Once again I'll refer you to this post if you have no idea what this series is about. This is the fourth installment.
Track Four: Take This Life.
Just before Christmas, 2010, myself and the band guys went to the now defunct Burton Theatre in Detroit to see Black Dynamite, a "blaxploitation" spoof. "Black-comedies" (African-American comedies...not to be confused with dark-content-comedies) are about the only sort of movies we can convince our drummer to spend his time viewing, so we went with bells on knowing he'd be super jolly to see this. As the previews started I received a picture-text from my wife of a positive pregnancy test on ye' old flip-phone. We hadn't been trying, but we hadn't been not-trying, regardless it was still a surprise! I called her and we gushed over the phone for a bit. New worlds and futures opened right up before us. Two weeks later she experienced some discomfort and bleeding, we went to the doctor to investigate. Surely enough, our suspicions were true, she had miscarried. It is amazing how quickly we can build visions of the future in our minds and emotionally attach to those ideas. In an instant, we were right back to 'normal,' but with a giant vacancy in our minds, and so we mourned what could've been.
Nearly four years ago my wife, Candice, took a job with a company that photographs newborns in local hospitals. Primarily she provides photos of precious, squishy, wrinkly little babies in baskets, but more regularly than we wish, she's asked to perform "demise" shoots for parents who've lost their baby through complications. With no real script to follow or procedures on how to handle these instances, she approaches parents with her own understanding of their loss, and with a natural grace she captures beautiful images of their child. Then hours, or days if they're lucky, parents have to return home with their vacancy. In the grande scheme of things, we had it easy. I cannot imagine what it must feel like to go a full nine months only to say to 'goodbye' upon delivery.
We have a beautiful four and a half year old little girl now. Her conception was wrought with fear and reaching the safe zone of twelve weeks was grueling. We continually hushed ourselves when we'd start talking about the future, uncertain that future would come. But with time, and a lot of knocking-on-wood, it came. It is hard when dealing in such uncertainties not to blame oneself for doing something wrong. It is hard to accept that sometimes there are no reasons for such loss. Even though our kid is alive and well, we still blame ourselves for any complications she has. Did we take enough vitamins when she was in the womb? Are we setting appropriate boundaries? Are we encouraging the behaviors we like to see enough? Are we doing what is best for her? Are we unconsciously repeating habits we hate? Are we failing her? Are we forgiving her trespasses? Will she forgive ours? ARE WE FAILING HER? I've been reassured by parents I love that the fact we are asking such questions means we're probably doing better than we give ourselves credit for. But the fear instilled, and the self-blame instilled from the child we lost, prior to her, still rears its ugly head.
This song stands with those who've lost, in an instant, their ideas of what the future looks like and the grief that comes with having to let go of what could have been.
(If you'd like to read more about the sort of work photographers are doing for those experiencing this sort of loss, this is a great article.)
(photo stolen from Pinterest.)