Tuesday, September 4, 2007

danse macabre

Last September, I was 21 weeks pregnant with twins. One of the twins had just died and the other was dying. As it turned out, she would live for another month, live to be born, and live for four hours after that. But last September, when the doctors were telling me, "there's still a very good chance," I knew I had nothing to look forward to.

In medieval art, a common motif was the danse macabre, a swaying line of figures holding hands, the living alternating with grinning skeletons. The symbolism was easy to understand. A shadow falls across the feasting-table at every banquet. In the midst of life, we are in death. And curling tightly round my fingers were small hands made of bone, one on either side.

40 comments:

Phantom Scribbler said...

(o)

Katie W said...

Sounds odd, but I hope you understand what I'm trying to say...
those little hands are always going to be there, the pain will get less, and one day there will hopefully be a living one joining them.

Furrow said...

How horrible to feel that you know what's coming and then to be right about it. I wish you'd been wrong.

Christine said...

i never seem to have the right words lately. . . . like furrow said, i wish there was another ending to this sad story.

Magpie said...

I'm sorry, for you and for those little people.

Beruriah said...

I hope this September will bring you continued healing, and hope.

Elizabeth said...

It's true... the danse macabre makes visible what our society tries to deny, deny, deny - the reality of death.

The image you evoke is so intimate, so chilling, and so sad. Because of the love that is there.

Suz said...

Maybe this is why I studied medieval literature for so long, that there was something so compelling about the constant acknowledgement of death. Rather than banishing it to the outer reaches, as our culture seems to do, the folks who lived during the middle ages had no choice but to dance.

That Mommy said...

(o)

slouching mom said...

sometimes i haven't got the words, niobe, except to say that i'm here and i'm reading.

i wish, deeply so, that things had turned out differently.

Artblog said...

I hate September too, for soooooo many reasons. It also happens to be my birthday, nice huh?!

HUGS :(

XXX

painted maypole said...

i appreciate the opposite forces in effect in the dance macabre imagery, the living and the dead, the dancing that still goes on, the joy amongst the grief...

S. said...

Reading, thinking of you, wishing it were easier on the heart.

Caro said...

So sorry things didn't turn out differently.

missedconceptions said...

I will forever associate Yom Kippur as the day I found out about my first miscarriage (via ultrasound). I will remember it that way for the rest of my life, I am sure, but hopefully it will come to hurt much less.

Those little hands, as someone said above, will always be there, too. It is part of who we are now. The dance macabre is a part of life.

MB said...

So, so true. Life is such a crazy mix of pleasure and pain it's a wonder any of us know which end is up.

Hugs.

Lori said...

I'm so sorry...

September and October are poignant for me as well. The months I last had them with me, and the month when we said good bye.

I wish both of our stories had very different endings. My heart is with you.

Brenda said...

Thats just horrible to know deep down there is no hope.

Huge hugs
xxx

The Oneliner (Christina) said...

life is awfully horrible sometimes. i can't think of many things happening to someone than what happened to you.
i am so sorry.

missing_one said...

The scene in my head of your little one's fingers curled around yours is truly haunting.
Thinking of you on your anniversaries.

My Reality said...

I have no words. . .

Casey said...

(o)

mkv said...

It stinks how the fall months hold those kind of memories...I understand.

Charles said...

My eldest daughter would turn 36 in 6 days had she lived betond three weeks. The pain never goes away. Sorry to share that with you. But by now I think you are understanding more and more the loss of a child is beyond the power of words to describe.

Please accept my sharing your pain.

ms. G said...

Wish I had some wonderful words for you, Niobe. Just know I am thinking of you and the twins.

Ms. Planner said...

I am thinking of you and wishing you strength and peace throughout this most auspicious and difficult anniversary. I am sorry that my words cannot express how sorrowful I feel for you right now.

Julia said...

I have a picture of A's little hand in mine. It's the one I most think of, of the few that we have. So much promise, so irreversibly gone, frozen in time. I can't remember Monkey's little baby hand in mine anymore, each previous day's image of it replaced in the new day by crossing the road, or cutting fingernails, or monkeying around. But A's hand is tiny forever. Forever with me.

I am sorry.

wannabe mom said...

how difficult that was to share. i am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful twins. thinking of you, and all of us mommies.

Monica said...

Whatever you are feeling, I'm here to feel it with you. So sorry.

M said...

The inevitability of knowing what is to come, that there is nothing to look forward to - cannot be described.

We will danse with you

stat763 said...

Niobe -I am so sorry. As another poster said, we are all dancing with you. My due date was Sept 16, the first day of Rosh Hashana in 2004.

AJW5403 said...

If only we could just skip certain months. But then again would that really make it better.

meg said...

2 Septembers ago, I was 20 weeks pregnant with my twins. As M says, that inevitability of what is to come, is something that surely cannot be described. It's something that many of us commenting here know. I'm sorry, Niobe...this is my hard time of year too.

thirtysomething said...

I cannot imagine your pain, Niobe. I too am so sorry.

Yankee T said...

I'm so sorry, Niobe.

Bon said...

it is strange, in this day and age, to be aware of ourselves intertwined with those little hands of bone...for that to be a self-image that resonates. and yet, for me, it does, powerfully so.

it fits, in some ways, how i think of this mini-community, those of us who have lost children and have found each other with our words, out here. we all have our own dance, particular and perhaps macabre to the outside view. and somehow, taken all together, there is a coherence to the picture that my own place and viewpoint in it do not afford.

but still...i wish last September had found you a different picture to be in, as i wish for all of us.

Sunny said...

Hugs! I hate how we remember the dates but would hate if I forgot them.

Emily said...

Oh, my goodness. Oh.

LawMommy said...

I know you probably don't want to hear one more person express that they are sorry. But, every time I am reminded of the deep and awful truth of all that you have lost...I am that - sorry. So very sorry. I wish I had other words to say...something more meaningful - but all my words seem too small. And sorry is the only word I seem to know when I read this.

That you are able to express your loss with such description astonishes me - your words, your words are really powerful. You conjure images that haunt me.

G

Angel Mom said...

I'm sorry. September just sucks.