Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Poem After Visiting Friends Who Have an Infant Daughter

Feb 2, 2014

I wrote this poem after we visited friends on a trip to CA. They have 3 living children. We have 3 children, too, 2 living, 1 dead. 

It's a perfect moment
Raining outside, but we're warm inside
Sweet Honey singing sweet songs
One boy asleep with Gramma
One boy asleep in the middle of the bed
Pillows protect him from rolling off in either direction
We check
Check again
Make sure his chest rises and falls
Make sure he hasn't mastered a roll over
Make sure he is alive

My husband finishes some work
I chart our afternoon
Exploring San Francisco
We rest

We recover from this morning
Spent with dear friends
Spent listening to squeals of children
3 boys wrestling on a trampoline
It can't have been a good idea,
But boy was it fun
2 babes in arms, our boy, their girl
Laughter, comparing notes on preschool, sleep habits, tv rules
Staying far away from the difference between raising boys and girls
They will know what that's like, be able to compare
We will not
They will know how it feels to hold a daughter, living, in their arms
We will not
We will not know how it is different
We will only know the pain of missing out on this
The pain of missing you

I had prepared myself
My husband,Caught up in the morning's chaos and being late, had not
We got in the car to go home and he was so sad
Holding their little girl made it all very real again
What we lost
What we should have but do not
Our little girl

Conversation with our almost 4-year old in the car on the way home
They have 3 kids and we have 3 kids
We have 3 kids but one is dead
We will answer this question
Do this sorry math
Over and over
Your big brother, trying to make sense of things
Just stating the truth about our family in a public setting
Makes others squeamish
Shocks them
Makes them sad
But he doesn't notice, not yet
And so, in the obstetrician's office, at the birthday party, at day care, out to dinner, while exiting the airplane, at the playground
He states these facts about our family
2 babies
1 big boy
1 dead
We are honest
We are matter of fact
We clasp hands, out of sight, squeeze
Say yes, that's right
We wish it was different
If only it was different


  1. Oh goodness. This brings tears to my eyes. My kids, too, ask those questions and seek clarification and speak it in public over and over and over.

  2. It's such a strange place to be, isn't it. You know you're doing the right thing being open and matter-of-fact about it, but it's just not the norm. And there you are, in public, and then your child articulately describes to complete strangers the greatest pain in your life. It's hard to figure out the right next step there. We just usually nod and respond to him and move on. It's all you can do. XO