On July 24, 2002, my daughter Nora was born.
Thirteen years later, my experience of grieving the loss of the daughter I never got to know is likely different from the experience of new grief that many of the families who attend our annual Remembrance Ceremony are feeling.
I am honored that, in Nora’s memory, we can host the ceremony each year to enable families in our community to have recognition, comfort, and support for losses that our wider world does not always acknowledge.
No longer do I feel the raw emotion of grief each morning upon first waking. Thinking of those days is difficult, and my heart opens for each family who comes forward to release a butterfly in memory of their angel and who may be experiencing those raw emotions still.
Sometimes there are tears. And there is a sense of wondering “What if?”, especially at the milestones of life, but the trauma (and it was traumatic) of new grief has faded for me, thankfully.
Over time, that urgent, overwhelming feeling has been worn down –softened, weathered– by the advance of life, and years, and other losses.
But there is always something missing.
Now the fact is this: Nora is simply part of me, in an even more profound way than she was when she was growing inside of me.
Even though I never got to hear her cry or talk or have her hug me or smile at me, she changed me.
Renewed, reshaped, re-birthed me, by her absence, into who I am today.
Someone who is more brave. Someone who shares her heart. Someone who chooses love over fear.
This is a gift.
Nora is a gift.
~Raina, mom to Nora and Miles
Each year, I try to find a poem or reading for the ceremony that speaks to where I am in my grief journey. This is my selection for the 13th year.
Untitled [This is what was bequeathed us]
By Gregory Orr
This is what was bequeathed us:
This earth the beloved left
Left to us.
No other world
But this one:
Willows and the river
And the factory
With its black smokestacks.
No other shore, only this bank
On which the living gather.
No meaning but what we find here.
No purpose but what we make.
That, and the beloved’s clear instructions:
Turn me into song; sing me awake.