death, Guest Posts, healing, motherhood

Lying To A Stranger & Then Finding Love: A Tale of The Interwebs & Connection.

August 17, 2016

Note from Jen Pastiloff:

So I received this message on Instagram from a woman I didn’t know the other night. My community there is beautiful and active. I had posted about an opening in the “Writing & The Body Retreat” I do with Lidia Yuknavitch. For those of you who don’t know Lidia (and you should! you should!)- I call her my “wifey.” She has written life-changing books, given a bring-you-to-your-knees TED talk (watch it here) and teaches writing (and also, basically, how to just be a free AF human being.) If ou follow her on Facebook, you know what I mean. People live and die by her Facebook updates.  Her memoir, The Chronology of Water, starts with the loss of her daughter, who was born stillborn.

Read it if you haven’t yet. (Thank me later.) We do have one spot open for next month, otherwise catch us in Portland March 15-17 or take one of her amazing online courses. 

That book (and Lidia) changed my life, and I don’t say that lightly.

So I posted on instagram about our retreat and I got this message after someone had commented that Lidia’s book had really helped her. Her brave message to a stranger moved me tremendously.

Here it is:

“Dear Jennifer, I’m not sure you will read this and I’m not sure I will even send this but I need to get this out, either way. I want to begin by saying that This Instagram thing is so strange and so beautiful and so weird. Connecting with strangers and the desire to be “seen” and “heard” through use of language, likes and emoticons (our modern day hieroglyphics) It’s by explaining this that recently I have been leaving comments on your pages beneath the beautiful and raw as red meat posts on Motherhood.

You have written back a few times and I felt less alone. And inspired. And when I received your words, my heart bloomed and gushed. That’s the beauty of social media. No, I’m no stalker. Or a weirdo (only stalkers and weirdo’s say that, right?) But I’m trying to get somewhere in explaining all this with you.
You probably don’t remember, as you receive so many messages, but yesterday you posted about your friend Lidia Yuknavitch. Now here’s the weird thing part of social media.

I wrote beneath your post that lidia’s work, the Chronology of Water helped me through the time in my life when I grieved for the loss ofmy own daughter at birth.
I’m ashamed to say this but that was a lie. I have never read any of Lidia’s books. I have wanted to. I’m going to. But I haven’t. I wrote that because I needed someone to catch that memory. I wrote that because it felt scary to fling it out there into the dark void of Instagram and for my pain to be caught by your kaleidoscopic care. It’s bizarre I’m telling you this.

But that’s it. In a nutshell, I lied to you, a stranger who I read about on Instagram, me who you don’t know. Me who is writing this Unshowered and sweating with an hour for myself before my husband comes back with the baby. And this ridiculous lie was on my mind all night, and I didn’t need to tell you because there’s really no need and you won’t give a fuck anyway but I lied that I had read your friends book, your friend who has suffered a similar loss as mine. A lie in order to connect.

Actually, not a lie to connect. But a lie because I’m so fucking lonely in my grief and in motherhood and finding myself within the thicket of sleep deprivation and deeply caring for my boy.

There I said it. I was vacuuming and I added this on.

Like you’re listening. Like I’m having a conversation to myself.

But maybe you’re there-“

——–

I told her I was. There. And that I was listening.

Connection is real- however you get it. However you find it. So we started talking and she sent me the following essay about losing her daughter. And I think you should read it and let her know in the comments because I do believe connection is everything. As Brené Brown says, we are hardwired for connection. That is at the core of all the work I do and why I am started an online course experience next month. To simply connect and be more free, to take up space in the world, and to share our stories. Like this one:

By Katherine J.

It was backpacking through China with my husband that we came to know I was pregnant. The little stick I peed on told us so. And then a second one told us the same. I was so eager to return home, to care for myself, to prepare for this little being. My husband was ecstatic. Very early on in our relationship, we had always spoken about the children we would have together. And here we were.

Once back in America, I felt safe and ready to nest. This feeling would not last long. The first blood test and ultrasound revealed that my baby was in some way “abnormal”. What that abnormality was, they did not know and it could only be revealed through more thorough testing. It took weeks, months, of waiting, waiting, always waiting for results.

They told us over the phone. Our baby was diagnosed with a major heart defect. And one that could not be fixed. They would not operate at birth. My baby was deemed incompatible with life. I kept repeating the words over and over in my head, tapping each syllable onto my arm, the kitchen counter, my coffee cup.

In-com-pat-i-ble-with-life.

That man over there yelling at his wife, is compatible with life. That child eating ice cream, is compatible with life. That flower, that dog. And aaaaaaall the other babies. Compatible with life.

I thought of my daughter’s heart. I thought of her tiny heart that would not function. Never ever. I thought of her tiny heart that was rushing like a freight train within me. I heard it once. And then I asked to never hear it again.

You see, she was thriving within me. Growing, and moving, and swishing and she was all elbows and legs, kicking softly.

When we were told the diagnosis, I was a little over six months pregnant. But I did not stop being a mother. I sang to my baby, I danced with my baby, I played music to my baby. My daughter. Through my womb, I sang to her lullabies, I let her hear the sound of the ocean, the sound of water trickling in a fountain, I let her feel the cool rain as it fell on my belly, I crushed crispy fall leaves near my belly in the hopes she could hear. I gave her flowers, her father played songs on his guitar and he whispered love to her and we touched her through my belly- tickled her.

It was time to let her go. It was no longer safe to keep her, for me or her. I gave birth to my daughter, in a hospital. I was induced. I went through contractions and everything else that comes with birth. Only I knew my daughter would not be born alive.

My husband never left my side.

During labor, I saw four people dressed in white in the corner of the room. Later I asked my husband who they were. I thought they were doctors or medical students, observing. My husband said besides himself and me, there were only three people in the room- two nurses and the doctor. I’d like to believe they were protectors or, yes, angels even.

She was born so peacefully. With the softest smile. Breathless.

We held her. She was weightless. Already of the stars. Her gentle fingers around my thumb. Still warm. Then, stone cold stiff.

I gave birth to death. The sweetest death.

My daughter. Sunshine. That is her name. That is what she was.

And is.

All other names were too earthly for her. She was bigger than life. And so free. She knew only love.

“You are my Sunshine, my only Sunshine…”

The aftermath was grueling. An unbearable grief.
 And when the milk came in, it was as if my breasts were weeping. And at sunset, and sunrise, it was as if she was dancing and laughing across the skies, finger paintings for Mom and Dad.
 At night, I would wail.

At night, I would walk around the rooms of our apartment, searching for her. During the day, the Southern Califonian sun was relentless and there was no hiding from the red raw pain of my post-partum body under the light of the stark sun. I wanted to run into the rain and drown in it and pull the dark sky over me and hide. The names of the days no longer mattered. Time felt like one long Monday. For a long, long time.

Until, he came along. He, who began to heal what felt broken.

A son that is sleeping beside me as I write this.

A son that giggles and breathes and poops and crawls and wriggles and reaches for me in the night.

A son that points to the moon.

A son with a heart that beats like a jungle drum.

Katherine J. is a writer and yoga instructor. She lives in California with her husband and rambunctious one-year-old boy. Katherine is not on FB so please leave her a note below.
Join Jen Pastiloff for an online experience called "Don't Be An Asshole: How to Forget Perfection and Be Human." Email, prompts, a secret Facebook page, videos & connection. $50 for the first 40 to sign up & then $65. Click photo to book via PayPal.

Join Jen Pastiloff for an online experience called “Don’t Be An Asshole: How to Forget Perfection and Be Human.” You will receive emails, prompts, a secret Facebook page, videos & connection for 4 weeks. $50 for the first 40 to sign up & then $65. Click photo to book via PayPal.

 

 

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42 Comments

  • Reply Lidia Yuknavitch August 17, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    my life story and my body story and my birthdeath daughter story and my son story–sun of my life–make a helix with yours. it is my great honor to read your beautiful words. by the way, lying saved my life. now i write fiction bridges to others. all my love, Lidia Yuknavitch

    • Reply Katherine Jakovich August 18, 2016 at 11:50 pm

      Dear Lidia,

      Your words sent a shiver up my spine.

      I am deeply grateful.

      With love,

      Katherine

  • Reply Karen Mulvaney August 17, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    Dear Katherine, I read Jen’s post about you and your comment to her the other day and when I read your words, my insides vibrated in the way that lets me know of a sameness we share…that I actually think all of us share that is when we take a moment to pause and feel, when we can allow ourselves to remember who we really are, and how we are so much the same as everyone else . So I wrote this comment that Jen asked me to share here since you’re not on FB: “I needed someone to catch that memory.” “My heart bloomed and gushed.” Well holy fuck. Don’t we all feel the same. The power of our sameness even as we are different. Word. LOve love love. and Thank You.” And now, I’ve had the chance to read the essay you wrote and shared with Jen about your beautiful daughter, Sunshine, and your son too. Your writing feels raw and real to me, brave and beautiful too. Even though we obviously don’t know each other except for this moment through this wild wacky web, I felt something so deep for you, and for us all because of your beautiful writing and because we all do share more in common with each other than we sometimes remember or trust. Sending you my love and my thanks too. Karen

    • Reply Katherine Jakovich August 18, 2016 at 11:47 pm

      Thank you so much for all you have written here.I feel you. I feel your support and I am amazed and deeply grateful. I am sending you so much love.

      Katherine

  • Reply Katherine Halsey August 17, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    so deeply moved by your words, your story, by the lie that allowed you to reveal the truth… fiction as a “bridge to others.” deepest gratitude to you… Katherine Halsey

    • Reply Katherine Jakovich August 18, 2016 at 11:56 pm

      Dear Katherine,

      I am so grateful for your words.

      Thank you so much.

      With love,

      Katherine

  • Reply Rachael August 17, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    Yes…my God…connection…lady, whoever you are, we have your back. As Lidia Yuknavitch would say “we are the rest of you”

    • Reply Katherine Jakovich August 19, 2016 at 12:01 am

      Dear Rachael,

      I never knew such a community existed. It’s overwhelming but I am so deeply grateful.

      “We are the rest of you” Holy Wow.

      Thank you so much, Rachael.

      With love,

      Katherine

  • Reply Karen August 17, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    Hi, I understand you aren’t on FB. Good for you. LOL!! Im addicted but it’s my connection tool. Here is my comment i left in Jen’s post. (Thank you Jen!). I tweaked it to be said directly to you.
    “I’m in awe of your honesty. You could have never said anything but you chose to say it. Out loud! What guts!! We’re all connecting with you. I hope you knows this now without hesitation. We are here for you. ”
    Sending much love your way! 😘 Karen

    • Reply Katherine Jakovich August 19, 2016 at 12:05 am

      Dear Karen,

      Your comment makes me want to rejoin FaceBook! This community is amazing.

      Thank you so much for your words and for saying ‘we are here for you’.

      I am amazed and so grateful for you.

      With love,

      Katherine

  • Reply Stephanie Suarez August 17, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    No words…simply, you touched my life, here in NYC with your darkness and pain as well as with your love and light through the image of your beautiful daughter, Sunshine, who knew only love and heard only beauty. I’ll think of her tomorrow when I look up at the sky–and you, too.

    • Reply Katherine Jakovich August 19, 2016 at 12:10 am

      Dear Stephanie,

      You are so beautiful. Wow.

      I shared your words with my husband and a shift occurred within our grief. Your words, along with everyone else’s here, has liberated us, in many ways.

      Thank you so much.

      I am endlessly grateful for you.

      With love,

      Katherine

  • Reply Molly August 17, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    What a beautiful essay. Thank you for sharing your story. Sending you my love.

    • Reply Katherine Jakovich August 19, 2016 at 12:12 am

      Dear Molly,

      Thank you for your love. I feel it.

      With love and gratitude,

      Katherine

  • Reply Barbara Potter August 18, 2016 at 1:01 am

    Thank you so much for sharing you story. Much love to you.

    • Reply Katherine Jakovich August 19, 2016 at 12:14 am

      Dear Barbara,

      Thank you so much for your love and support. I’m so grateful.

      With love,

      Katherine

  • Reply Jean Klein August 18, 2016 at 4:58 am

    What a beautiful essay. I admire your courage to speak the truth. One thing Jen is great at is connecting people from all over and from everyone going through different or the same crap in their lives.
    Know that you and Sunshine are in my thoughts and yes I am connecting with you. With your beautiful soul.
    Jean

    • Reply Katherine Jakovich August 19, 2016 at 12:23 am

      Dear Jean,

      Thank you so much for your beautiful words. I feel you.

      And yes, Jennifer is some kind of Angel-Woman.

      So grateful for you.

      With love,

      Katherine

  • Reply Elle August 18, 2016 at 5:02 am

    Dear Katherine – you are not alone. I see you. In fact I delivered my little boy Noah 15 days ago but didn’t bring him home with me. His ashes arrived here last Friday. I know how it feels to receive a poor diagnosis and to have to make a choice. Thank you for sharing. Love to you.

    • Reply Katherine Jakovich August 19, 2016 at 12:32 am

      Dearest Elle,

      I feel you strongly. I am holding you. My arms and hands are in these words, hugging you gently.

      I am with you, Elle.

      All my love to you and you will be often in my thoughts…

      Katherine

  • Reply Karen Lum August 18, 2016 at 6:11 am

    Katherine,
    I see you and hear you. I wish I could come over for tea and just get to know you and share stories and experiences. And acknowledge one another. Gosh, sleep deprivation is so brutal. I feel like I barely survived it. Love to you, beautiful soul.

    • Reply Katherine Jakovich August 19, 2016 at 12:35 am

      Dear Karen,

      Thank you so much. I wish you could come over for tea too!

      Your words and love mean so much. I am so so grateful.

      With so much love,

      Katherine

  • Reply Cindy Lamothe August 18, 2016 at 9:08 am

    Katherine – I was so moved by your striking, melodic voice. Somehow, you manage to weave between heartache and beauty seamlessly. Thank you for sharing your Sunshine with us.

    • Reply Katherine Jakovich August 19, 2016 at 12:49 am

      Dear Cindy,

      Thank you so much for telling me this.

      Thank you for being open to my words, my voice.

      Sharing this with you, with everyone, is a godsend.

      I am so grateful.

      With love,

      Katherine

  • Reply Christina August 18, 2016 at 10:34 am

    Only one word…BEAUTIFUL!
    Enjoy your son and know you have a sweet angel watching over you and your family always. Hugs!

    • Reply Katherine Jakovich August 19, 2016 at 12:51 am

      Dear Christina,

      Thank you so much for your words and your beautiful energy. I feel your hugs!

      I read your words out loud to my husband and we smiled at one another.

      I am so grateful.

      With love,

      Katherine

  • Reply karen mulvaney August 18, 2016 at 11:10 am

    I’m receiving the updates as each gets posted, for which I am so very grateful. May I say my heart is shattered and lifted in equal measure reading these words written here in this soft cocoon place. What a community…what losses we bear, what amazing grace we have and share. This is what the world needs. More of this. I send all of you my deepest most urgent love and well wishes. xo Karen

    • Reply Katherine Jakovich August 19, 2016 at 1:01 am

      Dear Karen,

      You are beautiful.

      What a community, indeed. “Soft coccoon place”. So beautifully described.

      I have never felt so supported and so much love before. It is transformative.

      Thank you so much for your support and love.

      I am so grateful for you.

      With love,

      Katherine

  • Reply Sky August 18, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    Hello Katherine,
    Your words deeply moved me. I remember your charisma, spunk and strength as a teenager… I looked up to how cool you were even though I was older. Hold onto that essence of who you are and always will be…. A gorgeous unforgettable human being. I’m so sorry for your pain. So many kisses and hugs from me across the ocean to you.
    Sky Carter xxx

    • Reply Katherine Jakovich August 21, 2016 at 11:40 pm

      Beautiful Sky- thank you from my heart xoxoxo

  • Reply Katherine Jakovich August 19, 2016 at 1:25 am

    Dear Beautifuls,

    It has taken me a little while to reply. I feel overwhelmed and slightly awkward receiving so much love and support. Forgive me if my replies sound rigid. I am feeling you all. And I am so grateful for you all.

    I am astounded.

    So much love,

    Katherine xxoo

    • Reply karen mulvaney August 19, 2016 at 11:18 am

      Dear Katherine,
      YOur replies are beautiful, gorgeously worded, filled with vulnerability, gratitude and an overwhelm that is so understandable. I think we all share the surprise of being loved and cared for when we receive an outpouring of such beauty. But isn’t this just so wonderful, that we get a chance right here and now to know how deeply we feel for each other, stranger or friend, known or unknown, and that this is the essence of humanity, what I think each being on the planet is capable of and desires even when hidden deep in the armor of hurt or other unkindnesses and losses experienced in the ebb and flow of life. We are all walking wounded. My hope is we, our world, everyone one of us can turn to healing each other rather than continuing to bleed and continuing to wound each other and ourselves. Every good wish to you wrapped in gratitude for your sharing your soulful unvarnished true self. xo Karen

      • Reply Katherine Jakovich August 19, 2016 at 4:40 pm

        Who are you?!!!! Another Angel-Woman. xoxox

        • Reply karen mulvaney August 19, 2016 at 7:00 pm

          We are each other. I am you. This is what I believe to be true. xo

  • Reply julie August 19, 2016 at 10:02 am

    Dear Katherine, it’s ok that you lied…we all do. I am so sorry for your profound loss.

    My daughter’s teacher had a son who was stillborn. His name is James. It was 9 years ago and even though I was not close to her I never forget him. I still have the outfit I bought for him…just can’t seem to figure out what to do with it.

    Sunshine is a beautiful name…I am sure she is never far from your thoughts.

    • Reply Katherine Jakovich August 19, 2016 at 4:42 pm

      Thank you so much for your words, Julie. Much love to you xoox

  • Reply Jane August 19, 2016 at 10:44 am

    Wow, beautiful and moving words, you are amazing and we are with you with love x

    • Reply Katherine Jakovich August 19, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      Thank you so much xoxox

  • Reply Barb Apanites August 19, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    This is love.

    • Reply Katherine Jakovich August 19, 2016 at 4:41 pm

      Much love to you, Barb, thank you so much.

  • Reply Kerry Stringer September 1, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    Oh Katherine, I felt every word.
    You are never alone. xxx

  • Reply Jill Goldberg January 24, 2017 at 4:56 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. It makes a difference for me.

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