Motherhood, Miscarriage, and My Ancestors

Motherhood, Miscarriage, and My Ancestors March 4, 2019

A Prayer for Lost Children
What is remembered, lives.

Tiny body that lived in mine,
I will always remember you.
I will remember your brief life.
I will remember your death.
I will remember the life you might have lived.
What is remembered, lives.

I am a mother. I have five wonderful children who share my home, all of them clever and kind and beautiful and everything a mother could want for her children. I am a mother. I have conceived three children who did not survive to make it into this world. Two children I miscarried late in the first trimester, and one early in the second. When I think of them, their names, the days I lost them, and the months they would have been born run like a litany through my head. Sariya, Gabriel, Belladonna. February 20th, December 15th, March 17th. September, June, October.

When I go to the elementary school each year to sign the papers and visit the classrooms of my children, I imagine where they would be. A 3rd grader, a 2nd grader, and a baby barely four months old in my arms. But they are not there.

I believe that my Ancestors, both distant and those who have recently departed, watch over me and my children. I ask them for help and they listen. We remember them and feel their presence. I wonder what form my children who were never born take. I believe they are there with my ancestors, not because of any historical evidence or theological ponderings, but because that belief is healing.

I wonder if they are forever tiny babies, cradled by my great grandmothers, smiling in their sleep and nuzzling into their chests with sweet baby noises. I wonder if the older two are raucous children, arguing with each other and throwing playthings around, making one of my grandpas laugh and the other one to put on his stern ‘stop that’ face. I wonder if they keep an eye on their brothers and sisters, a little voice in the back of their head that urges caution – or maybe reckless bravery.

I don’t know. They are on my Ancestor altar, three little glass flowers surrounded by tokens of those I love and who would have loved them. Each year I choose a day to go and leave offerings at the hospital’s communal grave for all children lost before they are born. I bring them lollipops and stickers now. Years ago I brought only my tears and my love. What is remembered, lives.

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