You can ask about her. You can say her name. Piper. It's like music to my soul that I already sing on repeat to myself. Often loudly and out of tune. It's permanently on the tip of my tongue like any first time mom eager for a change to discuss their child. This current ramble was inspired by my friend Mere who shared something she had read from another wise momma surviving child loss. You saying her name does not bring it up or remind me because I didn't forget. I didn't forget the love or the pain.
I can imagine people are afraid to spark the pain that acts as an undertone to my journey. But here it is dear friends, my forever permission, to speak of our child. No matter how much time has passed or how many children we may have, she will always be our first born.
It's why we say it aloud and often in our home. It's second nature to our families to speak of her. It's not shuddered against. It has no shock value. My Mom once said that her name, Piper Kai, sounded like a spice. I don't know where that memory came from but how perfectly ordinary.
I live along with the pain. It ebbs and flows. Sometimes consuming and other times almost unnoticeable but it never leaves. Grief and the loss of your loved one will never go away. Hearing her name makes me feel like everything is real.
Because I didn't forget.
If you say it and tears well up in my eyes. That's OK, it's for appreciation. It's for the memories I have and those imagined. It's gratitude. It's pain and love all rolled in to one big complicated ball. It's a welcome reminder how she existed. Although you did not have the pleasure of meeting her.
Rest easy, Piper. All my love.
Throat. That's how I fill in the blank but two of my sassier girlfriends have used other more imaginative parts of the anatomy to complete the mad lib. I've struggled to write this post. Mostly because I've read a lot of articles titled "What not to say to a grieving someone" and can check off nine out of ten. Also, I try to stay away from telling people what to do because I almost never know what to do. And lastly, if you are reading this you may have said one or more of those things to someone. Gulp, even us. Again here comes a choice. I choose to believe people are good, kind-hearted and well intended. Anything and everything said to us after our baby died was meant to comfort. I wanted to share some things I found helpful and a little hurtful.
Two weeks after Pipes died, our friend Jen, asked me if anything made me feel better. It caused me to dig deep, waay deep. I have never felt like her death was my fault. Yes, there is guilt and sadness but I worked very hard to provide a safe, happy house for Piper. In the coming weeks I held fast to that thought. It's terrible but not my fault.
If it wasn't my fault whose was it? A difficult thing for me was when people named our creator. "It was God's will". So I don't know a lot of things and in this case the answer to that. When I get to heaven I'll try to remind myself to ask him but I'll probably be having a dance party with Piper so I may forget.
The dreaded "at least". Any comment that begins with an "at least" is especially hard for me. 'At least she didn't suffer' or 'at least she didn't have brain damage' makes me feel a little woozy and at times violent. 'At least's' are like playing with fire. It leads me on a slippery slope of playing out sad scenarios. I cannot change the ending so why indulge.
But for me the hardest is when I've been met with silence. Like time just skipped a beat. Like I had been smuggling a watermelon rather than carrying our girl. I am guilty of the silence. A friend of my husband lost a child later in pregnancy, and I saw this woman frequently after their loss and you guessed it---I said nothing. I told myself it was because it would be too painful for her but in reality it was too uncomfortable for me. It's a messy, tragic thing to loss a child at any stage in life. To lose anyone ever but even more so not to acknowledge their life.
I am thankful for the brave people who navigated some painful encounters. Including those who might have suggested it was the all mighty's will. Because in my book for what it's worth: something was better than nothing. It mattered and we noticed.
Rest easy Piper Kai.
Piper Kai Bennett
I will scream, sing and share her story may it be short. Our only child was born still at 36 weeks secondary to an umbilical cord accident. This is our journey about choosing life rather than existence.