At the beginning of this week I noticed the date of my article for Still Standing Magazine: September 3rd. This day, 3 years ago, I held my twin girls in my arms for the first, last and only time – together, alive and in my arms, where they belonged. Holding them together was my vision all the along the pregnancy.
Holding her as she passed away, was not.
Today, September 1st, as I’m writing this, it is their birthday. It is a day with mixed feelings for me. My husband and I went into Ananda Mae’s bedroom this morning and sang ‘Happy Birthday to you’ with both their names. My daughter said: “No, it’s MY birthday.”
Understanding the self-focused world of a 3-year-old toddler I replied: “Oh, yes, sweetie, and it’s also Amya’s birthday but you get all the presents.”
When I’m with Ananda Mae, she draws all the attention. Still, there are moments I have time to reminisce what it would be like to have the two girls. It’s not hard to conjure this image with identical twins… I don’t have to think what she would look like, how she would talk, sing, smile or cry. I have a living example right in front of me, every day. I am grateful for what I have, at the same time there is sadness for what is lost.
Now, as I write these words, my thoughts go back in time: when I held her in my arms. She was so tiny, with slender limbs and dark short hair. She had extremely long finger and toes, just like her sister and just like me. She lay there in my right arm and I watched her every breath. Her heart was beating fast. I held her on my bare skin and felt her warm skin on mine. I breathed in her scent and imprinted my memory with her facial features, her long lashes and red lips. She didn’t move much but then she opened her eyes and stretched out her arm as if to touch my face.
It was the first, the last and only time I held her.
I don’t know how mothers experience the loss of one child and return home with empty arms. I can read about it, hear you talk about your experience and empathize with you. The truth however is that the loss of one twin and the two miscarriages is the only personally experienced reference of child loss that I have.
In life I choose my focus.
Sometimes I think: “You should be happy to have one, others have no children.”
I am happy.
I focus on what I have and what I’m grateful for.
Yet, life is a coin with two sides.
Sometimes, the coin flips unexpectedly and there is a sting of sadness as I see a twin stroller coming my way or seeing a mother preparing for the arrival of her baby. The waves of sadness come and go. That is life. With or without loss.
When I can, I choose my time to turn to the coin and spend conscious time in reflection. And that is today, that is now.
You are my child.
You are Ananda Mae’s sister and always will be.
For some you are a memory.
For others you are just part of a story.
You don’t get any presents or mentions in birthday cards.
But you live in our hearts and memory forever more.
Happy Birthday – Happy birth-into-the-afterlife Day
My child, I miss your physical presence on our lives.
A year ago, on the day I spent in reflection, I created this video (click here to view it). It was gift to my husband as fathers’ day in Australia coincided with the girls’ birthday. This is just an example of what I did for my reflection and my memory, and as a tribute to my younger daughter.
What do you do for yourself and to remember your child?
Nathalie Himmelrich is the author of the forthcoming book Grieving Parents: Surviving Loss as a Couple.
The book cover for has been launched on September 1st 2014 – make sure to enter the giveaway to stand a chance to win 4 books, a custom angel dust butterfly by Carly Marie and more awesome prices! -> check it out here.
Nathalie Himmelrich is the author of a number of resource books for bereaved parents and the producer of the Podcast How to Deal With Grief and Trauma. As a relationship coach, grief recovery expert, and bereaved mother herself she believes that relationships (intimate and with other support people) are the foundation for a healthy grieving experience. She is also the founder of the Grieving Parents Support (GPS) Network and the May We All Heal peer support group.