Saturday, March 27, 2010

Farewelcome 2007

The AMC held a memorial ceremony for children who had died at the hospital within the year. They called it a Farewelcome. I thought the name was goofy.

I'm cursed with the role of the continual critic. It limits my participation.

We were supposed to bring our child's "favorite flower". Does a dead baby have a favorite flower? I bought a peony because the daisies were all stupid colors. I would have rather been damned than bring a rose bud. I don't know why.

We were a little late, because we're that kind of people. I didn't know what a person is supposed to wear to a Farewelcome, so I settled on blue jeans, black boots, jet necklace & black shirt and sweater. Halfway to mourning. It turned out to be appropriate. Anything was appropriate.

We started seeing people with a single flower inside the hospital lobby. It seemed there was a good turnout. We checked our peony in a vase by the door.

First surprise. Which was not really a surprise. 90% of the women were pregnant. A baby belly was the must-have fashion accessory. I say it isn't a surprise because I understand it. There were also older children being Farewelcomed, but most of the losses were infants. If a dead baby is a conversation with God, then pregnancy is the only possible reply.

If you can still speak, of course.

Second surprise. We were seated and I was trying to channel Jackie Kennedy when someone loomed in my personal space. An old co-worker. "I don't know the story," he said, and took my hand. "But strength to you both." More about him later.

So then they played the harp. Why is it always a harp? And then they read all the names. Nobody in Holland can pronounce Eleanor. As your child's name was read, you were supposed to go light a candle. Some little kids went up a couple of times and lit candles whenever they felt like it.

Then they read a story about a squirrel. B. didn't think it was dumb.

Then more harp. Then we left.

So this old coworker: We went for coffee afterwards. They lost their baby in August. She's actually up to the same point in her pregnancy where she lost the baby before. The pregnancy was great until they went in for their 20 week echo. They baby had massive genetic problems and no heart to speak of. So they induced at 22 weeks, knowing the outcome.

"Pregnancy is so much fun," I cracked, weeping.

She wiped her own tears away. "A rose colored cloud."

(edited to say that this happened, as the title says, in 2007. I was working on something else, and came back to this fragment. And as it isn't part of anything else, I posted it here.)


  1. I'm so sorry. A peony was a perfect choice. This sounds lovely what a lovely thing to do. With a really goofy name. Like anything with the word Fest attached to the end.

    There is a book festival in Seattle called Burning Word. I read there a couple years ago and kept accidentally calling it Burning Book.


  2. Beloved Snail, I don't know what to say other than this: I arrived here, read your words and left with an ache. And then I returned - several times - still unable to find words, but wanting somehow to put a hand out and to stand quietly alongside you in this space.

  3. Rebecca and Claire, thank you.

    Based on the challenge of a friend, I sat down to see if I could manage to write something funny. This bit of memory from 2007 was all I could manage to work on. It's not part of a larger piece, and never will be, I don't think. I put it here because it felt kind of like a blog post.

    So I guess the answer on whether I can be funny for more than a twitter line is: Not so much.

  4. Thank you. I'll be back.
    Why is it always a harp? If someone brings in a harp when I'm on the way out, I will take that person with me.
    You write beautifully.