#11 – Register for the cremation ceremony
The folder from the emergency room at the hospital is a minty green, the color you’d expect medical information to come in. The folder doesn’t look like it weighs as much as the world. Nope, doesn’t look that way at all. It’s about 15 by 25 cm and inside contains a booklet, three pamphlets (one green, one white with hearts, one brown with trees), three photocopied articles (one on purple paper), and a slip of paper with contact information. The folder has a narrow white label on the front cover containing script text in the same green as the folder stating elegantly “When A Pregnancy Ends”.
The form I need to review to cross #11 off my list of my “101 things to do in 1001 days” is in that green folder. On about day three at home after losing the Amazing Tectonic Baby, nursing my incisions, eating percocet, I took each piece within that folder and examined it until I couldn’t see through my tears. I couldn’t (wouldn’t?) read everything, but I looked at each piece, held it, rubbed my hand across each title, and tried to figure out what each meant so that if and when I needed it, I knew what it looked like. I felt like, with all the loss and emptiness that was engulfing me, drowning me, suffocating me, someone had put together this folder as a life jacket to keep me alive. I knew somehow that it was my own job now to grab this jacket and figure out how to put it on.
As days have passed, I have become more curious about the folder, about those pamphlets, papers, articles, slips of paper within this life jacket. My #11 is related to a minty green pamphlet, matching the minty green folder, titled “Silent Hopes” and displaying a photographic color image of a tombstone shaped like a teddy bear. The gravity of having any tombstones in cutesy kiddie shapes is a dark thing covered in gooey tar that eats happiness, but this photo shows the grave marker in the sunlight, flowers growing nearby, and it doesn’t seem too scary of a place. It seems like a peaceful place. It seems like it could be a healing place. The pamphlet opens and on that second page sits the paragraph that sits in my heart today:
“Every two months, pregnancy remains are taken to xxxx funeral home and cremated … Families are invited to attend the Memorial Services, which are held in May and October at xxxxx cemetary … ashes will be placed in the scattering garden dedicated to ended pregancies. Families may choose to have a name inscribed in a plaque which is placed in the memorial garden.”
The next page is the registration form. Would I like to be advised of the next memorial service? Would I like baby’s name and/or family name inscribed on a plague? What is Mom’s Name? Dad’s Name? Baby’s Name?
That’s usually the spot I come to where I gently close the minty green pamphlet and place it carefully back into the minty green folder. I’ve been really wrong about how to find peace and healing in all of this, although I’m definitely learning when to stop in my tracks and retreat a bit. That panic over here? Yeah, I’m starting to realize that when it starts to swell, I just really need to sit the hell down rather than pushing myself. That horrible ripping of time outside of the pregnancy loss support group, stalking them through the windows and weeping steadily, unable to muster the strength to enter the room for their vigil. For me, that’s what it was – their vigil. I wasn’t ready to admit that that group, that vigil, this folder, this pamphlet in front of me, this cremation and scattering of ashes are real and true, and most importantly, pertaining to me.
This is also now where I reach a conundrum. I know that I want to at the very least know details about the upcoming service. I think we will want to go as we begin to recognize the importance of rituals. I’m pretty sure I would like something in the garden to symbolize (insert arm waving in circles here) all of this. I have to send in this registration and I can’t remember the exact deadline date that the amazing counsellor specified. So, I have to fill out this paperwork, put it in an envelope, address the envelope, slap a stamp and mail ‘er off to prevent any possible future disappointment, regret, etc. Normally I’d just let things happen in their own time, but I really need to do this one to hit the fuzzy deadline – and weighing everything involved means that I’ve had to go ahead and just get the job done. This morning I went through each of those steps with thoughtfulness and, although I momentarily thought it would be a gas to have a plaque in the garden memorializing “The Eclectic Electric Tectonic Baby”, it seemed … wrong… so we settled for Baby “LastName”. After it was mailed off, I realized in shock that I hadn’t left any room for future Tectonic Babies by using “Baby LastName”. Which means that I must hold in my heart the hope that this will be the first and the very last that we at LastName have to leave in the memorial garden.
And a return of hope, however subtle or accidental, is giving me a bit of healing this afternoon.