Shortly after I gave birth to my stillborn daughter Mia, my husband and I were given the difficult task of picking a place to scatter her ashes. And though this task was both tragic and morbid, we somehow found ourselves embracing it for what it was. We knew that this would be one of the only things we get to do for our daughter as her parents. All our other parental responsibilities that we so longingly dreamed about, were stolen from us.
We wanted to choose a place that meant something to her life and to us as a family. At first we chose Kitchener, Ontario – which was the town we lived in when we found out that we were expecting our first baby. Where it all started.Where my husband and I created our first home together. Where We were far away from everyone and everything and it was just us.
We had moved since then, and when the time came, for reasons I can’t quite remember anymore, we were unable to make the trip down there to scatter her ashes. We ended up having to do a quick google search and we picked a random park that we had never been to before. I was so disappointed with this at the time, because I felt like it wasn’t good enough and that it was somehow meaningless.
But when we got there, I had a change of heart and I felt it was perfect.
It rained all day that day. All around us, and in our hearts. And the rain somehow felt sacred to me, because it reflected exactly what was happening inside me. Raining. Pouring. Flowing. Cleansing. Washing away.
We found a little opening to the water and we balanced on the rocks, held onto each other, and we let her go.
After it was over, my husband hugged me tightly and I said to him “Thank you for being her father.” and he said to me “Thank you for being her mother.”
There was something magic in those moments. There was a thinness of the life around me. I could feel it. Like the veil between our both our worlds was light and thin. There was a togetherness. A knowingness. A certain magic that surrounds the rituals of death.
We return to that stream in the summer time, and last year we even got to bring Reya with us for the first time. This year, Reya is even older and we knew it would be so special to see her explore her sisters home.
And oh my, in the summer time, Mia’s stream is completely transformed. The trees sway in the warm breeze, the dappled sunlight on the dirt, sounds of laughter filter through the air. The stream is filled with children playing in the water, catching fish in their nets, jumping rocks, splashing each other. It looks like pure childhood. And reminds me that we picked the most wonderful place for our daughter to rest.
Time changes everything. The seasons change. Flowers wilt and die, and then burst to life once more. Feelings fill and then they disperse into the atmosphere of which we live our mundane every day life. My grief, once an ocean, has settled into a quiet stream that flows through the cracks of my heart. I honour it deeply for now I see that what once drowned me, also quenches my thirst and nourishes me.
I know that I will never fall out of love with my firstborn child, and perhaps that means I will never fall out of grief either. And I don’t want to.
When I am here, in this space, I can feel my daughter all around us and within. When I am here, I feel a coming together of my family, of our babies both born, and unborn, of our children both living and waiting.
I like to believe that we chose each other. My family. I believe that we chose to walk each other home and I believe that we walked Mia back home, and now she’s walking us back home. I believe that we chose to witness each other experience this one precious life, through it’s beauty and brutality. I believe we are here to watch each other rise and grow.
And, I believe that, we, as a family decided, that every year, we will meet again, at this little stream in the summer time.
And we do.