loss

A Letter to My Friend on the Birth–And Death–Of Her Son

Young attractive woman, sitting on a window, looking outside, lonely mood

Dear Rachel,

It is with the greatest of sadnesses that I write you this letter today. I have written and erased this letter in my mind hundreds of times. A week ago, I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Jacob is born on Mother’s Day?” And yesterday was an ordinary afternoon. I sat in the JCC parking lot, and thought to check my phone before driving home.

And then I saw your text, the worst I’d ever received.

Adina I lost the baby.

I blinked.

There had to be a mistake.

I read the text again, and immediately started crying.

“Fuck!” I shouted at my phone, agitated and trembling. I got out of the car and I called you.

“Tell me what you need, Rach,” I cried into the telephone. I wanted to do whatever it took to alleviate your suffering or bring you the slightest comfort.

I recognized that there was nothing I could do that would bring you peace at this moment, in the face of this inexorable loss. But how does anyone recuperate or even imagine recuperating, in the face of this?

I wanted to hold your hand and go to the end of the earth screaming in ragged pain. I wanted to be there for you, as your friend and sister, because I’ve known and loved you since we were a pair of naughty teenaged girls.

But I had to be there for you in another way, too: I had lost a child and I was acutely aware of what you were going through.

“You are going to get through this,” I said, “I love you.”

After we got off the phone, I screamed. “This is a fucking catastrophe,” I shouted into the sky. Even as I recognized that no good could come from my histrionics, all I wanted to do was get hysterical, to scream and rage and lose my mind.

There are things that I can’t put into words so I won’t try, but there were also things that I wanted to say and couldn’t at that time, and so I will put them down here for you now.

After Talya died, I saw a therapist whose own infant had died some 20 years before.

“Why?” I ask her. I wanted answers where none were forthcoming, wanted an explanation that would make me able to understand, to cope, to live with this.

“I don’t know why, Adina,” she said. “I don’t know why it happened to your child, and I don’t know why it happened to mine. Maybe it was so I could sit here these years later and say you are going to make it through this.”

I wish I knew words that could ease your burden, take away even a fraction of your pain. I haven’t stopped crying since I heard the news, don’t know how the world can go on after this, but it does. My grief at Jacob’s loss doesn’t hold a candle to yours, but I am devastated for you and angry at the universe and I want to put my fist through a wall, would do it if I thought I could undo even a moment of your pain.

We are on the eve of Mother’s Day, an added cruelty. It will be hard and hellish, brutal in its unfairness but you will make it through. You will always be Jacob’s mother, as long as you are alive and after you die; there is nothing that can take that away. You are strong like the matriarchs, Sarah, Rebekah, Leah and Rachel, and your ancestors who survived so much for you to be here.

You are going to make it through this. You are going to question everything. You are going to find yourself in love with this child and his ghost and you are going to carry him with you forever. You are going to have to let go of this person that seems impossible to live without, and you will have to live without.

You are going to question justice and you are going to cry and you are going to rage and you are going to doubt God. But you are going to go on, and though it will seem impossible, though you will question the reasons, you will find a way to live, for yourself and also for Jacob.

Jacob was beautiful, perfect, and loved. Although he was born still, he existed and he will be remembered. You will grieve and you will rage and nothing in the universe will make much sense for a long time, but I promise it will again. One day, impossible though it may seem, you will feel joy again. I cannot tell you when, or how, or why, but you will. You are his mother and you are beautiful and brave.

I want to tell you that you will get through this, and I want to tell you how. But I do not know how.

Here’s what I do know: with the support of friends and loved ones, you will. There are people who love you more than you will ever realize, and we will carry you when you are unable to stand on your own. We will shelter you when the storm is too great. Know that you are stronger than the storm. Know that we are walking with you and we will carry you. And know that we are carrying Jacob in our hearts, now and always.

I love you.

Adina

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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