10 days…

My friend
had her little boy
(an IVF miracle, which should give me hope)
on Mother’s Day.

He is just the sweetest thing.

I have so much love to give,
I want to smother my own daughter with it.

I look at this precious baby boy,
and I am so glad he arrived safely,
and I just wonder why my girl didn’t?

Billede 004

For my Mother’s Day
my sister-in-law’s parents sent me
a card which fit my mood
perfectly.

It reads,

Nothing
can make up for the absence
of someone we love.

And it would be wrong
to try to find a substitute.
We must simply hold out
and see it through.
That sounds very hard at first
but at the same time
it is a great consolation.
For the gap – as long as
it remains unfilled –
preserves the bond
between us.

It is nonsense to say that
God fills the gap.
God does not fill it
but on the contrary
keeps it empty
and so helps us to keep alive
our former communion
with each other
even at the cost of pain.

-Dietrick Bonhoeffer

My heart will always have a gap.

***

I visited
Malou’s
grave today
to arrange for some plants and flowers
to be planted
(by people with a greener thumb
than me or Tom).

The woman who works there
handles all of the details
with burials.
I remember her well.
She showed us around
less than a week after
Malou
was born,
and we had to pick out her spot.

She then agreed to let me take
Malou’s
urn home
before burying it.

I’ve always appreciated that.

Tom has seen her more than I have
this past year
(we check in to arrange things
for her grave periodically).

He says she always asks about me.

Today,
after not seeing her for 11 months,
I walk in without an appointment
and she recognizes me,
and even remembers that
Malou
is buried in plot number A83.

I didn’t even remember that.

It makes me feel good that
Malou
made an impression on this woman.

Before we could discuss anything,
she warned me that
she had to deliver an urn
for burial.

I remember this part too.
She went into the back room
and came out with a large urn.

Malou’s
was tiny.

It broke my heart
when she brought it out
last year.

Burying Malou

The urn she brought out today
was large.

She left the office
to deliver it to the grave,
and I just couldn’t resist.

I always wondered
what the urn room
was like,
the place
Malou
was kept for two weeks
before we buried her.

So I snuck in.

I mean, I was already in the office,
and the door was cracked open…

and you know what?

They keep the urns
on a shelf in a cleaning closet!

I am not kidding.

Bizarre.

My poor baby.
I left her in a cleaning closet??!
(although I have to admit,
this is odd enough that I find it funny)

Had I known that,
I probably would have kept her home
with us the entire time
until we buried her.

We chose not to for two reasons.

First, we were going out of town
(to Bornholm to pick
Malou’s
sandstone headstone)
and I knew I wouldn’t feel right
unless she was with me the entire time
(which wouldn’t be very practical).

Second, Tom was starting to get
a teensy bit concerned
that I wasn’t ever going to let go
of her.

You see,
when we did have her home,
I kept her in her crib

Malou at home

or wrapped in a blanket
in my arms.
I even slept with her one night.

I would shake the urn
and listen to her ashes move.
I was so close to opening it up,
because I wanted a pinch of her ashes
to carry with me
(that’s illegal in Denmark).
But ultimately,
I was too scared.

Has anybody out there
scattered their loved one’s ashes?
What do the ashes look like? feel like?
Just wondering.

Sometimes,
in my darkest moments,
I dream about digging
Malou
up just to have her remains
with me again.

I know it’s not her,
but it was her.

And I just want her back so badly,
it hurts.

But Tom reminds me that
that she is at peace,
and so it’s best to leave
her remains at peace as well.

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Published in: on May 18, 2009 at 14:11  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I went by myself to get Ada’s ashes from the funeral home. Hunter really didn’t want me to go alone, but it was just practical since his work is about 30 minutes away and it was late on a Friday afternoon when they called to say they had the ashes. I wanted to get them that day so we could scatter them on Sunday. They were in a small white box that was sitting on a table in the office – like the kind of table where you might see a paper cutter or other office supplies in a regular office. Your cleaning closet reminds me of that! I took the box out to the car and opened it – inside there was a very small bag tied up, and a tiny little amount of ashes inside. They might have filled up a shot glass. (I would never put my baby’s ashes in a shot glass, but it’s the only size comparison I can come up with!) I cried so hard when I saw how few ashes remained from her. No mother should ever have to pick up her child in a box.

    When we scattered her ashes at the beach, we each held some in the palm of our hands. I used my fingers from my other hand to move them around and see what they felt like – you’re not the only one with curiosity. They were mostly soft and gray, but there were little hard white bits that I later realized were bones. That was hard to see, but yet I needed to see it. We walked out into the water and both threw her ashes into the receding waves at the same time. Later my husband rinsed out the bag in our backyard – he couldn’t bear the thought of part of her going out with the trash. So, I like to think there’s a tiny bit of her here at our home.

    That might be more detail than you wanted! 🙂

  2. I just have to commend Carolyn and Beth for their continous support for steph. I think you both comment every time and what a blessing for steph to have two women to take the time to share their thoughts, ideas, experiences, and connections. That is so kind of you to reach out. Good job ladies! I am sure steph can agree that at times you are her lifeline! I thank you for sharing your strength with my dear cousin!
    Hugs to you both!

  3. Beth,

    Thanks for sharing your story about scattering Ada’s ashes. (Perfect amount of detail for me! :))

    I didn’t realize there would be so few ashes. Thanks for describing them. Not knowing what is in Malou’s urn can be bothersome, but actually, you make it sound just fine.

    And I’ll echo Becky in saying how much I appreciate your comments…I feel like you handle your grief so wonderfully that it really is an inspiration to me. So to know that you can understand my feelings as well makes me feel more “normal” if you know what I mean.

  4. I also think Beth’s description is good. You really would have no idea and your comparison and feelings were perfect. Steph, I am sure your pictures and memories of having Malou home with you are precious to you. I know I personally was pleased to see her home for a little while, it makes me feel a little closer to her (and you). Treasure these memories and you did what you wanted to do, afterall, she is your daughter.
    Hugs.


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