Sunday, September 10, 2023

You Were Bigger Than the Whole Sky

It’s your 11th birthday, Luke. I pulled up all 40ish pictures I have of your body’s entire existence here on earth like I always do on your birthday, and I had the good cry that still brings me comfort about you. 

They prove you were here. Not for long—Not long enough at all and not like I expected you to be. But sometimes I feel like I need to prove, even to myself, that you were here. 

Our perfect baby boy, who never breathed a breath…I still don’t know how the worst thing happened to us. I still don’t know how I survived and you didn’t. I know I never will, and I know I can never reconcile the life I thought I was going to live for the nine months we had together, and the life I currently live. 

Lena loves talking about how “if Luke had survived,” they would do so-and-so. It hurts me too much to even say to her that the reality is there would never have been a him-and-her, here. It’s the truth that we live with every day…that this current version of life…would be completely different had you lived. I wonder if I’d recognize anything? Not just who would you have been…Who would I be if you were still here? 

My days feel so much like any normal parent’s days do. But everytime I share you…our story…with someone new, the feelings always bubble to the surface that I’ll always be different. Our parenting journey started so incredibly backward. It was so much trauma. And sometimes I worry that I take all that I still have for granted. I’m not normal. I survived any mother’s worst nightmare…and I have two amazing girls who came from all of that trauma. 

To have been so close to having you…and have it all gone in an instant, I still don’t know how I survived that heartbreak. But I have to think you helped pull me through it somehow, from wherever you are, in whatever form you’re in. 

Eleven years is a lot of life to live without. 
A lot of years to pine about. 

You were more than just a short time. And today, I miss you like I always do. Like I always will. 

The words all start to feel the same, 11 years out. But that’s because the love is the same too. 

Happy 11th birthday, my sweet Luke. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

But you're still around

It's rare that I come back here at times other than birthdays or anniversaries anymore--and sometimes that makes me sad. I guess that's part of living this life 10 years out...when things have shifted so far from where I was ten years ago. 

But today I had to come back and document what happened Sunday. 

I was sitting here in the kitchen. It was relatively quiet in our house. And out of nowhere, I hear noise coming from the Google Home speaker in our bedroom. I couldn't quite make out what it was, but assumed it was Jeff doing something in there. 

He came out and said, "did you do that?" 

I was like, huh? In the bedroom? No. Why?

Google Home started blaring Somewhere Over the Rainbow. By itself. The kids weren't even in there. Out of nowhere, the song that we played at Luke's funeral came blasting out of our Google Home speaker without anyone telling it to. No voice commands were said.

I've had my beefs with these stupid speakers and how stupid they are (read: they never do what I ask them to do. Ever.). But today...

It's signs like that that I still live for, Luke. 

I've been listening to too much Taylor Swift lately, and there's a part in her song Marjorie that basically kills me every time I listen to it...

...and if I didn't know better
I'd think you were still around

I know better
But I still feel you, all around

I know better
But you're still around

I see you, Luke. <3 

Sunday, September 11, 2022

You made it.

Hi Luke (and Finn, too). Thanks for showing up this weekend. It hasn’t rained here in months…and we definitely haven’t had any rainbows. 

But there you are. I see you. 😍 I love that you’re together.

Friday, September 9, 2022

A decade--And your Golden Birthday

3,653 days. It's been 3,653 days since I last saw your face in person, Luke. 

It's weird--When I was looking up that calculation, I thought it might be more. It feels like more. When I really sit and think about everything that has happened in our lives since that day, it feels like a LOT. Your funeral. The hours and days and weeks and months that dragged on after you died--when we didn't have a clue what the future would hold for us. Helena died not long after you. Then we were pregnant again. Lena arrived. We sold the condo. Moved to another. Bought our house, Lainey came along. First days of school happened. A pandemic. So many more people have come and gone. 

Time seemed to pass so slowly at first--the grief, always waiting there, foaming to the top of everything. 

At first, I had no idea how I would get through my life without you. How this gaping hole in my heart and soul would ever change or feel different. In those first years of birthdays, I put so much pressure on myself--To make sure you were celebrated--That we had a special cake or balloons or went somewhere special. 

I think now, the grief is settled. I know I don't need to do anything specifically to prove that I still love you, or that you were real. Not a single day goes by that I don't think of you or speak of you. You're never far from my consciousness, and while there are definitely times where I see a sign of you, I think the thing that I've come to accept the most, ten years out, is that you're everywhere with me. I literally carry you in my heart. And I hope somehow you feel that.

2 Siblings
I guess that's how we carry the losses that mean the most to us over time. I remember someone I spoke with in the first months after you died...told me that his mom and dad had a baby before him--Just like you. And how he grew up his entire life, knowing he had a brother--before him, who he never met. His mom spoke of him, and my friend always felt him there, somehow. I think about that so much more often now, with the girls. Lena is much more in touch with her thoughts about your existence than Lainey is. I can tell that she feels a connection--maybe it's her wish for a brother. But she always includes you. You're her other sibling who she never knew, but wishes so much that she did. 

This year, I don't think I'm as sad. I mean, I'm always sad about you and about how we lost you. The sadness is just...maybe not as acute. It used to feel that I had to take your birthday and just...get through. Do something alone--and then find the thing I needed to do to celebrate you. But for the first time, I don't think the debilitating sadness has set in. Tomorrow, we'll go to the baby jacaranda tree we had planted at our local park, have some cake, and the kids will inevitably be crazy. 

And I'll think about how at this time, ten years ago, hardly any of this existed. Life has moved forward, so far in time, without you. And yet your mark is on everything. So much of my Now is imprinted with everything that happened because of you, and for that, I'm forever grateful. You made me a mom. Your face is forever etched into my mind. And even though I don't have nearly as many words to say about you as I did ten years ago, I still feel that longing for you. Who you would have turned out to be. I wish we had a chance to make memories together, on the outside. 

For now, I'll take the relief that I feel being ten years away from the Hardest Thing--leaving you there in the hospital, seeing your face for the last time. 

I hope I get a sign from you, tomorrow, sweet boy. I'll be looking for it.

Friday, September 10, 2021

The unnatural order of things

Last week, we were at my parents' house as we usually are on Thursday nights. We were talking about boring adult things in the living room, and it was getting late. Lainey came in, crawled up behind me sitting on the couch, and fell asleep. 

She was almost completely upside down--Her head sank slowly as she fell deeper into sleep, and she started wedging herself between my back and the couch cushion, so I moved over to let her breathe. 

And I looked at her face. Jeff did too. And we both saw Luke.

I don't think there's anything that really ever prepares you for that moment when, as a parent of a dead baby, you see your dead baby in your very-much-alive child. But that's how siblings go, right? There's been so many times in my life I've been confused for my sister. And it's normally a SUPER annoying thing as a young kid, but then it turns into sort of an endearing thing as you realize your siblings are kind of your best friends as you trudge through life together. 

But this? When the face you're actually seeing is an alive 5-year-old, and the one you accidentally see is a dead newborn who you said goodbye to almost 4 years before the 5-year-old was born? It's that typical mindfuck that comes with being in this shitty club. Most parents see their kids grow--their features change and develop over time--but they usually stay similar, even as you age. How do you ever reconcile seeing your dead newborn's smooshed cheeks and lips in your Kindergartener?

I guess this is the sort of shitty math and reconciling you find yourself still noticing, 9 years after your first child is born still. 

Something that's really...struck me...this past year and a half of living through a pandemic is that most people don't understand the gravity of surviving the unnatural order of real, life-altering loss. Being the person left here, still alive, left to keep moving forward is usually soul-crushing. Guilt inducing. Isolating.  

Yes. All of these things get less heavy over time. But then again, I'm still over here seeing my dead baby's face in the places I least expect it. Trauma does that to you. And I guess in some ways, I feel lucky--To have seen his face and remembered it so well at all, nine years after the last time I saw it for the first and last time. 

Recognizing the unnatural order...of having to say goodbye to your own child while you still have tons of life to live? It's a difficult future to face and build around. 


Nine years later, what I know, is that if there was anything I could have done? To avoid all of this heartache? To have maybe changed what happened to Luke? I would have done it. No matter how far of a fetch it was. No matter how crazy I thought doctors were. Because it would have maybe meant saving me, us, from the lifetime of mindfucking grief that comes with the death of your own child. 

So I guess lately, I'm not understanding how there are people in this world that wouldn't do anything they could to stay keep their loved ones safe, to see the ones they love grow up or get old. If I'd had some sort of vaccine to take that would have saved Luke, or at the very least have given us better chances? I would've done it. It's literally crazy-making watching people decide they'll just take their chances with a completely unknown disease. 

You know what other thing had incredibly low odds? Stillbirth. Your baby dying full-term. It's like, 0.1% odds, I think? I learned that somebody is always that 0.1%. It was us. 

Maybe for some, taking that chance only comes around out of desperation, or when it's too late. I don't know. But I know that witnessing so much grief swirling around in the world right now hurts. And I think it might strike me a little bit deeper because I've understood grief and odds like 0.1% at a visceral level for nine years. 

If you're lucky, you can brush off devastating things that happen to other people because they don't happen to you. That's luck. But the thing is, you don't get to call your luck. No one asks for shitty things to happen to them. They just do. 

I can promise that when they do happen for you, you'd most likely do anything to change your circumstances. Bargaining--I think that's called the Bargaining stage of grief (even though those stages of grief are bullshit because they usually all just happen concurrently or in weird orders). It's real. And I've seen so many stories lately about people who are/were full of regret. 

I can't say that I have tons of regret about Luke...Because what happened to him was such a freak accident. I wish I'd gone in sooner. Maybe that would've given us a chance. I don't know.

But...I guess all that to say, we all think we're invincible. Until we're not. And we're desperate to change the outcome. 

I wish I had a chance to change our outcome, Luke. 

I can't believe it's been 9 years since I've seen your face and yet I can remember what it looks like like it was yesterday.

I hope you and Finn are celebrating together in the stars, tonight. 

Thursday, September 10, 2020


Eight years. How have we already been separated by eight YEARS?

2012 seems like a lifetime ago, when I sit down and think about it. It was the last year I went to Coachella. The last full year we lived in our condo. We've moved twice since then. And of course we've had two girls, and now they're in first grade and preppy-k. The school years have begun for them. Eight years ago, Jeff and I had just begun our journey into parenthood--With no idea what was in store for us. 

Lately, I've been feeling that I live my life with a neverending sense of heartache, just below the surface. And I'm not sure if the current events of the world would feel as heavy if we'd never lost you, Luke. Maybe I'd still have that sense of invincibility I had when I was just 33 and had never had kids before. Things were simple then. 

Everything feels heavy now. The world seems like it's swirling everyone around in an intense washing machine filled with nothing but heartache. When COVID-19 first hit California back in March, when our world first shut down, I felt that impending sense of doom hard. I think that once death comes for you on a deeply personal level like it did with us, you're reprogrammed to understand and acknowledge that fear fully and without question. 

I carried death, and I witnessed and held my own child, dead. 

So I do have a healthy respect for death. It's not something that just happens to other people for me--It's mine. It's caused me and Jeff permanent heartache. So while I've spent the last eight years carrying it with me, learning how to operate my life differently and find joy and happiness where I can, I still feel it close, always.

For those first few months of shutdown, I felt that doom hard. I felt like every step I took outside of my home and people might be the straw that breaks the camel's back. I knew I had to respect what this disease does to people with diabetes or blood pressure issues, since they're problems we live with at home. 

And so I've felt a super-acute heartache since this all started, and I guess it hasn't really stopped. Seeing people devalue actual human lives lately has crushed a lot of my own spirit. This year, on your birthday, Luke, I feel numb. My heart hurts. And maybe it's just because there's so much loss happening for so many people right now--I don't really know. But I know that when I see others hurting, I tend to absorb it. It's sort of what I do. It's not great for me, personally, but I guess it's my way of helping others find the light out of this heartache. I've done it. I've somehow survived eight years without my firstborn son. A lot of times I feel like I'm built for this. I can endure and I can officially take steps to keep going because I've done it before. 

And's still hard. Even when you're a pro, even when you know how it goes. Even when you're accustomed to death being at your door or inside your house--It doesn't get easy. Maybe the expectations do. But when I sit down and take a deep hard look at our pictures from our day in the hospital with you, Luke, my heart still hurts. It always will. And I can keep going and endure that heartache and be a mom to these beautiful, crazy girls (even if I have no idea what I'm doing on a near-hourly basis) but still miss you like crazy. 

The heartache of missing out on what you would have been will always exist in that hole you left in my own heart. That's the reason this never ends. Love lost is heartache. And some love is deeper than others. 

I'll always wonder who you would have been and  I'll always have cookies or cake or something to celebrate our brutiful life. Just wish you could ever have been here to celebrate it with us. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Fall skies and invisibility

Its hard for me to comprehend that I’ve been writing here in this space for 7 years now.

Seven years seems like such a long time. Closer to a decade than just a year. So much life happens in seven years.

And yet here we are. It’s September. I feel it in my bones, as I always do. When I’m driving, I notice the skies changing more than anywhere else. And seeing the change in sunlight always brings that sense of longing back around. It’s easier to not think about during the spring and earlier summer. But it’s so pronounced for me during the last weeks of August and first weeks of September.

Most days now, I’m a normal mom. But seven years later, my rainbows are growing up. They’re not babies anymore. Seeing them growing and moving forward in life is one of my greatest joys.

And yet the hardest truth now is that you’re always missing, Luke. I think that’s the part that hurts the most. Your invisibility.

I have so much to show for Lena and Lainey. Probably too much? Lena is constantly writing me notes on scraps of paper and shoving them in my purse or pockets. Lainey makes the hugest messes. They both have friends—school friends even. And I think the part that’s the hardest about walking these new steps as a parent is knowing that most people who know us as a family don’t know our story. Some might hear Lena talk about her brother and get confused. I mean...she’s confused too. The other day, out of nowhere, she asked me how old Luke was when he died. I’m not one to dance around the truth, because I know my kids are capable of understanding hard things. But it’s still hard to explain the hard details to her.

I told her he died right before he was born. “So he didn’t get to live?” she asked.
“No.” I said.
“But why did he die? Was something wrong with him?”
“No,” I said. “It was just a freak accident. Like how sometimes bad things happen to people when they don’t expect it. Like that.”

Lena’s accepting of my answers for now, but I know she doesn’t understand everything yet. She’s never had to see a mama be very very pregnant and not get to bring a baby home with her own eyes. I’m thankful for that. Because I want her to be naive for a little while longer. But she’ll understand someday.

But that intangibility is what gets me the most these days. I relate more and more to the title of Elizabeth McCracken’s book An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination more and more every day. Because that’s what Lena and Lainey are to me. They’re replicas. Of Luke, who never had a chance to live and breathe—who was so so close...and yet. Not. He never cried or crawled or took a step. I carried him for 39 weeks, and all he knew in life was me.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe he wasn’t a figment of my imagination when I have so little to show of his life.

He’s my first baby. Nothing can ever change that. But it’s still heartbreaking knowing that every new person I’ve met since he died never knew him. and never can. There isn’t anything new to add to his story. And there will never be.

The heaviness of all that still weighs on me. That’s the part of all this that I’m quite sure never disappears. Parenting is hard enough. But carrying the weight of his invisibility...his intangibility...along with everything else? That’s the load that’s hardest, seven years later. And I think the expectations some people have...of "getting over" this. Or moving on...are absurd. Because that's the thing. Once you've survived something traumatic--giving birth to death, losing someone in an unexpected way...You're forever changed. It's not something you can "get over." You change. You keep living your life. You build on what you have left. Because that's all you can do. There's no other option. And make no mistake--My girls are the world to me. They mean just as much as Luke does. All three are ours, and always will be. Just like any parent loves ALL of their children. Just because one doesn't exist on this earth any longer, you don't just give up on loving them. Love never dies.

I want it to be known that he’s our first baby. We’re a family of five. You just can’t see one of us. We have mementos for him, and boxes of team t-shirts for Walk to Remember and leftover funeral programs with his tiny stats in them.

I just wish all of that was easier for the world to see and not forget...or even ever know. I can see how this gets more and more inevitable through the years...and of course time makes it easier. But it’s never easy. It’ll never be ok, and I guess that’s just ok at this point.

Life is brutiful. Brutal and beautiful. And seven years on, that's the way it is.

Sunday, September 9, 2018


Six years seems like...a LOT.

A lot of years. Past one. Past three. Past FIVE.

So much time, that when I came back to this place--The blog that I write to you at? The background widget I used was gone. I found it on some free website back in 2012. And six years later, the host had taken down their page--it just disappeared.

Just like your heartbeat did six years ago.

I feel like I’ve said all the words that have ever been said about loss and life and grief here. And yet I still keep coming back. I think that’s the thing that I hope people understand. That somehow, through years and life and sadness and happiness, you will still always be mine, Luke. But there will never be “getting over” this. It will never be fixed. When trauma strikes you, you’re changed. There is no going back. So what was left of me—of us—from that day six years ago? I like to think that I’ve come a long way. We’ve built a family—one that will always include you. You were first, and without you, there is no Us.

Our family is made of five of us. You were the first.

It’s grief season for me. I can feel the start of September in my bones now. I wonder if it would be so pronounced if you’d have been born in the neverending heat of summer? The change in seasons signals the change I went through—The season that came when everything I thought I had had fallen apart. The marked end of summer marks the end of our time together—every year—and when the sun starts turning a golden yellow and the leaves start falling from the trees, I revisit the first hours and days and weeks and months I spent without you. Everything feels more settled now. Maybe more numb. These feelings come yearly and I know what they feel like. The pain is less blunt now. I know it will always be there—the hole you left in my heart. No one should have to make birthday cakes for their dead children. You never think you’ll be that person until suddenly, you are.

On this day six years ago, I knew it was the beginning of a new season of my life— with our first baby. The season that changes everything. And now, six years later, I feel like I’m on the start of the next season. The baby things are gone now—the girls are kids. The baby stage is over, along with the pregnancies and births. And I’m relieved. I know there are endless possibilities of more heartache to be had in life—but to have survived this much so’s a relief.

I still look for signs that you're still with us, somehow. Tonight, we got one. We took the girls to dinner, and as we climbed back in the car, the radio turned on. It was on Pearl Jam radio (it's not necessarily locked there in my car like it is in Daddy's car...) and Light Years was playing. The song we printed in your funeral program The song that...says everything we feel. It's not a song that gets that much play., especially when it comes to their live shows that get played. But there it was. There you were.

I still wish I didn't have to look for instances of your presence...I still wish you were here--that you made it. I don't think that's ever going to be different. But I can see the beauty you brought us in life. Without you, there would be no Lena or Lainey. I would never have connected with so many of my favorite mamas in the world. Women I wish I never met and yet am so glad I know now. What a strange situation to find friendship in...

Anyway. I'm sharing a pic of the three of us from the day we finally saw your face, six year ago. We don't have many pictures of you that don't scream "death", but this is one of you and me and Daddy that shows exactly what it felt like, meeting you. A satisfaction that labor was finally over and we did it. And a sadness...a thick veil...on both of our faces. A resignation that this was real. You can see both of us wishing that this wasn't the end. I think I still make this face when I think of you. These were the first minutes of our life without you. Six years later, I can still take myself back to this scene and the tears still fall.

I'm so proud to be your mama, Luke. But I'm still so sad that I'll always have tears left to cry for you.

Thursday, August 30, 2018


These girls.

This week we hads two big first days in our house. Lena’s first day at her elementary school in preppy-k, and Lainey’s first day at preschool.

I’m not one of those parents you’ll see crying as I push my kids into their classroom, bemoaning their loss of little-ness. There is nothing I want to see more than for them to grow. Grow up, girls. Become who you were meant to be. See the world for yourself and learn and laugh and love.

I will always be here. Waiting to hear about it. Watching you misstep and succeed and everything in-between. I’m your biggest supporter and I hope you always know that.

And I hope that you always know that as much as I miss your brother and all the life he never got to live, I will never expect you to fill that hole in our lives. You are who you are. Your futures are yours and yours alone. You were never meant to fill his shoes, and your lives are yours.

I will never feel sad watching you grow up. Not for one minute. I’m sure I’ll miss your baby-mess sometimes. I already miss Lena calling strawberries “strawbabies.” I know I’ll miss Lainey telling Lena “You know better, Weena!” whenever Lena does something mean to her. But every minute spent here on this earth with both of you is a minute that I didn't get to spend with Luke. As life keeps going, and we keep getting further and further away from our last day spent together, I realize that the time I have with you both is precious. This life is ours to live and love, together.

Today would have been Luke's first day of Kindergarten. Another milestone that he never reached that still hurts my heart. These milestones with the girls...they mean so much to me. When you know what it means to have these taken away, those visions of how life was supposed to be, there's something about finally reaching them. Their big-ness takes on...more big-ness. More depth and more meaning.

I think sometimes I try to harden myself to these types of things...but the depth of missing Luke is something that comes with any potential milestone. It won’t ever be different because babies are supposed to hit milestones for their parents. Baby milestones. Toddler milestones. School milestones and adult milestones.

Now?  Always. Missing. No more milestones.

I’m not sure most people realize the gravity of that sort of finality that exists when parents lose a child.

So the sweetness of these milestones? They might be sweeter for me. I fought so hard to still get to have them. They’re bittersweet sometimes, but sweet for sure.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Hard Pills to Swallow

Almost five years have passed. FIVE. Half a decade.

It's been half a decade since I last held you, Luke. Since we last saw your face.

I've been thinking a lot about things that I've gotten the hang of over the past five years. Grief is a constant adjustment. It's always changing and life gets both more complicated and yet more simplified. I know the ropes. I know how it feels to see someone join this community of parents who've lost a baby. I know what to offer them. I have rote responses now for the questions that get asked to every parent everywhere.

"How many kids do you have?" they ask.
"Three," I say.
"Oh, how old are they?"
"My youngest is 18 months, my oldest is almost four, but I also had a son, who was stillborn."

And that usually kills a conversation. Sometimes it doesn't and I make a fast friend. I know I can say the words without crying (at least most of the time) and it makes me proud to be able to mention all of my kids in one statement. I've gotten past the point of caring how it makes the other person feel to talk about death, because my reality will always contain my dead firstborn. It's not something that I get to walk away from, or ever be OK with. He will always be gone. I will never have more memories of him to share with people. You were born, and you were not alive, but you still count as my child.

So I've learned how to swallow most of those pills. Over the past 5 years, I've figured out how to present myself and my circumstances to people. I also know that I can't put you away, Luke. You matter too much to me to tuck away into our past. I need people to know that you existed. That you were wanted and that living without you will always hurt. That a piece of my heart will always be missing. Sharing you, while hard, is my job as your mama. I don't have pictures or stories or baby books filled with your milestones, Luke, but I say your name. That pill is less hard to swallow now, five years out.

But some things still hurt. 

Babies are still named Luke. There will always be some that are the age he should be and I'll meet them over my lifetime. 

Babies are still being born on Luke's birthday.

Snooki has her friggin kid, and he's still alive.

Those are still hard pills to swallow. If there's one thing I understand now, 5 years out, it's that I might be bitter about some things forever. I didn't just lose you as a baby. I lost you being a 5 year old on your first day of school. I lost a little boy who might've played little league or loved karate. I lost a teenager who thinks his mom is the most annoying person in the world. And I lost a grown man who I'd hopefully get to see grow up and be a wonderful person.

I never got to see you grow, Luke. I never even got to see your chest rise and fall with air in your lungs. It was all just taken away.

All of that, but on the flip side, you were the first of the grandchildren born to my family. And now, there are 7 more. That's how much has happened in 5 years. And right now, it's hard to think about how empty our lives were when we lost you. But it's still hard to think about the fact that if you weren't gone, Lena and Lainey wouldn't be here. Our lives have diverged down so many different paths because of what happened to you. And it's brutal and beautiful at the same time.

The sun is lower in the sky--Literally as of this week. For me, it signals your birthday. Five years, sweet boy. At this time 5 years ago, I was in labor and we just wanted to meet you...even if you were already gone.

A death date before a birth date. That's still the hardest pill to swallow.