain my anger at the fact that other people claiming “miracles” comes at the cost of our babies who were miraculous and didn’t live. And had a similarly violent reaction to my friend’s mother-in-law, when she replied-all to an e-mail about her son’s car accident (in which no one was hurt) that “God was good, and watching over him.” I can’t argue her out of that “truth,” but lord, do I want to.

    And yes, the person that I almost was, the person that I would have been if Eliza lived? I really miss that innocence, but I’d also be an insufferable tool bag, who secretly believed that somehow luck went to people who deserved it.

  5. yes—the ferocity still stuns me too

    You were wanting to practice your swearing right? One thing to do with the anger.

  6. Argh, the anger. And the stupid, naive things people say.
    I actually did publicly comment on a comment (how ridiculous does that sound!) my cousin wrote about the amount of grandchildren my mother has – 11, instead of 14 (he neglected to include Joseph and my brothers recent loss of twins at 19 weeks, Sam & Charlie). I pulled him up, told him what a kick to the guts this was. To please not discount these 3 boys because to do so is one of the worst things one can do to a BLM/D. They were here, they mattered, they existed, they were wanted, loved, planned for blah blah blah. I saw myself as the educator and said as much. Did I go too far? I don’t know. My ‘tone’ wasn’t heavy. I just felt like it needed to be said. But, is it all futile? To preach to the non BL? They’ll never get it and we wouldn’t want them to (although, sometimes my dark side makes me feel like I do want them to get it – horrible huh?).
    Sorry, I’ve hijacked your post here.
    What I really wanted to say is I love this post. Thankyou. xo

  7. It’s funny (or maybe not) how quickly the wrong words or phrases can bring these old issues & hurts & feelings to the surface again. Great post!

  8. I am often shocked by the ferocity of my anger and it’s almost more surprising now that the gaps between outbursts are longer.

    Yeah, I was that shiny, silly person. I try to remember that when my hands twitch at a stupid comment.

  9. I hate the claims of miracles as well. It makes me shudder with anger and frustration. Like Brooke said, our babies were miracles (and I mean this in a non-religious tone if that’s possible) but they are dead. I hate the entitlement and superiority that claiming that God saved one child over another implies. It’s mean.

  10. Nodding, abiding. Not much else to be said, all the other lovely ladies beat me to it.

  11. Yes, the righteousness and entitlement do get to me but what gets to me more is that I may have been one of those folks. I have certainly learned to tread more lightly and choose my words more carefully, which isn`t such a bad thing after all.

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