By: Nora LaFata
My daughter died on February 22, 2014. She was born the next day. My fingers still balk at the sequence of those two sentences.
My daughter, who weighed five pounds and three ounces. My daughter, who had a head of dark hair and bright, pursed lips and skinny toes. My daughter, the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. My daughter, who was gone.
Initially I didn’t feel much. Or was it that I felt so much that I couldn’t feel anymore? A limit to some human emotional threshold, that one should never surpass? I remember holding her, sharing her with family. I remember horrific silence and guttural sobs and numbness, and I remember feeling alone.
In the initial days without my daughter, in hospital beds and elevators and car rides; in classrooms and at dinner tables and on walks to the park, I was surrounded by the most loving, open, compassionate arms, and I was always alone in the room.
When your baby dies, the internet can be an especially cruel place. What was once a pleasant scroll with your morning coffee is now a minefield; random assortments of beaming faces and highlight reels. Time hop and “bumpdates” and double strollers. Every click can lift or level you and in the beginning, each is equally as likely. In the initial days of my grief these were risks I was simply unable or unwilling to take, and rightfully so. Every happy face reminded me of all I’d lost; all of the permanent despair taking root behind mine.
But I have learned that for the bereaved parent, there is more to be found online. There is pain, absolutely- the catastrophic, life-altering kind. There is sadness and despair and a rightful bitterness. There are those who turn away from our longing and the love we continue to share for our children. But for every meaningless platitude and shallow shift in conversation; for every unfollow and “I can’t imagine,” there is also something else:
A hand. A story. A name. There is understanding and validation and connection. There is hope.
One month into my new abnormal, I made my way to the keyboard. My hands shook as the words appeared below them for the first time. “My daughter died,” they told the screen.
In stark contrast to the silence of our study, there was an immediate, collective voice. There were sites and links and names, so many names. I managed a desperate, barely coherent message to a group of strangers, and I received a series of compassionate responses. It was three in the morning. It was cold and dark and I was unraveling, but I wasn’t alone in the room.
“Me too,” they said to me.
And I thought for the first time, just for a second, perhaps I’d make it after all.
About Nora Lafata
Nora is a Biology teacher from St. Louis, Missouri. She has four children, one of whom (Josephine) passed away in 2014 at 35 weeks. Nora writes about life after losing her athttps://noralafata.blogspot.com/