In April, 2017, I brought a green chair from the bargain corner of a very large furniture shop. Or, as we lovingly call it, the furniture pound, the place where lost furniture souls await their new homes. The green chair was perfect, adorned with playful ferns, it felt like wild places and new, flourishing, life. The chair came home with us, taking the honour of the last piece of furniture to travel in our tiny car, also known as our CARDIS, after some light Allen key based adjustments.
A few short months later, our slightly awkward but ever loved, green chair took it’s place in our bedroom, and held the prestige of taking the weight of a newborn haze. Norah, our Brand New Wild Thing, lay in my arms, and the chair cradled me. Through tricky breastfeeding, relentless pumping, and so much exhaustion.
A few short weeks later, our perfect green chair held the telltale stains of a newborn throne. Breastmilk, postpartum blood, and tears. But Norah, our Brand New Wild Thing, was gone. She died.
Just as babies aren’t supposed to. Just as we were getting to know her. Just as quickly as she came.
In February, 2018, on another grief mandated walk, I stopped in the wilds of a Birch filled woodland, amongst the Bracken fern, on a felled trunk framed by wildflowers. The felled trunk held strong, and reminded me in an instant of our green chair, sitting at home, living out it’s days in a room with no purpose. I didn’t cry, as you might expect a recently bereaved mother to. I sat on the bark staring at the Bracken, asking myself why I wasn’t crying. I tried to imagine our parallel world, maybe I’d be sitting on the same trunk, feeding my little love and showing her the trees. In that moment, between those worlds, I was lost. Later that evening, I found myself here. Creating, and committing, to a small digital space.
This is life after neonatal loss, navigating the wilderness,and building Norah’s legacy.The words I began with.
In June, 2018, we marked the end of our first year with and without Norah. In those weeks, I stepped into a Brand New Project, and spent the following nine months asking questions about death, dying and grief. I found stories, language, loss, and life. I found a word, a vastly important word; Thanatology. The study of death, dying and grief. In that word, I sat once again between my parallel worlds, in the intersection between life and death, and this time, I didn’t feel quite so lost. I had a compass now, and a whole practice of storytelling, art, and learning, to guide me through my Wilderness.
In January, 2019, I stood in front of a room full of faces, and I told them our story. In the hours, days and weeks that passed, our green chair found its way into our bedroom once more.
Our green chair, with it’s playful ferns and poignant stains, held our Second Brand New Wild Thing, and cradled us again through the haze; of newborn life, of grief, of the spaces in between.
Those spaces in between; life and death, knowing and not knowing, loving and missing, are where you will find me. It’s May, 2020, and our world feels even more like a Wilderness. But for me, The Wilderness is my home. And it’s in those spaces between, that Navigating the Wilderness is tended.
Beginning as a space to sit with and stumble through grief, Navigating the Wilderness evolved into an understanding, and an expression, of the life that can be found sitting in companion with death.
This is a space to share that expression.