Healing Arts
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Poetry by Angie Westermann

Autumn Ritual

by Angie Westerman

A chill is in the air.
I have felt it now for a week.
The way the wind blows,
The way the wind smells.
It is you all around me

Silently you left 2 years ago
I smell you in the Breath Buster dog bones
I smell you in my Outrageous shampoo
Melting Moments cookies, bubbling
Such strange reminders.

Dx Ball your daddy played for hours.
I listened
Sleeping on the couch
Thinking Ö
Did this really happen?

All of this has become my ritual
As if I am calling out to your spirit
Come to your mama
Nurture her little spirit baby
Come to me

Firetrucks remind me
You would have loved them.
Perhaps you do now
In the spirit world
"wook daddy, truck"

Pumpkins, witches, scary things
That go bump in the night
My little Halloween Baby
Smelling the fall scents
All is you

To my little spirit baby who continually nurtures his mama.
Our love transcends everything, even death.
Sending you sweet kisses. Visit me in my dreams sweet one.
~Mama Forever changed

You tell me to move on

by Angie Westermann

You tell me not to cry
You tell me I have got to get a grip
Get out you say
Enjoy the sunshine
Feel life again

They look at me funny
Like I have grown two heads
Like I am so very different
I make them uncomfortable
Andrew you make them uncomfortable

Tell me why?
Why is it so difficult?
To see my broken heart
To see my wounded soul
A part of me was amputated
It is gone

Tiptoe around you
Letís make this easy for you
Youíre uncomfortable for 10 minutes
I live this everyday, every moment

Tell me my friend
What is it you want from me?
You want me to smile?
When I smile do you think I
When I laugh do you think I
You donít know what to say?
I donít know what to say?

Just please, please be patient with me
Take my hand
Hold my hand
Donít say a word
Just let me know
You are here
We shall sit
Maybe we will talk

Just listen
Donít judge
Let me talk about my baby
Let me say it a million times
Over and over

Just listen
Let me cry if I need the tears
Donít say you understand
Because you donít
Just quietly be my friend

Editor's Note

Angela is a bereaved parent who sent me email one day and then was kind enough to share the above poem with me. I felt the need to give it space and voice here because the message of this poem is one that every family member, friend, and co-worker to a bereaved parent should heed. You don't have to fix anything for us. You just have to be there and allow the bereaved parent to *fully* feel whatever they feel. Don't correct them or rush them. Don't pathologize whatever they feel or do. Just be there. Be human, not instructive, please! And if you can't do that, then please just step out of the way of the parent until you have time to grow up yourself! But don't blame the parent for what you cannot handle!

The Question

by Angie Westermann

Tonight the question was asked.
"How did you live through that?"
"I don't know, " I replied, "I just did."
Somehow I lived through the day my baby died.
That moment is forever embedded in my mind.

"Is he still alive?" I asked. "His heart is still beating," was the reply. I gently cradled my baby son against my beating heart, as the very life I so wanted to give him drained from his. I play this image over and over in my mind. I know it by heart. One single breath, one single beating of the heart separated us. I looked at his father, the tears burning his face, streaming like a river. Neither one of us knew how to comfort one another. But somehow we did. He crawled up in the bed, mother, father, and son lying together. A family. That moment time stood still. All was as it was supposed to be. We wrapped our arms around our little son and slept. Waking up only to find out it was true.

They moved us to a private room.
Family and friends surrounded us.
A thick silence filled the air.
A baby gone
lies in the bassinet beside me.
I look over and think "Why?"

All I can say is, "It's not supposed to be this way!" Confusion, betrayal, sadness and complete chaos take over my world. My baby, my baby PLEASE I beg. The nurses come in and tell me that they have to take him away. "What do you mean, take him away?" I asked. "He has to be kept cold," they say. I had to send my son away to the cold harsh morgue. So when they bring my baby back to me he is no longer warm he is as cold as ice. But you see it has to be this way. He is dead.

The next 24 hours are a complete blur.
"Do you want an autopsy?"
"Is there anyone we can call?"
"Would you like a cremation or a burial?"
Phone is ringing, questions from family far away.
"What happened?"
"Are you ok?"

All I can do is let the tears fall. And they continue to fall. I dress my baby for his service. Caressing all his fingers and toes. Memorizing him. My mind not letting me realize this is the last time I will touch him. Then the time comes when I hand him to his father, who places him in the bassinet. He kisses his son on his head and lets him go. They wheel him away. His time with us is done.

Now over a year has passed.
How did I get through it?
I didn't.
I live it everyday.
I just do.

Author's Note

Written for Andrew by his mum, Angela.

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