#MeToo

At this moment there is a hashtag campaign on social media called #MeToo. The purpose of it is to bring to light the plague of sexual harassment and assault. Anyone that has experienced sexual harassment or assault is encouraged to say #MeToo, once again bringing to light this epidemic.

I am shocked at how many “Me Too” statements we are seeing online right now. But also, not shocked, which is both sad and enraging.  

I would stake my life on the the belief that most women have experienced sexual harassment or assault in their lifetime, to some degree. This should not be the norm. I personally know at least a handful of people (women, mainly, but some men as well) that could raise their hands and say “Me Too”, but don’t, and that’s okay. They are not required to tell us their stories. It’s their own testimony to tell. Or not to tell.  

I can remember way back when I was a kid, about 8 or 9, reading in the corner of a Cole’s bookstore and a man was ‘casually’ walking around with his penis hanging out of his pants. It may sound funny at first, but when you really think about it, is it? A middle aged man with grey hair and a pot belly with a knit sweater and khaki pants, walking around in a child’s presence like that? I can think of a similar instance while at a swimming pool with friends a couple of years later.

I also recall as a teenager being leered at by, again, middle aged men, shouting obscene things at me on the street while I walked to the mall to meet friends or down the boardwalk along the beach. Gross things. Then, having them laugh at me when I stuck up for myself and shouted back. It happened all the time.

Please know, that I am not comparing my experiences with people that have been physically or psychologically assaulted. I shared those two incidents because like I said above, many people have been harassed or even assaulted to some degree. Some were just kids. You, reading this, have someone in your world that has experienced it. That’s a promise.

For too long this type of thing has been swept under the rug of shame and power. Shame of the victim, power of the perpetrator. Perhaps #MeToo will help bring people peace as they share their stories, while destroying the mantle the perpetrator has hidden under for so long. Even if it’s just a little rip or tear, it is something. A beginning.

 

Featured image from Photopin

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What I’ve Read Lately…

Do you ever go through times where you read book after book after book? Like you finish one, then you immediately start the next? Then, all of a sudden, The Slump comes and you find it hard to slog through a couple chapters in the same amount of time. I recently went through both stages, and I am currently coming out of the latter. Ugh.

To distract myself from finishing my current book (and other projects I should be doing…), I decided to write about the last few that I have read. Let’s begin:

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

“Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.” 

I loved this book! It has a creative storyline with more than a few hilarious laugh-out-loud moments. This isn’t suprising, since Maria Semple was a writer on the show Arrested Development (which I also love). I would definitely recommend this book to those looking for a creative storyline with both heart and humour.

Get it here!

 

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

I picked this one up at Costco for my grandma. Normally, I would not have bought it for myself, as it was the one with the TV graphics on the cover, and I have a thing against reading the movie/TV versions of books. (Anyone else? Is that odd? Normal?) Alas, I had a feeling she would enjoy this book so I bought it for her. (Aren’t I a stellar grandchild?)

She devoured this in a day and a half and gave it back to me and insisted I read it. I obliged, and I’m glad I did. It is an easy, quick read with a fast plot, which is great for this kind of genre, in my opinion. It was a perfect summertime read, and I would gladly check out the rest of Liane Moriarty’s novels! (I also have yet to watch the HBO adaptation – I’m excited to check it out)

Get it here!

 

Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God (The Scandalous Truth of the Very Good News) by Brian Zahnd

Whew, that’s quite the title! This is a nonfiction book and much heavier than the above two books. I rarely ever read nonfiction, but in the past year I started following Brian Zahnd on Twitter and have been listening to his podcasts almost weekly, and I really enjoy his teachings. (Zahnd is the senior pastor of Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Missouri)

I really appreciated and liked this book. It’s easy to read, and Zahnd uses language that is easy for a layman (laywoman?) like me to understand, yet they challenge me still. There are many layers to the book, but at the core Zahnd asks: Is seeing God primarily as wrathful toward sinners true or biblical? Is fearing God a normal, expected behaviour? 

The subject deserves an entire blogpost or series, so just go get the book if you’re intrigued! I look forward to reading Brian Zahnd’s other works.

Get it here!

 

The Witches of New York by Ami McKay

I was excited to read this, because I absolutely loved Ami McKay’s other novels, The Birth House and The Virgin Cure. However once I got reading, I wasn’t as thrilled with this one as I was with the others. I found it a bit slow-going and I found myself doing the dreaded slogging-through-the book thing just to finish it. In the end, I wouldn’t say it’s a terrible book, just not my favourite of her three. There are a couple characters that McKay introduced that I would have liked to have seen go further, but they just kind of disapeared in to the story.

Would I recommend it? Not necessarily. However, I am still an Ami McKay fan and will for sure read whatever is next for her!

Get it here!

 

Just Kids by Patti Smith

Oh gosh, you guys. I picked this up at a thrift store, intrigued by the author. I have heard Patti Smith’s name a lot in my lifetime, knowing she is an artist, a singer, a songwriter, and someone that made a mark on her generation. I went in knowing absolutely nothing about the book, about her, or about her then-partner Robert Mapplethorpe.

As I read, I felt the story unfolding like a tightly budded flower blooming slowly. Each page was a petal opening (sorry for the cliche, guys), eventually getting to the core of it all, and when I did I flippin’ BAWLED. Like weeping complete with tears, snot, mucus, and gasping. Serisouly. I’m really glad I was alone when I finished this!

This is a book I will treasure for a very long time, if not forever. It will at least remain very high in my top five favourites. So, do I recommend this? HARD YES.

Get it here!

 

Thank you for reading my reads! Are you on Goodreads? I just signed up recently (late to the party). Follow me and I will follow you back! www.goodreads.com/doucey

Also, I want to know: What are you reading? If you have any recommendations for me, I’m all ears!

Book images from Goodreads. 

One of those Days…

I was given a gift the other day.

Ever have one of those days where you majorly question your skills as a parent? Where you ask yourself things like, Do they learn ANYTHING I’m teaching them? Do they have ANY manners whatsoever? Am I a total pushover? Am I too hard on them? Why am I being such a cow? WHY WON’T THEY LISTEN? Why is he kicking me in the face?!

You have? Great. I had one of those days last week.

After my ‘one of those days’ days, I put my two boys to bed and flopped on the couch with a big sigh. I envisioned myself clocking out of a hard day at the ole job site, wiping the sweat off my brow, ready for a cold one with the Mister, leaving all my work problems with the setting sun.

Alas, the job of Parenting is not like the job site.

One of them got out of bed (again) and asked for a drink (again). Then the oldest one got up (again). Except this time he said, “Mom, I brought home some jewels for you…they’re in my backpack. I mean, they’re not real jewels, but I brought them for you.”

“Um…okay Finn. Thanks, Love. Goodnight.”

Then he went back to bed, this time for good.

Curious, I got up, checked his bag. I didn’t find anything but a soggy student planner, from when he left his backpack at the playground at school and it rained that night. I put it on the counter to dry out, and I went back to my spot on the couch.

Except there was this nagging feeling in the back of my head telling me that I had to check his bag again. So I did. In the tiny front pocket was a folded up brown paper towel. I put it on the carpet at my feet and unfolded it.

jewels

There sat a pile of sparkling, faceted, plastic sequins. Every colour of the rainbow.

I started to bawl. Like, lips curled, puffy pink eyes, ugly cry.

While at school, doing some art thing first graders do, he saw these”jewels”, and thought of me. All the frustration and temple-rubbing I did that day sloughed off. I was then reminded of when Jesus rubbed mud in the blind man’s eyes and the scales fell off, and he could finally see. For me this was a holy moment – like God saying, “See? He really does love you. He sees you.”

I am going to keep these sequins forever, brown paper napkin and all. Next time I feel like an invisible parent, I will pull these sparkling plastic jewels out, and remember that I am loved and seen by the ones I love and see the most.

Why Should Women? On teaching boys how to REALLY treat a girl | brandileedoucette.com

Why Should Women?

Recently, there was a story in my city about a woman that was sexually assaulted while at work. She was a real estate agent who was at an open house by herself, and a man came in and took advantage of her. Thankfully, she was able to fight off her attacker, but I can only imagine the lingering scars she will have to live through for some time.

Sadly, this is not the first instance.

Or the last. I wrote that paragraph a few weeks ago. Since then, there have been more news headlines of women being attacked, beaten by their partners, raped, murdered.

I find myself asking, almost weekly: Why?

Why can’t a woman go to work, or take her kids to the park, or go to a party, or go for a run while listening to music, or walk to her car, or enjoy a walk through a forest, or ride the bus, without looking over her shoulder? Why can’t a woman go to bed without wondering how she would fight off an attacker, should one break in while she is sleeping? Why should women walk to their car with their house keys poking through their fist as a makeshift weapon?

Why should women be taught to be the ones on alert like it’s a sixth sense? 

How do we change this? I don’t want to claim to have all the answers, but I might have some ideas. Ready? Here goes:

Let’s teach our little ones, especially our boys, how to really treat a woman.

How is that? Easy: like a human.

Let’s continue to tell them, and show them, that girls have worth. That they are not mere playthings or property. Let’s show them that women are partners and equals. Yes, let’s teach them to open doors for ladies, stick up for, and never hit, girls. (Aren’t those also ways we would like them to treat everyone though?)

I believe we also need to teach our little ones that they are not simply entitled to everything they want. Cause you know what? Sometimes you can’t have it. That includes our fellow human beings.

I don’t know – my kids are just 6 and 3 at the moment. My mind is at the place of what I can teach them now, today, in this moment, that just might make a difference for when they become young men. Because, when they are men, teaching them then will be too late. Right now, that includes the following:

If our sons tell my husband or me to stop tickling them, we stop.

If they tell us they don’t want to talk right now, we wait until they’re ready.

If they tell us they don’t want a hug or kiss, we don’t force them to receive it from us.

Sometimes, we tell them no, because the world will not always say yes to them. 

(Hey, I know we are not perfect parents. Life is a series of trial, errors, and sorry’s. We are trying our best and learning as we go)

Years ago, I read an article written by Trisha Baptie on SheLoves MagazineIn it, she writes of how she teaches her son to see the world from a woman’s perspective.

As I read the article, I had some ‘me too’ moments as I thought back to the times (as a teenager) I had been humiliatingly catcalled, whistled at, or honked at, from passing cars or porches as I walked down streets. The times I was leered at by male passersby, or simply stared at as I walked passed a crowd of guys. These instances made me feel uncomfortable, unsafe, and vulnerable. This is merely a Lite version of what some women and girls experience and feel.

“May my son be a man who lives life profoundly aware of the space he takes up in the world and what he can do to make women feel safer in it.” -Trisha Baptie

That right there is my prayer. I pray that my sons grow up aware of how women feel, of what their world looks like; that it is not always the same world they live in.

And, in turn, if one day my sons have sons of their own, they will teach them these same things.

And if some day my grandchildren have sons, they will teach them, too.

And so on.

And so on.

And so on.

 

When Christmas Feels like a Roller Coaster

Typically, December 1 is the day that Christmas begins in our house. Decorations, holiday tunes and movies, Pot of Gold chocolates, and Bailey’s over ice. I always love this day: It’s the set up, togetherness with family, and the anticipation of the days to come. The hauling out of cold rubber bins from the garage, the sifting through items that have sat waiting in the darkness for their time to shine for an entire year. We pull out the ornaments and reminisce about them – who the giver was or how old we were when we received them.

My husband untangles the lights we are to hang outdoors that frame our garage, and he ventures out in the coldness and frost and ice, our little ones supervising his efforts. And when it’s all done and set up, our dark living room bathing in a soft creamy light, the babes sleeping upstairs, we sit back and smile with a warmth that is set apart for this season. You know the one. It’s a feeling that we have a hard time putting a name to, but one that many of us just know.

For me, despite all this goodness, the season can often feel like one big roller coaster. Not the entire ride, just the part when your car is slowly climbing up, up, up, then in one second and one big rush you’re propelled down at lightning speed, and you’re smiling and laughing through the thrill and excitement.

Then all of a sudden, it’s over.

It’s time to get off and carry on with your day. After the holiday is done, and we are standing in a mess of wrapping and tissue paper, toys and boxes, we come awash in a kind of sadness that The Event is over. Do you? Maybe it’s just me.

I think that perhaps, we get this feeling because we focus so much on the things of the holiday. It’s so easy to treat it like an event or show. At least, that’s what it feels like for me. When I am focussing too much on what to buy for whom, when I’m rushing around the sales and stressing out that I may be going over our budget then the dryer breaks and needs repair (true story), when I worry that the gifts that my husband and I chose for our sons and each other won’t be good enough, and when I feel myself being embarrassed that my house doesn’t look like a Pinterest-worthy winter wonderland, I feel the build up is getting too high and I sense it will come crashing down.

It’s then that I feel a tap on my shoulder. A tap that when I turn around, reminds me that gifts and stuffed, overflowing stockings aren’t what this holiday is about. They’re absolutely fun to give and receive, but it’s not the goal. Feel me?

A couple weeks ago I was perusing Psalm 119 in the Bible. Not a Christmas themed passage by any stretch, but one of my favourites. When I got to these verses, I knew they had be my Christmas mantra; my prayer and my goal:

Give me a bent for your words of wisdom
and not for piling up loot.
Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets, 
invigorate me on the pilgrim way.

Psalm 119:34-35 (MSG)

This verse is taped on the wall in my kitchen, below the clock where I can see it constantly. I have written it over and over so I can memorise it, and it is currently the wallpaper on my phone. I want it to be dark indigo dye, soaked in to the white fabric of my being.

IMG_7987

Divert my eyes, Lord, from the rush and stress, from the surface things, from the selfish things that masquerade as selfless. Open my eyes to these things. Help me to keep my eyes focused on the things that count and the things that will be ever lasting. Help me to see the needs of others, those that struggle during this time that is supposed to be joyful. Help me, Lord, to give and to receive with a heart of thankfulness. 

Question: How do you keep yourself focused on the things that matter during the Christmas season? What are the things that matter to you?

Lest We Forget.

It is Remembrance Day today and I didn’t want the day to go by without adding my voice to honour soldiers and military members, both past and present. I am confident that all of us have someone that has served in the military, and to me that seems incredible. All of us have been touched some way or another by another’s selfless sacrifice.

For my family, we honour Cpl. Richard Pocha. He was my great grandfather, and he served as a Sapper in World War 2. He never talked about his experiences overseas, the day he stormed on the beaches of Normandy. The more images I see of these events, I understand why. I will always remember his love though.

grandfather

I will always remember him as a happy man, always greeting with a smile. But what did he think of when no one was looking? When he went to sleep at night?

Each Remembrance Day, I post this same photo of my great grandfather. Sometimes the thought crosses my mind that it may be getting repetitive – but then I think no. That is what Remembrance Day is for – to remember, to preserve their memory, and to honour their bravery and sacrifice. So I will continue to do this each year, to share his photo. I hope my sons will do this each year too. I hope this photo and his name will be remembered forever.

Lest we forget.

Image from Flickr.

5 Convenient Places My Child has Laid Down (Five on Friday)

I love how kids don’t give a rip what people think.

The fact people might look at them or remotely care what they do does not register in their little toddler brains.

They don’t fear sideways looks from other people, even when we secretly kinda sorta wouldn’t mind if they gave it maybe a second thought; for instance, when you’re at the mall and he decides that the ground in the parking lot is a great place to lay down and lick the asphalt (see #3). I mean, sure, who hasn’t wondered what something that hundreds of people walk on every single day with questionable materials attached to the bottom of their shoes tasted like? Well, this particular toddler knows.

Below are five places my youngest kid has laid down in. I want you to know that these are just five of the places he’s done this – there are many more that have gone undocumented.

1. The dollar store

2. The grocery store

IMG_4396

3. The mall parking lot (steps 1 and 2)

4. The craft store

(He was “playing cars in the basket”, apparently)

5. In the dirt

Sure, this one isn’t a public place, but he does it all. the. time.

Question: Where have your kids just laid down without a care in the world? Did you do this when you were a kid?

Eating in the Humble Pie Bakery

Have you ever been served such a large helping of humble pie, you thought you might have to eat the whole bakery?

Let’s think back to high school for sec. You know, the period of life in which the bulk of your most humbling experiences occur? 

Do you recall the kid that every one made fun of, teased, or just generally was called names because that’s “just what everyone did”? The one that could never do anything right to save his life? I remember that guy. For the sake of privacy and whatnot, we will call him Paul

My heart seriously went out to Paul. He was generally kind and decent, and I did my best to be kind and decent to him in return. But, there were some other people that were pretty horrible to him, calling him the worst names in the book and at times physically pushing him around.

Not long after we graduated, and everyone went their separate ways, I was working at a cafe. At the time, my mom was cleaning houses for a company. One day, she picked me up from work and said she needed some help with this one place, that it wouldn’t take long and she would pay me. As a teenager always in want or need of cash, I of course obliged. 

As we drove and chatted, she mentioned that the lady who’s house we were about to clean said her son went to school with me. Upon asking who it might be, my mom replied, “I think his name is Paul?”

My eyes widened. Paul. “Paul Smith?”

I went kind of quiet. I was going to Paul’s house to dust the shelves his trinkets sat on and to Windex the mirrors he looked in; to wash the floors his feet walked on.

I will never forget entering Paul’s house, removing my shoes like it was holy ground. That day, perhaps it was.

I saw his kitchen table, and the couch in his living room. I saw the place he shared meals with his family and where he watched TV. I saw the photos that lined the hallways; pictures of him hugging his mom and dad, pictures of him laughing with his sister. He had a home filled with love.

I will never forget thinking of the fact that this was his sanctuary from the adversity he walked in every day at school. I wondered if he had felt relief when he entered the doors and threw his back pack down. Was he glad high school was in the past now? If I were him, I probably would be.

After we were done cleaning the house, my mom locked the door and we got back in the car. I closed my eyes, pretending I was tired. I was actually praying, thanking God that I offered a hand or word of kindness to Paul as often as I could. Let’s face it though – there were likely times I hurt him too. I wasn’t, and am not, perfect. 

That day, it was like God had to physically bring me to this house and show me where this person came from. Where he ate, where he slept. Where he brushed his teeth, where he sat down to eat with his family. 

So often we just see a person in one single environment. It’s easy to see people as a stereotype – the geek, the loser, the nerd, the jock, the bad girl, the prude – and treat them as such. But, as they say, even a dead fish can go with the flow. Maybe we need to swim against the current a bit more. Maybe we need to go against how we are expected to treat some people.

Guess what? This is not just the stuff of teenagers – there are people in our world as adults, at our workplaces, in our families, in our coffee shops, in our circles, in our churches, that are in need of a little more compassion and thought. 

So how about it, friends? Let’s all have a piece of that humble pie. Let us show more compassion, more love, more understanding. Open a door, look in their eyes, say hello. Smile. Share. Offer. Invite.

Image from Flickr

Five Things Parents Do that Would be Creepy if Done to Adults (Five on Friday)

Have you ever thought of how hilarious we adults are when it comes to babies and kids? For this week’s Five on Friday, I give you five things parents do to their children that would be creepy if done to adults:

1. Taking a long, deep whiff of baby’s head with their eyes closed

Um, how about no?
Um, how about no?

We all love the smell of a baby’s head. But picture yourself doing that to the person in front of you at Starbucks? “Excuse me sir, but your shampoo is just…delicious. Mmmmm….”

2. Sneaking in to the child’s room at night and whispering ‘I love you’ in their ear, then staring at them while grinning for a bit

giphy (4)
I just love to watch you sleep.

We have all done this. I still do it and probably will continue until my sons move out. Which may or may not be the reason why they would move. However, picture yourself waking up at three in the morning with someone staring at you, a streak of moonlight resting gently across their eyes…

3. Telling the baby, “I just want to eat your face” (see also toes, cheeks)

giphy (2)
Um…okay…?

I dare you to try this to a stranger. Actually I don’t, because you would probably get arrested.

4. Putting their nose up to baby’s bum for the purpose of smelling for poop

This never ends well.
This almost never ends well.

This would make a terrific party game at your next holiday bash! Admittedly, sometimes this needs to be done for the greater good; often when there are a bunch of diaper-clad little humans in a large group. There will always come the time when the Dreaded Aroma makes an appearance and each parent will have to bend down and take a whiff at their baby’s behinds to see if they won this cruel lottery.

5. Rejoicing when they poop on the toilet, then doling out rewards thereafter

giphy (1)

Yay! You did, babe! Your 342,938th poo poo on the potty! Let’s go for ice cream!

Did I miss any? I’m sure there are many more…

Your Story (My Tale of Miscarriage)

Some of you may know (and if you don’t, now you do!) October 15 is Infant & Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Day. For a while I have been wanting to share my own story of pregnancy loss, in hopes that it will speak to someone that has gone through the same or similar situation, and what better time than now?

Before I had a miscarriage, I didn’t think much of it. I had a few friends that had gone through it at various stages, and my heart absolutely ached for them, and yet it still seemed so far off. It was so foreign to me. It felt like I was reading a newspaper article: I read it and sympathized, then when it was all done, life went on. They got over it. Maybe they got pregnant again and started, or continued, building their family. Miscarriage to me was like a speed bump – you slowed down for a second, then kept driving.

Then it happened to me.

Bump Two
Bump two at 7 weeks

It happened to me, to us, and my perspective completely changed. It wasn’t like a speed bump – it was like crashing head-on in to a brick wall. I survived, but emerging from it took a lot of work, support, and help. It didn’t happen in days, a week, or a month. I didn’t “get over” it, but I got through it. I found peace through my friendship with God, and my reliance on him. I clung to the life-giving words in his Book. I bawled. I grieved. For months.

For a long time, I even questioned if I had the right to grieve. I wasn’t that far along in my pregnancy, and the baby didn’t even look like a baby. I wasn’t sure if I could share the same air with my friends that I felt had suffered more, so I hesitated. I brushed off what I felt. I edited my feelings and what I told people when they asked how I was doing. I told them I was “okay”, gave them a half smile and changed the subject. Truthfully, while I felt a strange peace, I also was hurting. So much.

Dear friend, if you are reading this and you feel or have felt the same way, I want to tell you: your grief matters. My grief mattered, and so does yours. There will always be someone that goes through more, loses more, or seems worse off. But loss is still loss, it is a wide spectrum, and we all fall somewhere on it. But we’re all on it.

Bump two at 9 weeks
Bump two at 9 weeks

One day, a while after it happened, I had an urge to write about it. I had not written anything in a long while, perhaps years. But I sat down at our computer, fingers poised on the keyboard, and the words spilled out like I knocked over a glass of milk. After I felt it was done, I felt like the burden was a little less, and the open wound started to scab over.

I had a hard time coming up with a title for it, and I settled on Your Story, as I felt it was my only gift I would ever be able to give that baby.

So, here it is: Your Story.

How should I begin your story? Perhaps in the way you made your way in to our lives: abruptly, with no introduction. On one single day, in the matter of seconds, our lives turned another page and began the next chapter.

On that cold January morning, I sat there with my snowflake-print pyjama pants pooled around my ankles, still half asleep, and waited for this little plastic stick to reveal a mathematic symbol: A ‘plus’ would indicate an addition to our life and my body; a ‘minus’ would mean no change. I carefully placed the stick on the counter and gathered myself, washed my hands, trying so earnestly not to steal a look that would prematurely give me my answer.

I dried my hands. I closed my eyes for a moment, took a breath. Held it. Picked it up. A plus. The addition that would equal the source of the joy, and the change we wanted and longed for.

From that moment, we began to prepare for your arrival. We bought soothers, tiny onesies, and began poring through gigantic baby name books to find a name suitable for you. Dad and I threw around many suggestions, many vetoed by one another. The one name we both liked equally was Charles, and although nothing yet was decided, in my heart you already were our little Charlie. Even in those dawn hours of pregnancy, I felt you were a boy. A spirited, lovable, curious boy that would grow up to be a strong, loving man, full of integrity. I dreamed for your life. 

Weeks wore on and we began to tell those close to us of your presence in our world. Everyone was in love with you already. My belly slowly began to swell and soon enough, I was trying to find creative ways to hide the evidence of you: flowy tops, baggy t-shirts, leggings, and long coats. I felt that, even though no one could tell, I had a sign around my neck that said, PREGNANT! 

Maybe it was the smile I couldn’t wipe off my face.

One day in February it was raining very hard. It was Valentine’s Day. The wipers on our car could barely keep up with the sheets of water dancing around on the windshield. I had an appointment with a doctor to listen to your heartbeat and see how you were going in there, your little home. My heart could hardly contain the excitement of listening to the proof of what we had been expecting.

When I arrived, I laid myself down on the table, butcher paper crinkling beneath my body with each move. The technician put that familiar warm goo on my belly and began to search around on my stomach with the Doppler.

I could hear the sound, like the ocean inside a shell. I waited. I waited a bit more.

I looked at the technician, a furrow in his brow. Then he asked me the most bizarre question that caught me off-guard: Are you sure you’re pregnant?

What? Of course I was sure…how could anyone mistake that? I thought back to January, the plastic stick: the sign of addition. Then later, the nausea. And of course, my little growing belly. Is it possible I imagined it all? Could I have dreamt it?

I turned to I look at the screen that showed the inside of my womb: darkness. Shadows. Empty and hallow, like the shell. The technician saw the obvious confusion in my face and told me not to worry too much. Maybe it was too early to hear anything, or maybe I got my dates wrong. I would need further examination, just to be on the safe side. But his question burdened me.

In the next examination room, I laid down on a second strip of butcher paper, again crinkling beneath my nervous shifting. A new technician bustled her way in. As she continued her exam I propped my head on the back of my arm, eyes focused on the wall beside me.

I counted the chips in the wall and read the flyers hastily taped to it. I listened to the quiet hum of the lights and machines. I tried to be somewhere else.

Still, the sound of a vast, wide, lonely ocean in this tiny little shell filled the sterile room. I felt stranded on that ocean, my raft dismantling beneath me.

After hinting at what the previous technician had suspected, that you were gone, she asked me if I wanted to see what was on the screen. I think she expected me to say no, to decline the chance of further heartache. But I had to see you. You were worth the risk of it all.

She turned the screen to face me, and there you were: A tiny little circle, attached to my womb. Clinging to me.

The days that followed were full of silent waiting, and quiet pain. Waiting, because I didn’t know what was next, and there is always pain in waiting. We tried to carry on with our day to day tasks: caring for your brother, making dinner, going grocery shopping. All the while, there was the Cloud of Unknown hovering above me, following my every single move.

Then one day, it was time.

We came home from church and a dull ache began in my belly. Later that day, in the twilight of the evening and when the people of the world were preparing to sit down to dinner and share in a meal, you left me. The pain in my body and the pain in my heart were that of the same, but I was never angry. Not at you, not at God, or even myself. I don’t even know if it was or wasn’t meant to be…it just was. And you just were. And to me, you still are and forever will be.

After a little while, when I was able to think of you and not cry an ocean, I looked up the meaning of the name we chose for you: Charles. It means full grown, a man. I had to catch my breath when I read that. That’s when I knew: you had a name. You would forever be Charlie to me. Even though in this life you only grew to be the form of a beautiful unending little circle, in my mind and in my heart you are my full grown little man.       

pregnancy-infant-loss-remembrance-day

Question: Have you experienced a miscarriage? What helped you get through it?

Images from Flickr, me, babbcenter.org