By: Sophie Stachula
Sophie was recently asked to write using this prompt: discuss an event or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. The following is Sophie’s response.
I remember thinking that once you became an adult, you didn’t cry anymore. I thought only kids cried, when they fell and scraped their knee, or didn’t get their way. Of course, I came to realize that it wasn’t that adults don’t cry; it’s that when they are parents, they stay brave for their kids. I had seen my mom cry over sappy movies, and my dad cry from laughing. But once I had seen them both weep from grief after the death of their child, something changed within me.
I was in second grade when my mom started working at Share Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support. She was always transparent with my brother and I about what she did at her job. She told us that there were mommies and daddies who needed help because they had lost a baby, and that she was there to help them. She explained to us what miscarriage and stillbirth were in a way that we could understand. I listened to every word she said, always eager to learn more. That first year she worked there, I got to volunteer at the annual Walk for Remembrance and Hope. I remember feeling important because my job was to hand out balloons to all the families that attended. I thought it was so cool how they got to write messages to their babies on the balloons, and then watch them float away in the sky. I loved seeing the sky full of balloons; it was like magic. I looked forward to the walk every year.
I had never imagined that I would have a baby sister, and neither did my mom. I was 13 when my mom announced she was pregnant, and she was 40. I was so excited when she told me the news, but my excitement quickly turned to fear. I knew my mom was old to be having a baby. I remembered the statistic that I heard all the time at her job: 1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss. My mom chose to have hope, even though she knew better than anyone the risk. She was open with me about her worries, but also her joy and anticipation. My mom taught me the importance of sharing how you feel even if it’s hard. I knew how much it helped her to be able to talk about how she felt. She bought my brother and I pink cookies at the gender reveal party and gave my sister a name. Her name was Caroline Claire Stachula, and even though she never lived outside of my mom, we loved her completely.
I had been told what it feels like to lose a baby, but never before did I know the utter pain and heartbreak until I watched my parents cry. Their tears showed so much love, so much heartache, things I was unfamiliar with; I was taken aback. I wanted more than anything to make their pain go away. I wanted to heal the hearts of all the moms, dads, brothers, sisters, grandmas, and grandpas of all the lost babies in the world. It took some time, but my family was able to heal through acts of healing and the compassion of others. Through support and love, remembering together and as a part of the Share community, we found our feet as a family again. Sometimes parents can’t be brave, and someone has to be there for them. Sometimes people need help getting through a tough time. I am now much more mindful of the thoughts and feelings of those around me, and I never hesitate to offer kind words or thoughtful advice where I see a need. That was what helped us. The next time I went to the walk, I didn’t volunteer, but attended as a bereaved sister. I noticed the heartbreak and healing of the attending families for the first time. Watching them release the balloons into the sky was no longer fun, it was touching and tender– magic in a different way.
About Sophie Stachula
Sophie has grown up in and around the Share office, but came to know Share’s mission intimately after the loss of her little sister, Caroline, in 2017. Sophie is an accomplished photographer, singer, writer, and student, and has generously shared her gifts with Share as a volunteer at countless Share functions. She is a great listener and her friends value her for her observant and kind friendship and support. Sophie has a compassionate heart that lends towards caring, and is looking to study psychology and counseling when she heads to college next fall.