Still Standing’s Poetry Sundays-”Let Me Tell You Who I Am Now,” by Angela Miller

 

I am
Still a person, like you
With a life like yours,
Yet not.
I am
Still a mother like you,
Yet not at all
Like you
All at the same time.

I wish there was some way
You could understand me
Without becoming
Who
I am now.

You see, there’s a pain
I carry,
Unlike any pain
You carry
Unless you are a
Bereaved mother too.

This pain I carry is
Always there.
It doesn’t nap during the day, or get
Safely tucked into bed at night.
It follows me everywhere,
It never leaves my side.
Like my son used to do,
Only grief is not cuddly,
Nor sweet.

No,
A mother’s grief is a
Torturous
Life sentence
That no one wants to live.
It’s bargaining for a different ending,
Over and over again,
One where
No one
Dies.
It’s the panic of it happening
Again
Any time, anywhere…
It’s the toxic self-blame that
Never turns its finger
Around to blame
Itself.
It’s the spiraling of obsessive thoughts,
What if… If only…?
Seeping its poison through every
Crevice of my mind.
It’s the regret, so convincing that
I failed as a mother,
Powerless to protect my child from
Death.
Yes, grief’s emotions are as
Unpredictable
As the ocean tide,
Crashing down on me to
Drown me
Alive.

I have 3 kids, not 2.
My first son
Died.

There, I said it.
I know you may not want to hear it.
Neither do I
Yet
I have to say it
Over and over and over
Again
To slowly wrap my mind around
The incomprehensible
Truth.
My son is
Dead.

It might make you uncomfortable for a
Moment
Yet
I am
Uncomfortable for a
Lifetime.

Either I pretend he never existed,
for your comfort
Or, to my discomfort
This new life of mine,
Comes with dreaded and sometimes
Hostile reactions.
Blank stares
Awkward silences
Big eyes bugging out of shocked faces
Or worse
Looks of despair, pity, shame,
Judgment,
Even
Turning of backs,
That walk away, leaving me
In mid-sentence of my pain
Or worst of all,
Altogether ceasing to be my friend,
Upon discovering that,
I am
A bereaved mother.

Please
Do not judge me by circumstances
Beyond my control.
Do not think you are more powerful than God,
That this could
Never happen to
You.
Do not imply by your words
Or your looks
That I am a bad mother because
My child
Died.
Do not think I didn’t try
Everything
Humanly possible to save my son from
Death.
Let me tell you something,
If a mother’s love was enough to
Protect her children
From all harm
Then children
Would
NEVER
Die.

Please remember,
I did not
Choose
This version of my life.
I am
Living yet dying,
Breathing yet suffocating,
Laughing yet crying.

I am
A mother like you yet
A bereaved mother
All at the same time.
I am
A mother’s worst nightmare
Only it’s
Not a
Dream.

It’s my
Life.

While you
Complain about your kids spilling milk
Or painting on the wall
I swallow my grief whole
Silently choking
On my wish for my problems to be
Just. Like. Yours.
Paint splattered all over my walls
Milk spilled, covering my kitchen floor.
I am
Aching for the signs of my toddler
Living
Breathing
Playing
Alive 
In my home,
I am
Longing for the iterations of
What could have been.

Instead, I have an empty chair
at every meal,
The contents of my son’s entire life
Neatly stacked in sharpie-marked boxes
In storage
That now smells more like
Mildew and dust
Than of
My son.

Instead, my lap seems full
But it is always one-third
Empty.
I’m left with a math equation
that never equates.
No matter how many times
I count,
My children
Never add up to
Three.

One is always missing.

And a million more
Could never replace
Or erase the pain of missing
The one
Who now
Lives only in the
Confines of my
Memory.

There is
An eternal hole
In my heart,
In my life,
The size and shape of him
And only him
That no one and
Nothing
Will ever be able to fill.

I am
A bereaved mother,
A grieving
Quasi-supermom
I straddle time and space.
You might feel pulled in two directions,
But let me tell you
How it feels to be pulled
Between
Heaven and Earth
As a mother to an angel and
A mother to two living, breathing, laughing
Little boys.
A mother to the
Living
and the
Dead.

Let me tell you how it feels
To have my son
Deleted,
His existence denied because
It makes people uncomfortable
To hear he lived
And he died.

He is as real to me now
As he was in life.
He is not some
Inconvenient truth,
He is my son.
He will always be my son, just as
I will always be his
Mother,
Because
Love never dies.

Next time you see me
In the grocery store,
At the playground,
Or across the street,
Please remember:

I am
Still a person, like you
With a life like yours,
Yet not.
I am
Still a mother like you
Yet not at all
Like you
All at the same time.

I am
A bereaved mother
A grieving
Quasi-supermom
I straddle time and space.
I wish there was some way
You could understand me
Without becoming
Who
I am now,

A bereaved mother.

Bio:
Angela Miller is the mother of three boys, two she gets to hold in her arms, and one she forever holds in her heart.  Though she still struggles to get out of bed on some mornings, the infectious joy of her two living miracles gives her the strength to carry on, while also reminding her to soak up each precious moment for all it’s worth.  Angela enjoys writing, photography, kickboxing and loves connecting with other childloss mamas.  Recently, she started a moms’ group called Bereaved Mamas(www.meetup.com/Bereaved-Mamas/), where she leads weekly events and a monthly support group to connect and give hope to other moms suffering the loss of a child.

Photo Credit: Angela Miller

You Might Also Like:

Comments

  1. Beautiful!!!

  2. Marie LaBreche-Olson says:

    Angela, thank you for coming into my life. For planning events to connect with other bereaved moms. For being real. For listening to my story. For putting what I feel into words. I don’t believe everything happens for a reason, but what happened to me brought you into my life, and I am grateful for that.

  3. absolutely perfect. I wish I didn’t understand.

  4. So hauntingly beautiful. I have 2 angel babies I never got to meet… they are forever with me wherever I go… the years pass and yet not a day goes by that I don’t think of them and wonder what could have been or feel like I’m living with ghosts. Your words and sentiments are exactly what I’ve longed to say when confronted by the inevitable, “Do you have any children?” Each time, I hear myself mumble “No” to avoid the awkwardness, and yet my mind and heart scream “YES! Two little angels I never got to hold in my arms.” Thank you for sharing such a heartfelt tribute to your son and angel moms who hold their children in their hearts instead of their arms.

  5. You have put into words what I feel everyday in a meaningful way. I am a Mommy of 2 but I appear to this world to be a Mommy of 1. I miss you baby boy and think everyday what it would be like not to be torn between two worlds and have my daughter and son together here.

  6. What immpeccable writing on this eternal heartbreak. Thank you for giving such direct voice to all the feelings I have. “Straddling” is such a great word to describe trying to live your life as it is now, but always in the “other” world that not everyone sees or knows or can understands.

  7. Wow! What a nice poem! I recognize myself in many ways although I do not have any other kid than my angel baby…
    Thank you for sharing this!!!

  8. Yes. 100%. Exactly how I feel everyday. Thank you for writing this.

  9. I sit here and cry reading this. It’s so beautiful and spot on. I wish I didn’t know. I wish I had the same problems as my friends with babies. Hugs to you xxoo

  10. That was an absolute beautiful poem. I am not a bereaved mother, but have friends that are. I cannot fathom how the pain and loss feels. May God bless you!

  11. I am weeping at the truthfulness and beauty of this poem. I am the mother of a daughter who’s son is in heaven. My arms ache to hold my grandson. Thank you for sharing this.

  12. Thank You for this Beautiful poem. I understand the pain felt by so many baby loss mamas out there that sometimes I just want to scream at the top of my lungs and wish we could all not be going through this heartache. I appear to be a mom to 1, when in fact I am a mom to 2. None of the people in my life understand what I am going through because none of them have gone through what I am going through. Its so tough and I read your poem with complete understanding. Thank You for sharing this with all of us.

  13. Beautiful, achingly beautiful.
    Thank you!

  14. I wish I didn’t understand, and I wish ou didn’t… I wish noone had to live like this, every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day…With an equation that will never add up. This should be mandatory reading for some people I know…and use to know.

  15. Thank you to everyone for responding with such kindness and compassion. It has truly touched my soul.

  16. You have taken my breath away! I am so sorry for your pain. If I could string together words, I would like to think that it would have been close to what you have so beautifully expressed. -Denise

  17. You’ve expressed how I feel perfectly. Thank you.

  18. Thank you Angela x

  19. For those of us who do not know:
    Your words soften hearts…
    Open a door to a world we can not comprehend…
    Allow for a moment, an opportunity to grasp how moms, who know, live with every breath.
    This knowledge you share melts away the wall we have between us mothers. Your sharing helps to erase the pity, the awkward stares, the need to run and instead gives us understanding, no matter how small, so we can stand closer to you, hold you tighter, and love you with a more genuine love. You give all of us mothers a gift of understanding and compassion and a lesson in how: to be, act, support and love. You have left an indelible mark on my soul and for that I am forever grateful. Keep writing and we’ll keep reading.

  20. I have witnessed the horror and now i have taken a small understanding step in your shoes. I’ve cried many times during your journey; and your writing has been another humbling reminder of my own humanity. In sharing your soul, you have helped to ease my own insignificant grief if for just a minute. Bless you.

Speak Your Mind

*