Her Birthday This Year

My body needed a release.

a birthday cake sitting on a lonely table in a large field
Image created via Midjourney

Nelle's birthday really snuck up on me this year.

Our school year started later than it usually does so it's been a whirlwind of back-to-school activities and my oldest son starting cross country.

Then this week I had some unexplained neck pain that was pretty debilitating. I spent almost two days flat on my back, unable to move much (outside of necessary work for clients). I went to the chiropractor, iced it, used a heat massage thingy I had at home, took ibuprofen... nothing seemed to work.

I cancelled most of my meetings but kept one. It was with a guy who is starting a new podcast and looking for guests. He wants to talk about pieces of media (books, articles, movies, etc.) that influenced the guest's lives.

I talked about Cheryl Strayed's Dear Sugar article for The Rumpus, with some advice she gave to a woman who felt "stuck" after her daughter was stillborn. Strayed writes (about other people) that "They live on Planet Earth. You live on Planet My Baby Died." I talked about how much the article resonated with me, feeling so alone in those early months. And how eventually I found other people who are not alone, because they are also on Planet My Baby Died.

Finding those women and joining the SHARE support group has been a significant part of my loss journey. It's why I speak so openly now about pregnancy loss, because I know other people feel alone on Planet My Baby Died. They're not alone.

Later that afternoon, I realized that my neck pain was gone. I had taken ibuprofen early that morning and not needed a second dose.

I texted a friend, calling the recovery "magic." She replied, "Maybe you broke the irritation-inflammation-tensed muscle cycle."

Her response made me think, a lot. I've been holding in a lot of stress and sadness around our missing cat. And perhaps my body was holding some anticipation around the upcoming season of grief I experience every year around Nelle's birthday.    

And talking about Nelle? Maybe that was the release I needed. My body knew.

Like almost every year, Nelle's birthday falls on Labor Day Weekend. This year ON Labor Day. We'll get a cake like we always do.

Happy birthday, baby girl. Eight years. I will always love you and always wonder who you would have been.