From Noelle

21 Jun

Posting this week will be sparse, even though I have half-drawn thoughts on Father’s Day, E. Coli and other odds and ends wasting time in my WordPress Drafts folder. Our boys’ memorial is this weekend, see, and all available moments are being directed that way.

I mentioned last time that Carey and I have been lucky enough to receive a lot of notes from a lot of beautiful people and today I decided to share one of them. Noelle runs her own blog over at These Mountains Are Mine and, rather than picking through what she said and presenting it in bits for the sake of modesty, I’ll just give you her whole letter.

It’s difficult to explain what it’s like to lose your children and Noelle doesn’t claim to know, but I think she has an idea:


I appreciate the mention on your blog and I hadn’t originally planned to write to you, but after reading your most recent post I figured maybe you’d want me to. I originally wrote a much longer post specifically inspired by your blog. But, after rereading it, I decided not to post it.

I thought maybe my honesty about my lack of understanding would offend or be misunderstood. So instead I decided to steer people towards your blog and experience the story for themselves.

But I’ve decided to share some of the original post with you:

There’s something about the loss of a child that changes you, isn’t there? I haven’t experienced this personally, but I have family and friends who have, even recently. Tips for Triplets dad, Jeremy, got to me today. I read the story of his three sons. It was heartbreaking and beautiful all at the same time. I blame his writing skills for my emotional breakdown. I’ve heard these stories before, but the way he wrote it conveyed all the emotions they were feeling and suddenly I understood.

Losing a child of any age is heartbreaking. It’s just out of order and isn’t suppose to happen. But I’ve never truly understood before, the concept of equal heartbreak for a child who was never born. I know friends who’ve lost babies. I know that they still think about them, love them, grieve for them on their birthdays each passing year, and believe they’ll be in heaven waiting for them someday. Above all they consider that child as much one of their children as any. It’s hard for me to relate and sympathize with those feeling because I guess I’ve just never experienced it. If you miscarry and never name or meet your child can you really already love them that much already? I’m guessing the answer is yes, but the story of the sons that Jeremy lost takes it even deeper for me. They were each born into the world, held in their parents arms, talked to, loved, and then they died. That has to be one of the most heart wrenching situations. He introduces and describes each boy, their unique names and characteristics–I have no doubt they’ll never forget their sons. I’m not sure that I will ever forget their sons.

I remembered something about myself as a child today. My mother had two miscarriages and a stillbirth. I think the still birth was the most painful because they’d already found out the gender and named her…Naomi. She was born, buried and mourned. I remember that growing up I always told people that I had a sister in heaven named Naomi…I really considered her my sister. I don’t even know what it’s like to have a big sister (and honestly, if she’d been born, I probably wouldn’t be here anyway), but I considered her to be very real and she was just a story my mom told me, before my existence. I also remember telling people that really there were six kids in our family, but three were in heaven. I had it in my head that the other two were boys.

Maybe it has something to do with being wanted. When you lose a child that you wanted in your life and should have been…you just lose a child. Once you give your child a name, and a face, how can you get them out of your heart?

I guess the answer is…you can’t.

I know I can’t really understand, but I was absolutely struck by your sons story. I appreciate your honesty about your feelings. I also appreciate your cinematic references. 😉 But most of all I admire your courage. You know, the messy-sometimes angry-courage that it takes to keep blogging and remembering your sons. They have found there way into many of my conversations, and they absolutely will not be forgotten.

Since I have no idea how to end a letter to a stranger, I suppose I will just share with you one of my favorite poems…

At the end of my suffering
there was a door.

Hear me out: that which you call death
I remember.

Overheard, noises, branches of the pine shifting.
Then nothing. The weak sun
flickered over the dry surface.

It is terrible to survive
as consciousness
buried in the dark earth.

Then it was over: that which you fear, being
a soul and unable
to speak, ending abruptly, the stiff earth
bending a little. And what I took to be
birds darting in low shrubs.

You who do not remember
passage from the other world
I tell you I could speak again: whatever
returns from oblivion returns
to find a voice:

from the center of my life came
a great fountain, deep blue
shadows on azure seawater.


Thank you, Noelle.

10 Responses to “From Noelle”

  1. Carly June 21, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    Noelle does such a fine job of articulating the way you have been able to give those of us who have never experienced something like this a shred of real understanding. Beautiful.

  2. Erin Burtoft June 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

    Thanks for sharing Jer. I totally agree that you have an amazing talent–a gift really–of writing so that others actually feel, see, think, and hear through your words. Thank you for sharing your gift. Thank you for sharing your sons.

  3. Lauren Martin June 21, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

    Thank you again for sharing, Jer. And thank you to Noelle. A perfect stranger, however she was able to say much more eloquently than we could, what we all wish to express to you. “We don’t understand completely how you feel. But ‘broken hearted’ is a good place to start.” She truly seems like a beautiful soul. 🙂 I’ll check out her blog.
    And she was right about your writing talent, by the way. We grow up hearing that we are supposed to use our talents to make an impact. For good. You have used your talent to honor your boys, and I can think of no higher calling than that. They have touched so many lives through YOU. Through Carey. And if there’s bragging allowed in heaven, you betcha they’re doing it now–about both their parents. 🙂

    • Erin Burtoft June 22, 2011 at 4:40 am #

      Totally agree, Laur.

  4. LisaMa June 22, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

    I read your story tonight for the first time (link from the Great Umbrella Heist), I’ve felt awful all evening, so damn sad. So I cannot even begin to understand the pain you feel. I lit three candles tonight for Rudyard, Desmond and Oz. I will never forget your story and will always remember your boys by lighting three candles on the 4th of June. I cannot even imagine the pain you guys are going through right now. I am so very, very sorry for your loss.

  5. Susan June 22, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

    Beautifully written. I also agree with Lauren Martin … your boys have major bragging rights.

  6. Esther Hanes June 22, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

    I can’t tell you how much Jason and I think about you guys, but it’s very often. If you decide to keep Tips on Triplets going I think it would be very beneficial for many people, and I would keep the link on our blog as long as you are ok with it (but of course remove it if you wanted).

    Even though our babies are a couple weeks old and I can barely find time to get online anymore, I still seek your blogs out. I can’t explain it, but you guys are heros to me. I hope you both are doing well. 🙂

  7. Becky June 23, 2011 at 4:17 am #

    This Mom is so grateful for the kindness of strangers. So grateful if you and Carey find a moment of solace… a glimpse of feeling “held” in loving arms extended for you. Our hearts break with you and for you. Love, mom

  8. marianne June 25, 2011 at 12:11 am #

    I just read through your entire blog – was linked here from LFCA. I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine what you are going through right now. I’m glad the virtual world has helped – our journey with infertility has been made easier because of the blogging community. We are all behind you guys, rooting for you and your angel boys.

  9. Stephanie June 25, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

    I’ve commented here a few times before and I just can’t get you guys out of my head. And every time I think of you, I hug my little ones a little tighter. I don’t know if its the kind of thing that will bring comfort, but if it is, know that there are at least two children in the world tonight who are a little more loved and a little more cherished because Rudyard, Oscar and Desmond lived.

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