Fire, Glass, OH MY GOD

4 Jun


I had a loose mental sketch of this year’s entry. It was going to be called “#braveface” and it was going to be about a new sort of grief (new to us anyway) that we’ve only recently begun to understand and that’s the grief surrounding infertility and miscarriage. Take my word for it: it was going to be a really sensitive and stirring post with fat, salty tears in both the telling and the reading. Boy, were you in for some kind of treat.

But forget all that. I’d rather talk about something that happened a couple of hours ago.

TOT readers will recall that, a year ago, I wrote something to fellow grieving parents who are, like us, trying to figure out how to navigate the unique pain of losing a child or children. I mentioned some of the things we do on June 4. Nothing exotic, but we take time for our boys. We take the day off work. We try to get out of the house. And on the minute of each of their births, we light a candle and say a word or two.

And that happened. We’re blessed to have friends and family who remember three little men who would’ve been four years old today. People are kind and thoughtful with texts, comments, cards and even the occasional gift. “We love you.” “We’re thinking of you and RDO today.” “We remember.”

It genuinely makes the day easier. And in a strange way, I’ve almost begun looking forward to June 4. It’s painful remembering, but it’s also good. It’s a relief. And it fills my heart to hear from people who love us and love children they never got a chance to meet.

Anyhow: a couple of hours ago.

We were doing our thing. Rudyard was born at 6:28 AM, so we lit a candle on our mantle near his urn and said a word or two. Through the years, the mantle has gotten pretty busy with gifts, art and mementos. There’s a lot going on and most of it’s dedicated to the boys, so it makes sense to pick that as our Remembering Place.

7:03. Desmond. We lit a candle, took a moment or two. Oscar wasn’t until 8:40, so after Desmond’s candle, we took some time to do morning things, like brewing tea and replying to a few texts and emails on our phones. My sisters had gone out of their way this year to purchase memorial gifts and we were in the process of thanking them when I discovered our wifi was out. Specifically, our living room wifi extender wasn’t giving a signal.

The wifi extender, I should add, that’s plugged in just above the mantle.

Best thing for that is the old unplug/replug, so, careful as you please, I reached around the artwork, knickknacks, cards, mementos and flaming candles and grabbed the wifi extender. I pulled. It stuck. I worked it back and forth, harder, harder.

If you can see where this is headed, you’re smarter than I was.

One final tug and the extender came flying out of the wall, crashing into our meticulously manicured memorial. The objects of our solemnity flew through the air and exploded onto the ground. Rudyard’s candle burst into a million pieces, with glass, flames and hot wax ricocheting through our living room.

Carey was screaming her head off (they haven’t invented a font big enough):


We flew into action, isolating the cat from the scene, sweeping glass, vacuuming rugs, chipping solidified wax from the floor and walls. In the end, we had to move couches and impromptu-redesign the Memorial Area. There was swearing and bickering. At one point, Carey cut her hand. Our Mourning Morning was a mini Roland Emmerich film, a cacophony of injuries and destruction.

We replaced candles and put the room back together in time for Oscar’s moment (whose candle Carey lit, as I can no longer be trusted).

But, you know, as we were in the backyard, beating glass shards from the rug, I told Carey, “I’m glad this happened.”


“I’m serious! I am!”

“Well that’s dumb.”

And she’s probably right. But, man, that’s life and that’s grief. You can meticulously plan all you want. You can manufacture all the solemnity in the world, but in the end, you’re gambling against the reality of the chaos curve and you’re going to find that the curve usually wins. Life, grief, whatever you want to call it isn’t as pretty as we’d like it to be. It’s not a Fellini film, it’s a 2nd grade play. The music tends to swell at the wrong time and the actors will likely trip over their costumes, get distracted, flub their lines. Forget all about grace and majesty. Just get through the performance without burning down the stage and call it a win.

Grief sucks. Death is bullshit. Really: it’s a bonafide pile of glistening, sun-kissed bullshit.

And what can you do? My sons are gone, but I get to say I met them. So maybe it was under the messiest possible circumstances. Maybe that’s better than not meeting them at all.

Since that’s pretty weak as a wrap-up, here’s one last thing: my wife has, in the past, had the good taste to post music that reminds her of our triplet sons and I think I’d like to do the same before I go. About a year and change ago, I discovered three songs, all covers, that I found myself playing over and over and I realized each one made me happy because each reminded me of one of my boys.

Rudyard’s song is the last thing anyone would expect me to post, but, man, Josh Weathers destroys it. The big, salty tears I promised earlier are all here and when I hear this, I remember my brave boy:

Desmond’s song is the least surprising thing in the world. It’s his namesake and it’s as fun as he would have been. I think, when the Beatles wrote it, this is what they were going for:

Oscar’s song is how I like to think of Oscar: clever, strange, innovative, funny. It’s one of the greatest songs of all time, performed in a way The King never intended:

Today, boys, you would have been 4.

Love you. Miss you.


9 Responses to “Fire, Glass, OH MY GOD”

  1. parko58 June 4, 2015 at 10:34 am #

    Jeremy, you’re writing is spot on as usual and for all it’s down to earthiness still a tearjerker.
    Thinking of you all

  2. Mike Cargill June 4, 2015 at 10:44 am #

    My wife has shared your lives with me, and I continue to carry you all in my heart. As a guy, I have to say that the mantle explosion is what would have happened if you had 3 four-year-old boys running through your house today. You have them present with you in every moment of accidental destruction, every moment of unexpected joy, and every incident of irritation at life’s pain in the ass gifts. The moments that suck but become great memories, those have “boy” written all over them. Thank you so much for letting me know you.

  3. Kim Hone-McMahan June 4, 2015 at 11:33 am #


  4. Audrey June 4, 2015 at 1:55 pm #

    You really know how to say it. And I’m thankful that you did. Rudyard and Desmond and Oscar always feel so close to my own boys because their birthdays are 4 days apart. So in preparation for my day, I’m grateful for these words. And on your day, please know all five of you are loved.

  5. pghwelshgirl June 4, 2015 at 4:17 pm #

    Jeremy and Carey,

    I check out the Tips on Triplets site every once in a while, but admit I had forgotten today was the boys’ birthday until the reminder showed up in my email.

    I posted a long time ago – either after their birth or their first birthday. Can’t quite get the hang of this WordPress thing – my user name then was “ivymam” I think. And my avatar was Ivy’s actual footprints.

    Since you’re posting videos of songs, here are some in memory of all our lost but loved babies, Rudyard, Desmond, Oscar, and my Ivy.

    “Mi gysgi di maban,” a Welsh folk song about a mother mourning her child:

    “All Through the Night,” another Welsh song that I sang to Ivy while I was pregnant with her. I think I included the lyrics in my first post to this site:

    And a lovely cover of the WWII-era song “I’ll Be Seeing You” I sing it for losses of all kinds – lost babies, deceased cats, dead dreams:

    These are all awfully sad, as that is where I am under many layers of grief today. But I picture you two dancing together to that wonderful version of Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da, celebrating your love and your endless connection to your boys. That’s a song, too, I think – “I Hope You Dance”. I hope you do.

    aka pghwelshgirl
    always, always Ivy’s mom

    • pghwelshgirl June 5, 2015 at 6:18 am #

      Sorry, did not mean to “deadbabyjack” this year’s memorial to your boys. After I posted, I realized I did, although not intentionally. I don’t have support or recognition, and visiting sites like your resonates with my hunger for those things. Also sorry about the big video clips – thought they would be just links to YouTube.

  6. Erin Burtoft June 5, 2015 at 2:24 am #

    You have an amazing way of making something amazing out of something awful and absurd. Thanks, Jer.


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