October Has My Heart

October 11, 2017

Over the past 14 months I have acquired a new tribe. It is made up of some of the strongest women, I never knew I’d meet. We met through a match-making group, one stitched together by the highest Chief there is. We wear armor, some visible to the eye, some only visible to those in our circle. Tattoos, bracelets, crystal necklaces, books, flags, pages in bibles, earmarked for the verses that speak to our souls.

We have dream catchers on our bed posts that most nights remain empty at dawn. We have handkerchiefs, which were once starched and folded to a point in our father’s suits, but were handed down as our most precious gift(s) were unwillingly handed back to the Heavens.

Some of us have our best friends by our side. To have and to hold, in good times and in bad – for some of us, this has become the rock to which our family clings. For others in my tribe, they’ve come to our circle alone, but they will rise by the support of mothers, whose outstretched hands hold much of the same.

These are hands who first held their children upon birth. Arms who held their children born sleeping. Hands who’ve held their babies, long after they’ve taken their last breath. Bodies who’ve protected lives of little ones for as long as the could. Hands who have soothed their son to sleep, while singing Amazing Grace, with no knowledge of the plan God has for them over the next minute, hour, day or week.

These hands hold pens, paintbrushes, crayons, glue guns, scissors, fabric and clay. They create some of the most meaningful pieces of love, which most of the time, only those in our tribe know how much of ourselves is in each piece. Our hands pick up pennies and feathers, sunflowers and leaves shaped like hearts and save them in jars and boxes in our home, like hoarders.

For that is what we are, hoarders. We are the Grieving Mothers Tribe.

We hoard dates and pictures and memories. Clothes and blankets that some of our children had the chance to wear, if only for a moment. We hoard time, with our closest family and our living children, and we choose wisely with whom each moment is spent. These women of my tribe, we know what the “unimaginable” means. Worse yet, we’ve lived it.

For many of us, we’ve seen the world stop. We’ve been yanked outside reality, gasping for air, grasping for our children, only to be shoved back in to the hustle and bustle by the meanest bully there is – Death.

We’ve stood beside our husbands and partners as options were shot at us like darts – flowers, colors, sprays, vases, plots, urns, casts of footprints and the tiniest of hands, white caskets that look like they are sized for baby dolls. But they will hold our angels until we can hold them again.

As a tribe, we weren’t prepared for battle. We weren’t given our armor before the enemy stormed our family. We weren’t taught how to dart from the pages of our journey or the Chapter that takes away our everything. I know for me, I wasn’t given the opportunity to bargain with God. To trade my life for my sons. Although, given the chance, I’d do it all again. Take all the pain. Just for each moment we had with him. I don’t believe you’d find many in our tribe that wouldn’t.

So, during the season where the leaves change colors and fall to the ground; during the autumn season when we lose minutes of daylight and have to navigate through many hours of darkness, I hold tight to this tribe. My tribe. I hold tight to their waves of grief, to their tears. I grasp the memories they share of their children. When I talk to my son, I ask him to tell their angels how proud their mommas are of them or that they’re having a hard day. I am honored to hold their broken hearts in my hands, where I have held my angel. I am grateful for the light they give to my days and the hope they provide through their journey through grief. In a month that is surrounded by voices, begging for society to hear our tribe’s song, to listen to those that are the faces of pregnancy and infant loss, it is here that I find refuge. I find belonging. I find acceptance. I find my voice. It is here my heart finds hope, even through the hurt.

As a grieving mother, October has my heart.

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  • Katie Stern

    Katie’s son, Toby, died on August 24, 2016 in his sleep from SIDS. She and her husband, Dan, are working to establish The Little Fox | Toby’s Foundation to spread joy to children and families in their region, while educating others on a journey of a grieving parent. Katie lives in Pittsburgh with her husband, their two-year old son Lucas, and their two boxers – Murray & Theo.

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