Our church creates an altar of remembrance the first Sunday of every November. We are asked to bring photos of those gone before us, to grieve together as a collective body of souls trying to understand this world and our place in it. I have neatly packaged away my grief over the children I never met, the ones who left us with fetal death papers and holes in our hearts to fill the space we had created for a child’s face. With two living children, children who outstrip every amazing fantasy I had ever entertained about the magic of creating human life, it feels selfish to grieve for too long, or too often, for the ones who did not join us with breath.
But on the first Sunday in November we are invited to grieve. Dave and I can hold hands in our seats, letting our cathartic tears leak from our eyes as we remember that we spent his 23 birthday deciding what to do with the remains of the almost little one whom I had already decided to name Atticus. My heart breaks for my dream of a large family my body could not create for us. We grieve, unabashed. I leave the Kleenex at the door and allow my tears to fall. I don’t hide them, I own them and their place in my life, our life, and our history. And when the service was complete, the altar full of photos and mementos, I wiped away my sorrow and embraced my love as we collected our children.