The next day, we drove to her house and stayed two nights with their family. The following year, in June 2013, that friend brought her daughter and husband to our house here in Chicago, and 12 others joined. Laura and her husband (and many others) stayed a few nights with us. We've had many g-chat sessions and more emails than I've probably sent anyone in my life over these four years.
Last month, we flew to Vancouver and rented a house in Whistler for four nights with Laura and her family. This time, there were four rainbow babies present. We hit up the spa together, stayed up nightly lounging with beers in hand and chatting about life as it is with one child missing and two before us. It's natural now.
All of this was the result of the Faces of Loss website, founded by Kristin. As a result of Faces of Loss, Laura found my blog and email address, and sent me that first message. The message that told me I was not alone in that exact moment. The one where I knew that someone else, just 8 hours driving distance away, was missing her firstborn son as well. I read about a girl named Caroline and her son, Cale. We're now great friends who have also personally met multiple times now. This connection to blogs then connected us to one another and it was sort of a game of telephone that trickled out as we all added more to our connection base. As a result of Faces of Loss, I am now personally connected to (and frequently meet, chat, or email with) about two dozen babyloss friends who are on a similar timeline to my loss. Most now have a rainbow baby or two. They supported me heavily through my subsequent pregnancies like no other friends could have. Like my friend Brooke said in a recent post, they not only could say "I'm sorry," but "Me too."
That bit was really important. My friends who never experienced loss like I have were still wonderful and appreciated. But I needed those friends who could fully empathize and commiserate (now still!) with what I have been through in losing Andrew. Faces of Loss brought that to me. Faces, stories, timelines.
I followed Faces of Loss, but then had to take a break while I was pregnant with my two rainbows. I just couldn't manage reading the stories and igniting that fear. I was more interested in distracting myself from the reality of actually being pregnant. For sometime, the stories trickled in and then somewhat slowed to a stop. Running a non-profit website with volunteers who are busy and working and caring for children is a tough job! Story submissions were waiting to be published and there were just not enough hands on deck. Another fellow friend, Amy, worked tirelessly and often alone to keep things afloat with story editing and publishing, but just couldn't manage all that was coming in on her own. Concurrently, I was receiving emails from friends who either lost a child or knew someone who did. They wanted guidance. I desperately wanted to send them to Faces of Loss, because that was my greatest hope after loss. But, I couldn't. Stories were not being published and I didn't want them to feel more isolated in their grief.
Back in December, I sent out an email to some fellow babyloss friends who had been volunteers for Kristin's non-profit website. I was curious about volunteering and how all that worked. I really wanted to get this thing up and working again. They sort of challenged me about volunteering myself.
I thought I couldn't. I was knee-deep in potty training and told myself that if I finally got the toddler to take action on the potty, I'd consider it. I told my friends Laura, Molly, Caroline and Brooke. They also challenged me, encouraged me and let me know they were interested in taking on equal roles with me to get those stories posted for other loss families to read and connect with; that Faces of Loss made a profound impact on them. Molly told Keleen, and she wanted in as well.
Benjamin finally potty trained (and hasn't looked back, people!). I shot the email off to Kristin about our interest to get stories up again so newer loss families could connect and create relationships like we all have. She was thrilled to have more volunteers and sent over instructions. Faces of Loss was created out of Kristin's longing for her own Stevie Joy. But like many of us, she has a very busy job and has two rainbow babies at home as well. It's her lovechild, we're just trying to nurture it.
As of Tuesday, January 27th, Faces of Loss is now up and running after 10 months of dormancy. Forty-seven stories have been published as I type this, with more in the queue. Here's to connecting families and creating lifelong friendships with people who can also say, "Me too." And please. If you would like to support and read the stories from families who have waited a long time to be connected and have their stories read, head on over and check them out. I'm sure they would appreciate some comments, words of encouragement, and maybe an email or blog visit. The site is still undergoing maintenance, so please be patient. But the most important aspect, the faces and stories are up and running! The Facebook page is even up and running again, thanks to Caroline!
Also, tell your friends, encourage them to submit their stories and submit your own!
*Our goal is to have all submissions in the current queue posted in February and all submissions to follow within a week turnaround, just as the site states. All details on how to submit are here.