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Maine. Vacationland. The way life should be. At least, that’s the slogan from the tourist board. And as I sit in the sand watching my crazy kids run in and out of the waves, their lips blue from the frigid Atlantic, it sure feels that way. The sun on my face. A book in my hand. This is definitely the way life should be.

Kids jumping in waves

The kids jumping in the waves.

At that moment a family sets up their towels and beach umbrella on the sand next to me. They are well equipped for a day at the beach, and immediately the kids start running to the water to catch the waves and join mine. 4 kids. Including one set of identical twins. And even though I was feeling happy and content with my life just a couple minutes ago, I’m suddenly reminded this isn’t the way life should be. My life should have two more kids in it. Identical twins. Days away from their 10th birthday.

I close my eyes, breathe in deeply, and let the feeling pass over me like the waves on the sand. This is not the way life should be. My sons should be here. Their lips should be blue from swimming in the Atlantic, not from hypoxia. Breathe in deeply again. Feel the sting of the breeze on my face, instead of the warmth of the sun. My sons should be here. Holding their little brother’s hand as he takes those timid first steps into the water. Helping their sister build a sand castle. Breathe in one more time.

Grief is Like a Wave

Many people have described grief as like a wave. In those first moments, the waves are strong. The tide is coming in and you have to fight just to stay standing. It is cold and lonely and hard to believe it will ever end. The sound of the waves is deafening, drowning out all other noise. But the waves also recede. The seas are calm again. Whether the tide is low or high, the waves powerful or weak, they don’t go away. Grief will always be with you, as the waves are with the ocean. And no matter how permanent the rocks may seem, over time, the waves change the landscape. Grief shapes you, changes you, and molds you to your form.

Pemaquid Point Light

Pemaquid Point Light

Just as quickly the feeling passes. The children are fighting because one stepped on the other’s foot. On purpose, Mom! The wind has picked up and the beach umbrella is starting to come out of its mooring. This is real life and not the perfect life I imagined. The jumble of emotions I feel about my family is complex and constantly changing. If my sons had lived, would I have even have had my son and daughter, or would I have stopped at two? I’m not sure. But I can’t consider that right now. The wave has passed. Who knows when the next one will come? I am here in this moment, with the sun on my face and the sound of the waves crashing on the beach in my ear. Summer is quickly fading into fall. The way life should be.

My book Joy at the End of the Rainbow: A Guide to Pregnancy After a Loss is available now through Amazon or your favorite book retailer. If you’re in Ireland, I’ll be at the International Stillbirth Alliance conference. Come by and say hi!


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