A Gift To Exist

It’s a gift to exist. And with existence comes suffering.
— Stephen Colbert

My child existed for 11 weeks. Now we are suffering.

My wife and I were expecting another child. The baby was due in February next year. But, on Monday, we found out we lost the baby. We nearly made it through the first trimester. I truly believe there was nothing we could have done to fix the situation that we now find ourselves in, but the automatic reaction is to feel a sense of guilt. Guilt that we as parents—the protectors of life—failed. I know this isn’t true but it’s hard not to feel that way. We are dealing with the what-ifs.

Michael Batnick posted a piece on Sunday that really struck a chord with me before I even knew I was going to need it. In his piece, he discussed the passing of his mother and posted a video of Stephen Colbert discussing losing his brothers and father in a plane crash. Both of their comments are helping me through this current grieving process. Now I more fully understand what it means to be a human being.

The statistics on miscarriages are actually quite alarming. It is estimated that about 1 in 4 recognized pregnancies end in some form of miscarriage with 85 percent happening within the first trimester. I’ve had friends and family that have gone through the same unfortunate situation and now I understand their grief. I’m sorry I didn’t fully comprehend your pain and suffering at the time. It’s sad to see how many people are affected by this tragedy each year. I thought there was absolutely zero chance this could happen to us. There was just no way. Not us.

We talked to a therapist to try and wrap our minds around what happened. It made us feel better but we still have a ways to go. As always, time will heal and life will go on.

The grief comes in waves.

This beautiful piece about grief was taken from an archived Reddit page.

As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.

I want to plant a tree in remembrance of my child lost. Something I can take care of and watch grow throughout the years. Something that will remind me of them on a daily basis.

Be thankful for your own life today. Be thankful for your friends, your family, your children. Every life is a miracle. It’s a gift to exist.