Grace Louise

A year ago today, Katie delivered little Gracie, her full-term stillborn daughter. It was just a knot in the umbilical cord, and I haven’t yet been able to figure out if that makes it even worse. Some days it feels like it does. There was nothing wrong with Katie or Grace, she would’ve been perfect, fine, alive.

It’s been a hard year. My own grief is probably 80% for my dear, dear daughter and her terrible loss and suffering, but there is a very potent ache and suffering for the loss of our little Gracie. Her quilt and Christmas stocking remain unfinished, and I think that’s such a good metaphor for this lost member of our family. Perfect and beautiful, but unfinished.

Gracie shows up most often in my dreams. In fact, a couple of nights ago I had a dream that was very clearly about Gracie, and I woke up in such terrible grief I was crying. But today we are all remembering October 21 of last year, the biggest tragedy my little family has experienced, by far. My divorce from my kids’ father was wrenching and devastating, but we all lived. It pales in comparison to this.

I don’t have anything new or insightful to say about our family’s loss; I’ve grieved and grieved over this past year, and witnessed Katie’s and Trey’s ongoing grief and efforts to find their way forward. The sharpness of the grief has lessened for me, into something like a dull ache that can still stop me, but I don’t experience that every day. It comes in waves. Three weeks ago I was putting groceries in my car at the supermarket and got hit by such a powerful wave of grief and anguish, I had to stop and get in the car and burst out crying, clutching the steering wheel to steady me. It lasted for five minutes, and then I continued putting away the groceries. It’s like that. Grief is an animal that has its own life and it takes up residence. It hibernates sometimes, but it’s still and always there, waiting for you.

And so today I can only acknowledge this one-year anniversary, and honor the memory of our little Grace Louise. We all loved her so much. I didn’t write a post on this day last year, obviously, but I wrote a lot in the 10 days afterwards. This post, written the night before I left to return to New York — never dreaming of the devastation that awaited me — is the most ‘popular’ post I’ve ever written. It has been shared widely, it received a lot of comments and caused so many people to write me private emails, and it’s received the most hits of anything I’ve ever written. It’s titled ‘notes from the mother in the middle of the night‘ and I think it really captures the moment in a way that is true and honest. I cannot read it without crying.

Poetry is such a comfort, and in the days around our loss I posted a good bit of poetry. Sometimes the comfort is nothing more than a clear articulation of the formless feeling that haunts you, but that is a comfort. I just found this one, and it speaks to the effect of time, how easy it is to forget, and how awful it can be.

GRIEF, by Stephen Dobyns

Trying to remember you
is like carrying water
in my hands a long distance
across sand. Somewhere people are waiting.
They have drunk nothing for days.

Your name was the food I lived on;
now my mouth is full of dirt and ash.
To say your name was to be surrounded
by feathers and silk; now, reaching out,
I touch glass and barbed wire.
Your name was the thread connecting my life;
now I am fragments on a tailor’s floor.

I was dancing when I
learned of your death; may
my feet be severed from my body.

Today I am also flying back to Austin so it’s a difficult day in so many ways. Tomorrow will be better. I know it will. xo

14 thoughts on “Grace Louise”

  1. I am grieving with you today, Lori. We have, and are grieving, painful losses, and the only comfort is in those who grieve with us. Oh, that I wish there were more comforters and fewer critics. The one thing I think of, the main characteristic that I see the most, is your ability to love. You love so deeply and so profoundly that it hurts you more than most when there is loss. Never change that, and know that many of your friends and family are here (there) for you.

    Big, gentle hug to you today.

    1. Michele, thank you for such deep knowing and understanding. I was so shocked by the way some people reacted when this first happened (!) and in recent months. Of course it’s how people are, sometimes, not wanting grief to go on, but grief has its own mind. Thank you for the way you see me and tell me what you see, especially since it’s about love. And thank you for sharing the grief with me, as you have done from the first day. You have been such a comfort. xoL

  2. Sweet Lori, and beautiful Katie and Trey, whom we know from your writing-may the Universe grant you serenity today. I weep with and for you, knowing Grace watches over your family and will today and forever, be part of you.

    There is a reason for things and I’m certain someday it will be a clear comfort to all of you.

    Much, much love-Cyndi

    1. And much love to you, dear Cyndi. I may have said this to you in a text, I’m exhausted and can’t remember things very well right now, but I am so grateful that she was named Grace. We all truly need grace, as we needed Grace. You’re so right, she will forever be part of us, never forgotten. And one of these days, without such acute pain. I know this. xoL

  3. I wish I could make give you a hug and make you a cup of tea, Lori. Something, anything, to let you know I’m thinking about you today. Those posts you wrote last year were the most moving pieces of writing I have ever read.

    1. Oh Kristie, you have let me know you are thinking about me today, and I feel your comment as a loving embrace. I’m so grateful for friends like you, and thank you for saying that about those posts. I think they really did capture the experience in an emotionally honest way. Thank you for holding me so gently today. xoL

  4. “I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.”
    ― Robert Fulghum

    You and all your family are in my heart today Lori.

    1. Oh Peggy……that was such balm, those lines. Laughter is the cure for grief, when you’re finally able to laugh, and love is absolutely stronger than death. Our love for Gracie will go on and on and on, in all of us. Thank you for giving me what you knew would be just the right thing (and you were right). xoL

    1. And I return the love to you (and yours, always), Megan. That first stanza of the poem chokes me no matter how many times I read it. It is beautiful and heartbreaking, exactly. xoL

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