May 30, 2011

Right Where I Am: 67 Days

My free moments often take me down long and heart wrenching rabbit holes looking for stories about baby loss. Sometimes I click and read and click and read, digging deeper and deeper until I suddenly find that the depth of my despair has plummeted to the depth of the rabbit hole I’m lost in. Like when I read about parents who seem to give up hope or when I read about the mother who lost four babies. But every so often, I dig down and click and read and then, promptly, I find myself emerging out of the ground in a better place, with more hope and less despondency. I had one of those moments today when I stumbled upon a beautiful blog called Still Life With Circles. In her latest post, she asks her baby loss readers to write about where they are now in grief. So that is what I will do.

It’s been sixty-seven days since our Margot June died. We were so, so close to meeting her. She was right there, breathing and kicking, just about to enter into our lives. And we lost her. And I miss her so much I can barely let myself think of her, my actual physical second child who weighed nearly eight pounds and closely resembled her older sister. And this is perhaps the dominating face of my grief on day sixty-seven. I miss my daughter. I want her to be here. I want to lay her across my bare chest and breath together. I want to see Stella interact with her. I want to share her with our friends. I want to crawl into bed happily exhausted from caring for two children, instead of crawling into bed hoping the nightmares will pass by me. I miss her. I miss her. I miss her.

There are other emotions of course, less forceful, but lurking none the less as I approach seventy days.

My mind and heart continue to be on different teams, each vying for my allegiance, each making the necessary arguments. My rational reminds me that death is part of life and that it wasn’t long ago that losing babies was somewhat normal. It implores me to hold these truths close and tells my heart to relax a bit. My heart gushes forth the obvious. Margot died. Her body was cremated a few days later and a few weeks after that, we poured her ashes out in the river. And we will always long for her, no matter how normal and frequent death is. My mind usually sweeps in when my heart can’t take it anymore.

I wondered in the hospital how long it would take for us to laugh again. I wondered how long life would run in slow motion. I wondered when I’d be able to walk at a normal pace again, or smile to a passing stranger. I wondered when we would care about anything else, like who won survivor or what to build next or where to go on vacation, if there could ever be such a wonderful thing as a vacation again.

But in the midst of Everything That Happened, we have laughed since Margot died. We laugh when Stella uses her funny voice, a low, deep sound, like she is old and southern. Helllllllo Daaaadddy. And Kari and I still laugh about random things, just like we used to. We dance every day together as a family, just like we used to. Of course, we swing our hips to the Margot June mix instead of Bob Marley, but we’re still dancing. I walk to work at a normal pace and sometimes, when I’m ripping a 2X10 or sanding a beautiful piece of reclaimed hickory, I feel a tinge of normalcy. And we leave for Palm Springs in the morning for two nights in the desert. I can’t call it a vacation, but it’s something I guess. I couldn’t have imagined that in the midst of the constant pangs of loss and a sorrow deeper than I could have ever imagined, all of this would somehow still exists.

If you took the pieces of my emotions from the last twenty-four hours and scattered them around the screen and dissected each one, you would learn rather quickly that where I am on day sixty-seven is an utter mess. And by mess, I mean depressed and hopeful and sad and happy and angry and controlled and desolate and content all at once. And I’m learning to be okay with this new reality, however long it exists.

[as a side note to everyone who has been following our journey. thank-you for reading this blog for the past sixty-seven days. i can't even begin to express my gratitude for your repeated hits and comments. each one seems to be a shot of hope and your empathy and shared grief is often just what we need. so please keep following and say hello from time to time.]

[special thanks to Angie at Still Life for this beautiful project.]


Amanda said...

Dropping everything to read every single word you write the moment I see something new is posted. Thanks for allowing us a brief look inside your circle. Dear sweet Margot June. And Stella that little funny Valentine.

still life angie said...

I am sorry to read about Margot, and what you and Kari have been through. It is more than any human should have to bear. 67 days. It is so raw. Probably the longest and shortest two months of your life. I have no idea how, but somehow we keep moving, even when we want the world to stop. I think other grieving people gave me strength when I couldn't muster my own, and they definitely said the words I couldn't speak and loved me until I could love myself again. But all the intricacies of this life boil down to the missing. Sending both of you love and a gentle time in the desert. Thank you for sharing right where you are. And glad to have found your blog, got it bookmarked, and I'll be back.

Anonymous said...

We love you more than words can express. We miss sweet Margot June and continue to grieve with you. Can't wait to hug, squeeze and love on sweet Stell. All our love, always.
Mike, Joni and Miles

Anonymous said...

Josh and Kari, we still think of and pray for you daily. We have read all your posts, and while we so wish we had the "right" thing to say to somehow ease your pain, nothing seems even remotely adequate. Please just know that we love you and we are here.

All our love, Chad and Kate

Anonymous said...

It was once said by someone, that having a child is like allowing your heart to "walk" around outside of your body.

Keep taking one moment at a time, accepting yourself right where you are. Hold on to each other.

Keep choosing better over bitter. I believe Margot June would want you to laugh, love and live each day freshly through the eyes of a child.

There really is light at the top of the rabbit hole, you can make it.

::athada:: said...

I don't even know if this is appropriate, but your postscript makes me err on the side of commenting.

It scared the shit out of me yesterday. Becky called me crying, said she fell down the stairs at home. I ran to the street corner and jumped in the first cab to rush home. She landed on her elbow & back so I suspected she was fine, and the Dr. confirmed as much. She was shaken... the scare released our nervous energy of the underlying stress of living in a foreign land. When she first called me, I thought of you guys.

Not just of your accident, but of that Wesleyan kid sowing provocative comments from Australia some 7 years ago. Of the strange phenomenon of tracking a relative stranger's life for years on a screen. Of our two meetings, ever (you had a massive self-constructed taco salad in Baldwin; a bowl of chili at the Indy Steak 'n' Shake). Of encouraging words, of sharing ideas and strategies and doubts.

Thanks again.

Missy said...

Margot is a beautiful girl. It is so rare to get a man's perspective after the loss of a baby. You speak volumes for men who cannot, will not do it for themselves. Margot will live on in your words and that is a precious gift despite the horrific tragedy your family is experiencing. Thank you for joining in on the project and sharing your little girl with us. Strength and hope~

Hope's Mama said...

Wow. I'm so very glad I visited your blog today, but I wish like crazy I didn't have a reason to. Your Margot is a beautiful baby and it is beyond unfair that she's not here, safely snuggled up with you all like she should be. My already broken heart aches with yours tonight.
I've been a long time reader of Angie's blog and I'm glad you found her as well to take part in this amazing project. The more male voices we have the better, I think.
I will also follow your blog to keep up with your story and to hear your incredibly insightful reflections on grief. I can't believe you are managing this, so soon after the shitstorm in your lives.
Love to you all.

Kayla Rupp said...

your writing kills me, my friend. i mean really. your blog is so real it is almost breathing. thank you for it. i still pray for your amazing family, and i am pretty sure i always will.


Mandy said...

i, too, drop everything to read your words. you bring perspective and honesty and beauty. thank you. still praying for your family.

Megan said...

I have been thinking so much about you guys since Saturday, which marked the beginning of my 38th week. It brings your tragedy even more in focus for me. Beautiful, honest words. Keep sharing; we're all still here.

Josh Jackson said...

Thanks to everyone for commenting...I'm not exactly sure why a few words here and there make a difference, but they do. Even when someone says, "nothing seems even remotely adequate," it somehow keeps me writing. I think the fear is that everyone else will move on and we'll be stuck alone with our sadness. I think these comments and their meaning speak to our tribal nature, our desire to share things together.

Adam, I'm relieved to hear all is well in Bolivia. I'm not sure how much can be inappropriate when it comes to death and grief, especially when neither party has any idea how to respond. I hope to trade grace for grace in these sort of instances. Grace for us in however long this grief sits heavy and grace to our friends who may never ask about it or who aren't sure what to say.

And thank-you to Angie and Missy and HopesMama and anon for your love and encouragement. I do feel in the dark sometimes as a husband. Where are the men in these blogs? I'll keep plowing forward...I have to write and couldn't stop if I tried. Lots of love and courage to each one of you.

Anonymous said...

I think about you and Kari and Stella often! I am also one that anticipates your blogs because they are so raw and captivating. Thank you for sharing your mixed emotions and experiences of grief. Sending a hug to all of you!

Anonymous said...

I was introduced to your blog threw jens list and ever since then I make sure to check in if not every other day but twice a week. I continue to pray for you, Kari and beauitful Stella to guide you and keep you safe from harm always . Thank you for sharing your life, love and hopes with us.

Anonymous said...

I can no longer remember how I came across your blog, pretty sure someone started a prayer circle. I have said many prayers for you, Margot, and your dear family. Your words are a beautiful tribute to Margot and something that you will look back on years from now and be grateful to have. You are an amazing writer and I look forward to reading more. I came across a link to this article that I thought you would like to read.

david owen said...

hi josh - i guess now might be the time to let you know that my sister also lost a baby at 39 weeks. Your ability to convey your feelings has made me appreciate her pain like never before. thank you brother.

Josh Jackson said...

Anon, thanks for the link. I read everything I can about grief and can really identify with the words in this article.

David, I'm so so sorry to hear of your sister's loss. It is heartbreaking beyond belief and the deeper I get into this, the more I realize we will be dealing with this in some capacity for the rest of our lives. Please give your sister our deepest sympathies. And thanks for sticking around on the blog. Lots of love to you and Amanda and the kiddos.


Anonymous said...

Josh, I'm so, so sorry to read of your sweet Margot.

Whenever I read of another baby, another family bereaved, I'm shocked again at how brutal it all is. It's unbearable.

I'm still a mess, 3 years out from Iris' death. But a functioning mess. Like a teenagers bedroom: it's a bear pit, but at least I know where everything is.

Sending love to you and your family.

Josh Jackson said...

Thanks AfterIris for your comment and I'm so sorry for your loss. It sounds like our second child stories are so similar. I've been following your story for a few months now...thanks for still writing.

Corrie said...

I too don't know you, but I too have come to your blog daily to witness your pain and in doing so have said many a prayers for your sweet family. I like to think that God is smiling down on all of us with Margot June and waiting for the day when this circle of strangers and friends and loved ones will be reunited with the little girl that brought us all together.

erica said...

Oh, Josh. Thank you for writing so beautifully about the missing, and the mess. I'm glad you participated in the Right Where I Am postings, but I'm so sorry you are in a position to do so, so sorry your beautiful Margot isn't here with you and for all you and Kari have been through.

Molly said...

Wow. Thanks for your comment on my post. I love how you say you dance to the Margot mix (I have a Hayes mix) but that you still dance. Amazing and refreshing (but heartbreaking) to find a dad on here. I remember where you are. This is a rough journey but one I hope we all make it through intact.

brianna said...

"And we will always long for her, no matter how normal and frequent death is."

I've thought about this same thing time and time again. I work in medicine. I've seen death frequently and know that it is a necessary part of life. One cannot exist without the other. Death is what makes life precious and yet I still cannot accept that my son has died.

And of course, in all the chaos the normalcy does creep back in. The laughter returns, even if when it stops it is tinged with the recognition of what is missing.

Thank you for sharing your story of your sweet daughter Margot. A beautiful name for a beautiful girl. I am so sorry that you are without her.

Renee said...

"Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery's shadow or reflection: the fact that you don't merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief."
- C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

My daughter, Sara and I were looking through some of her old photo albums last night and came across one with several pictures of her and Kari at the age of 13 or so, in silly-sweet poses. My first thought was sadness. Her photographed face held no signs of the grief I know she now must carry. But, this morning I read your words and I realized how blessed she is, that you can lean on one another, that you are there to help her carry her grief, that you both have Stella to laugh and dance with and so I asked the Lord (because He understands suffering better than any of us) to ease yours. Thank you for sharing your grief.

Gwen Jackson said...

Picturing those moments of you all dancing together to the Margot mix. Remembering dancing with Stella one morning to that same music, cheek to cheek.

Missing you all, and wishing, too, that our sweet little Margot was in the picture.

Love and hugs.

Brooke said...

I'm so sorry to read about the loss of your Margot, which also happens to be one of my most favorite names. It hurts me to remember where I was two months out--six months after the loss of my daughter, I can recall everything so vividly but the terrible parts don't haunt me all the time the way the used to.

Belinda Kendall said...

Jack,thanks for sharing your heart and your raw emotions in a not so common way! I commend you and yet I know from experience that it is more for your own healing than for us. I know because we too experienced the loss of a child...two actually--one before birth and another 21 months after birth. Which was worse? Grief is grief. Lose of a loved one is lose of a loved one. Nothing measureable about it! This is last year's blog post about Memorial Day
I didn't write one this year...actually I have one started- it is entitled Happy Memorial Day? Honestly, someone is thinking when they say that.
I do offer some hope and help in the healing! I have found God to be truly a God of all comfort, patient and kind and gracious in the midst of the suffering. I have found Him faithful and strong enough to withstand my tears, questions and fists pounding on His chest. I have also found Him to have arms wide open and a lap big enough to hold us all!
It has been 22 years since the death of our precious daughter and May still brings memories but we wouldn't want NOT to remember, now would we? I have read much in my journey and like you the stories of others are somehow comforting to me! If you haven't read Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman's story of their own graduating senior running over their adopted daughter in the safety of their own driveway, google it and read. A beautfilly inspiring and healing CD came from the pain called Beauty Will Rise. It is solace to my soul. I could go on and on.
A recent book I read that you may or may not be ready to reaad is Heaven is for Real. At first I did not find comfort in the fact that Megan was in heaven because she wasn't with me! However, over the years it has become my dearest comfort! Another magnificient read for me was a little book by Jack Hayford about his experiences as a father with the death of infants, I'll Hold You in Heaven. May you find comfort, my friend and fellow struggler! Belinda Kendall

Belinda Kendall said...

Thought you might enjoy this:
The Good

It was you and me and the whole world right before us

I couldn’t wait to start

I saw you and dreams just like everyone before us

We thought we knew what we got

And then one day I thought it slipped away

And I looked to my hands to hold on

And then one day all my fear slipped away

And my hands did so much more

So maybe we won’t find easy

But, baby, we’ve found the good

No, maybe we won’t find easy

But, baby, we’ve found the good!

It was you and me and a new world right before us

I was so scared to start

I saw you and dreams just like everyone before us

But how did they move so far?

And then one day I thought it slipped away

And I looked to my hands to hold you

And then one day all my fear slipped away

And my hands did so much more

So maybe we won’t find easy

But, baby, we’ve found the good

Maybe we won’t find easy

But, baby, we’ve found the good!

To my awesome husband Aaron- Maybe we won’t find easy, but baby, we have found the good! I love you~ Rachel

Fireflyforever said...

Thank you for commenting on my blog - and I am so very sorry that your beautiful Margot is not right where she should be, in your arms. Her name is beautiful.

You write beautifully. "I miss her. I miss her. I miss her." - 2.5 years out, that is still the main refrain in my head. I miss her every single day, profoundly.

My husband kept a blog. He doesn't update much now but it's still up, if you want another man's words. He's in my blogroll -"My baby, Emma", if you are interested.

Josh Jackson said...


Thanks for your kind words and for passing on your husbands blog. I just read through most of the last year and appreciated all of his words. I'll keep going back and picking my way through. It's nice to know another father who is writing.


Davecaster said...

Hello Josh,
I am so sorry to read about your loss. My heart breaks for you and your family.

I found, like you mentioned earlier, that daddys are hard to find in the blogging world and I am sorry if you feel isolated. There are some of us but (just like me) they don't update very often.

I honestly don't know if my blog would be of any comfort to you, I was incredibly selfish with it and wrote for an audience of one -me! Having said that, it is there, if you want to look.

If you feel like you need someone to talk to, who has a small incling of what you are going through (but no answers) then drop me a message on my blog and I'll get back to you.

Take care,

Emma's Daddy

Catherine W said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of your beautiful little daughter, Margot June. So close, it just breaks my heart.

My mind and heart continue to be on different teams, each vying for my allegiance, each making the necessary arguments. This was something I felt very strongly. Rationally, I know that sometimes pregnancies do not end happily, that babies sometimes die. That someone has to be unlucky and, on this occasion, it was me. But that didn't make me any more accepting because my heart hurt too much.

I hope that you, Kari and Stella keep up the daily family dance, dancing to Margot June's music.

Josh Jackson said...

Emma's Daddy,

Thanks for your kind words and for your offer to talk. I will certainly leave a comment your way when I need a father who is ahead of me. I will keep checking in, even if your posts are infrequent.

Lots of love to you and your family,


Hanen said...

Hi Josh, I've just found your blog and I'm so sorry. Your beautiful little Margot - she's amazing. My heart broke to find out that you lost her via abruption - that's how we lost our Z. I loved your post about the river water. And the table you made is such a beautiful thing to do - to remember Margot and include her in your family life. I wish I had the expertise to make something that beautiful! Thanks for your kind words over at mine too. Glad to have found you, sorry that we have this grief in common.

sarah said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. And wow, you sum up what life was like in those first few months quite eloquently. At 67 days I was an utter and complete mess. The full spectrum of intense emotions swamped me, and minute to minute living was so unpredictable. It gets...smoother, I guess that's a word for it. Less jumbly, less least sometimes.

Again, I'm so sorry for the loss if your precious Margot. I love her name.

Mary Beth said...

What a beautiful name, Margot June. I am so sorry she is not with you in your arms.

Angie is right when she says these have probably been the longest and shortest two months. I remember being where you are, thinking I'd lived a lifetime in two months, and yet still feeling so raw and broken.

I look forward to reading along with your journey. Sending lots of love your way.

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