Losing my “Dad” and son in the same week.

In June of 2017 it was an incredibly hot summer in California, especially warmer for a myself being I was in my third trimester. My partner and I were tying up all the loose ends: getting the baby’s car seat set up in my car, cleaning up around the house, organizing and washing his clothes, and all of the exciting (and not so exciting) pre-baby rituals expecting parents do. June 11th was my monster-in-laws birthday, so along with my partner, his brother, and his brothers wife we went over and had brunch with his mom to celebrate her and spend time together. During that time, my little sister called to tell me my grandfather had a stroke. My grandfather was a 79 year old man who was a strong, brawny, protective, lion-hearted type of man. He took the role as my father as soon as he saw me, and since cutting my umbilical cord we have been kindred spirits and best friends up until the day he died. The week following his stroke I spent everyday with him, reading to him, holding his hand, telling him stories, being there as much as I could. Saying goodbye to my big, strong grandpa was something I naively thought I’d never really have to do.

A week after my grandpa passed, I went into the hospital because something just wasn’t right. Every morning while laying on my side, I would slide my hand to the underside of my belly to feel his good morning kicks. That morning there were no kicks. After two nurses took turns calmly holding back tears, looking for a heartbeat to no avail, a midwife came in to confirm and to show me on ultrasound that his heart was no longer beating. My grandpa died on Tuesday, the 20th of June in 2017, and then seven days later, at 37 weeks pregnant, I was told my son no longer had a heartbeat, on Tuesday the 27th, and he was stillborn the following day. My aunt, who was a nurse at the hospital I delivered at, warned me to be prepared because a body starts to decompose very soon after demise. Nothing prepares you to see your baby for the first and only time that way. Nonetheless, he was perfect. He was still mine, he was still ours, he was still our little boy, only he was completely STILL. He looked like an angel, a perfect mix of myself and my partner, 21 inches long, just under 6 pounds – perfection. And he had so much hair, curly like his Momma and dark brown like Daddy. Perfect locks of curly hair. I dream of the day when I will see him again, and will finally be able to run my fingers through his dark curly hair.

Maya’s handprints

“You are gone but thank you for these soft, sweet things, you have left behind in my home, in my head, in my heart..”

Nikita Gill

2 years later, I am still heartbroken. I still have days where I feel so bitter and envious of the people around me(and that is okay). Losing two of my great loves, a week apart from each other, made it hard to know who I was grieving for. I was consumed by so much sadness all at once, I sort of “zombied” my way through life for awhile. I had a lot of bad days. I had days where I drank a six pack after work and then spent the night drunk screaming and crying. I had days where I sat in my negative space and did not let anything else in (don’t recommend). I don’t need to be a perfect success story of “life after loss.” Nothing about this process is perfect, and I know Maya and my Grandpa would be proud of how I am doing. I especially thank Maya everyday for the monumental mark he left on my life. He taught me love. Love that I never thought possible, tenderness I never knew I was capable of. He taught me to slow down and smell the roses, to really take in a beautiful day by enjoying the present moment. And I try to, as much as I can, to visualize my Grandpa holding and playing with Maya. I know they would of really loved each other.

A picture I took of my grandpa at his favorite beach (and where his ashes were spread) when I was 14.