There is a blocked, irritated mass of muscles between the ribs on my right side. They are trying to hold things together while while my left side sags beneath the immense weight of my heart.
When I lie down, sometimes it feels as though a lead ball is resting on top of my chest. In the mornings I wonder about my ability to rise, to attend to the usual chores, work projects, exercise, music practice.
But then I realize that if I don’t get up, the lead weight will get heavier and heavier, like an alarmingly fat cat settling in for a long nap on top of me. And maybe I will suffocate under the overweight sadness.
When I get out of bed, and I set up our meditation cushions, when I read to Addison and ring the bell, when I play through a few of our songs in preparation for the upcoming show, the weight is more like a koala bear, hanging on to me from the inside, wrapped around my heart and pulling it down. It’s still heavy, but I can walk around. I can talk to people, make jokes with cashiers, edit newsletters.
And I wonder this: how can I be so heavy, while there is such a big part of me missing? My daughter lived her whole life inside of me, and then she left. When it was time for her to emerge, she refused the calling.
I was her universe.
And I was her death bed.
She was my greatest hope
And now… my greatest sorrow
And my greatest love.
A few months ago, during a set break at one of our last Austin shows, an acquaintance who was attending the performance came over to talk with me. She asked how I was doing. “How are you really doing?” she demanded.
If someone seems to truly want to know how I am doing, than I naturally respond with honesty. “Well…” I began. “It’s been hard. We’re grieving our daughter. I’ve been really sad.”
“Hey,” she said. “You’ve got to go on with your lives. You’ve got to be happy again. You can always have another baby.”
I stared at her.
You can always have another baby.
She kept talking, and it was all of the wrong things. I didn’t ask her to stop. I didn’t ask her to go away. I wish I had been able to.
I will never replace Chickadee. I know this with dead certainty.
She is not like a pet that died, or a collectible item that was stolen.
I may have other children, and they will be themselves, and I will love them for it.
A woman who I have befriended here in Colorado also lost her daughter at birth. It was 40 years ago, and yet whenever we speak of it, tears fill her eyes. She will never forget her baby girl.
Chickadee died on November 15th, 2016. She was born on November 16th, 2016.
As her death and birth anniversary approach, I hope that you will remember her. Maybe you can light a candle for us, or send a prayer. Maybe you can do a good deed on her behalf.
And if you feel inspired to send a note, a card, or whatever, you can mail it to:
520 North Sherwood Street, #26, Fort Collins, CO 80521
We will accept any and all of the love that you are able to offer, with deep gratitude.
P.S. Don’t forget you can preorder the “Chickadee” album here: