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Jessica Latshaw's Top Content
Luca Thomas Taormina May 17th, 2017 . The nurses keep asking my pain scale from 0-10. They are so kind, so caring. They don't ask about my heart, though; there is no number for how it feels. I don't know how to do this. Another whole mountain to climb. It's grief and loss, and I suppose I start here and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Today we left the hospital without our baby boy. I couldn't do it; I had to do it. We are alone in our grief; we are also surrounded by family who flew here, who drove here, who came as soon as they heard the news. God, every part of my body aches for him. And at the same time, I'm smiling for my precious Charlee because she's asking me, "Mama, where did your smile go?" Our Luca is doing well; he is with God. We are not doing as well, but we trust that we will be okay. This is what God does: he is close to the broken hearted; he heals us. We miss our son with everything that makes up us. It is not natural to bury your baby. It is not okay to say good-bye at the very same moment you get to say hello. It's part of our story, though, and our son makes our story even more precious. He was perfect, with ten fingers and toes, and a little round nose like his sister. I had 35 sacred weeks with him--weeks that I would never trade, not even to escape this present pain. Luca, your mama loves you. That is the beginning of this story and that is the end. Love. I'm just heartbroken over the fact that we don't get to spend more time together here on earth. It's not the same without you.
| May 19, 2017
Friends booked me a hair appointment. "For whenever you're ready," they tell me, kindly. "Does he know about me?" I ask, so I know what to expect, so I know if a stranger will greet me with "I'm sorry" or not. "Just that we love you." I arrive at the salon and watch my stylist hug his client, saying good-bye like old friends. I realize a lot more than hair gets taken care of in this place. He has the kind of glorious beard that our hippie dads could only dream of and I like him immediately. I settle in a chair and he runs his fingers through my hair. "Is it dumb if I want bangs?" I ask, mentioning how the last guy I saw wouldn't cut them, saying it's too hot. "But nobody has ever died of heat exhaustion because of bangs," I add. I don't mention he also said I was too pregnant for big changes. Big changes. Like I was trying to move to Vegas or contemplating a military cut. At least that wouldn't be too hot in the summer, I guess. Jason, my stylist, says he will be right back and nonchalantly hands me a brush. He doesn't say anything about the tangles in my hair that I'd been unaware of until now and makes no comparisons to stray dogs. I like him even more now. "I think bangs are a great idea," he says, returning with scissors. He grabs the hair in front of my eyes and cuts it right off--"before you can change your mind." I like the way he not only agrees with me, but makes it happen, too. TJ does that all the time. It's a good way to love someone. I wasn't planning on saying much, but when he tells me about his divorce, I'm like, Oh, he gets it. So we swap details and now there's foils in my hair and empathy in our words. It's one thing to share scars and an entirely other thing to reveal a wound. But I tell him about my Luca, because it's safe. He takes a deep breath. "When?" he asks. "They couldn't find his heartbeat six weeks ago today." It's easy to tell him everything and by the time we're admiring his finished work, the guard I'd walked in with is on the floor with my hair. He walks me downstairs and I thank him. As we hug, he quietly says, "Life is dogshit," and I laugh because sometimes it is. Also, I will definitely be back.
| June 28, 2017
I grew up on stories like Rapunzel and Cinderella. I realize that stories in which a woman is stuck in a lonely tower or enslaved by a dysfunctional family until a man comes along and saves her is not the most empowering narrative. But the part about the lonely tower or dysfunctional family being part of, but not the *end* of the story—I like that. And don’t worry, my parents also raised me on stories like Esther and Ruth—women whose courage saved and changed generations to follow—so, you know, Disney. The Bible. A healthy mix. I read these stories never knowing that I’d have a dramatic story of my own someday. That I’d see life from my own tower, one of shame and despair, as my young marriage fell apart, my husband having chosen someone else, my heart broken. But I don’t think Disney always gets it right. I think sometimes the girl climbs out of the tower. She tells the people who enslave her that they need to find someone else. And, um, pay them. I think if I’d stayed where the pain had left me, I never would have met my person. Or as Disney would say, my Prince Charming. I’m so grateful for the people who showed me a ladder down that tower. So grateful for a God who always makes a ladder in the first place. Words fail when I describe to you the wonder of discovering this beautiful world I’ve seen with my eyes, felt with my heart, since that long climb down. TJ, thank you for meeting me outside the tower. Thank you for thinking I’m even more beautiful because I can describe what our world looks like from within the tower. When I think about Mary Oliver’s famous question, “...What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” The answer has never been so clear as now, when I’m standing next to you. Whatever this is, let’s keep doing it. Happy four years; let’s do this forever.
| November 10, 2017
Today was long. We left my parents' house at 10:45 this morning and didn't get home until 6:15 tonight. We got to the airport a little early and then our flight was delayed, making that cute little cushion of extra time an endless swamp of too much time. But my girl did great. We found a few stickers and a whole lot of imagination, making boarding time come in a hurry. But then there was the business of actually being on that cramped airplane. The flight attendant doesn't care if you're two and just want to sit on your mama's lap. "In her seat with her seatbelt on," she said firmly, with all the nurturing warmth of a droid. By the time we landed, Charlee was in an understandably terrible mood. She wouldn't wear her backpack, wouldn't even walk. When TJ picked us up, she didn't want to hug and kiss him and barely acknowledged his presence. "Charlee-girl," I said as we stopped for dinner, "Mama is tired from carrying you and our bags all day, so if you want to be carried, dada will do it." Ensue screaming. A face crumpled in abject horror as only a toddler can do. That was the scene before we finally got home, when Charlee and I walked right into a Peppa pig themed surprise party. She was ecstatic and I started crying, because, guys, that's love. While Charlee was being downright miserable towards TJ, he was literally planning a surprise party for her. And not just any party, one with only Charlee in mind. One designed to make her come alive, down to the sparkly pink balloon ("Sparkly pink, not regular pink," Charlee will specify when you ask about her favorite color). As I walked Luna tonight, I kept thinking of that beautiful scene colliding with Charlee's rotten attitude and changing the atmosphere: it's a perfect metaphor for the grace of God in my life. Also, man, I married right.
| July 8, 2017
We're on a boat. A duck boat. Aka Charlee's dream come true✔️
| May 31, 2017
YOU GUYS. He's playing the drums. Bruno Mars just won the
52 months ago
"I'M A WET BABY!" Charlee yells to me and TJ between squeals of laughter while running in and out of the fountains. Summer in the city is the absolute best. And she's a wonderful kind of contagious; I can't help but laugh with her. There is so much joy in these moments and I'm a grateful mama. Then we're walking home from the T, and we run into one of our midwives. "How are you guys?" she says, asking the obvious question. "I started therapy today," I blurt out, needing to let her know that I'm not okay but I'm working on being okay. She nods and we talk about how it's hard but there's Charlee so we have to be present and that's a good thing and a hard thing all at once. I tell her that sometimes I cry in front of Charlee and we talk about being sad and how sadness is an okay thing to feel. Then we segue into how close we live to each other, and how we never knew it. You know, just the things you say after your baby has died. No, I'm kidding. I don't think there's a list. There's nothing normal about this. And just like it's okay to feel sad, it's okay to talk about grieving your child and then come up for air with a lighter topic like LOOK HOW CLOSE WE LIVE!--all in the same breath. I mean, you just can't stay in the deep waters forever. You dive as much as you need to, but eventually you come back to a place where you can stand. Tomorrow is my birthday and I'm deciding now with you, dear internet, as my witness, to be brave. Because Charlee is very excited and has already told me she has gotten me a toy monkey, a peppa pig robe, and brand new play dough (all of which sounds suspiciously like her wish list, but whatever). How am I so lucky, guys? She's also been singing HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MAMA! for about 24 hours now, so the least I can do is smile and act happy about it. TJ, too, loves me like I've never been loved before and who am I to deny him celebrating the girl he loves. Again: how am I so lucky? I don't think I will answer the phone tomorrow--phone calls are exhausting on good days, and absolutely overwhelming now--but I will certainly thank God for this gift of life and all these relationships that have changed the shape of my heart for the better.
| June 3, 2017
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