The Pain of Forward Motion: When Memories Fade
By: Ann-Marie Ferry
Sitting cross legged on the warm summer ground I comb my fingers through the damp grass. Every so often I grasp at it as if I am grasping for growing hair. A short time has passed since Kuyper’s burial, yet the patch of earth over his grave has grown in thick, making it appear as through the soil had never been disturbed at all. Taking a finger, I try to trace the outline of where we laid him that day in May. It is faint but I can still follow it. Looking down I imagine that the roots of clover, grass, and weeds that I see before me are growing up directly from his body, a living extension of my baby boy. The micro world of dirt, bacteria, plants, and insects between us, a reminder of life and hope even in the darkest of places.
The feeling of nearness to Kuyper is beginning to fade. It is as if my baby (now in the ground) is on the bank of a river and I (the living) remain on the boat without an oar, being pulled further and further away by the current. The current ever rushing away from him. The more time passes between Kuyper’s pregnancy and the present moment, the less I feel a closeness to him. The pain of this forward motion feels too much. What if I am not ready for it?
Soaking up all I can of this moment, I close my eyes as the wind lightly touches my face. Being close to his body, in this quiet and beautiful place fills my mind with sweet memories, and I feel a nearness to him, if only for a moment. Speaking soft and low, I whisper, “I love you, baby boy”.
Pausing I then wonder, “What will life be like when he no longer feels close?” I know this fading feeling is normal, but it feels unnatural. I guess in some sense it is because none of this is truly natural. Parents are not meant to bury their children. It is supposed to be the other way around.
Letting go of one’s baby, little by little could never feel normal and yet it is an excruciating necessity to keep on living. We must go where the current takes us.
A thought, like a lightning bolt runs through my mind, “Will I be able to bear the weight of this grief without the gentleness of this nearness?” I wonder what it is like to be a bereaved mother with this time behind me and a new sense of normalcy in my daily life. Is it something I even want? I just want to stay in these treasured moments, however painful. All I want is to be near my baby. How unfair it is to float ever further from the shore.
Years later I think back on those summer days. The transitions were many, coming at me faster than I felt able to handle. I did survive. With time and support I found a new path to normal and eventually a new way to flourish. The strong sense of nearness that I felt in those early days I no longer feel and although it was hard to let go of that feeling, it also seemed an important part of the healing process. Now the remembrances of those moments spent by his grave in the early days of bereavement are but a sweet and mysterious memory. Each moment and change along the way a part of the story I had no choice but to write.
Mama, you are writing your own story each day. The chronicles of how you loved and lost, and how you carried on. Keep on writing that story. The tale of love is a beautiful one to tell.
About Ann-Marie Ferry
Ann-Marie is a nurse based in the Midwest. Her and her husband have been married for close to a decade. She has three spunky girls and one sweet little boy in heaven. After nine months of hyperemesis, hemorrhage, and pre-term labor, her first pregnancy resulted in a full-term baby girl. Kuyper, her second child, was stillborn during his second trimester in 2013. Her third pregnancy concluded six weeks early resulting in a NICU stay. Although, still complicated and high risk, she would describe her fourth and final pregnancy as a redeeming experience.
Ann-Marie can be found blogging at annmarieferry.com and on Instagram @ann_marieferry.
Ann-Marie, this may be my favorite piece of yours thus far. You distill such weighty truths in such a succinct and relatable manner. The notion of moving on and how you want the tender memories but you don’t want the pain is a paradox that we have all encountered. Thank you for this lovely piece.
Thank you. Your words are an encouragement to me. I am so glad this piece was an encouragement to you. ❤