I’m published. No, it’s not my women’s fiction novel…yet... I’m honored to have When Grace is Gone included in the anthology Three Minus One: Stories of Parents’ Love and Loss.
The loss of a child is unlike any other—a devastating blow that sends out a shockwave of pain and guilt that begins with the parents and reverberates through their entire community. Yet the majority of those who suffer such a loss, especially mothers, often do so in silence, convinced that their grief is theirs to bear alone. Three Minus One: Stories of Parents’ Love and Loss , edited by Sean Hanish and Brooke Warner, changes all that by allowing parents who have lost their children to stillbirth, miscarriage, and neonatal death speak out through raw essays, exquisite poems, beautiful paintings, and stunning photography—and break this poisonous silence one and for all.
Inspired by the film RETURN TO ZERO—the first Hollywood film to tackle the taboo subject of stillbirth—Three Minus One is a poignant, inspiring anthology that offers much-needed insight into the unique, shattering, and life-changing experience of losing a child.
In her poem “Executioner,” Heather Bell relates the difficulty of performing even the most mundane of tasks—a trip to the grocery store—after losing her baby: “And the baby is dead but / we need lettuce in the house, maybe some bread / for morning toast so I am at the store touching the potatoes at the spine, / the slim wrist of carrot,” the poem begins. In her essay “The Almost-Fives,” Abbie L. Smith tells of the nauseating envy she feels at seeing an acquaintance’s daughter—a child who was born just weeks before Smith’s son was stillborn. “They don’t know what that child does to me . . . and let’s not forget the effect of her mother, who has, for nearly five years, gone on to enjoy what I have lost,” she writes.
In his own story, meanwhile, co-editor Hanish describes how he’s tried to recall what he did in the moments after his wife called to tell him that his unborn son was gone—has tried to piece it into a coherent narrative—but hasn’t been able to. “You can’t glue the broken glass back together as it’s breaking,” he explains.
Groundbreaking and revelatory, Three Minus One is a soul-baring journey through love and loss—and a ray of hope for the many parents out there in search of answers, understanding, and healing.
While most of you may be more familiar with my wittier attempts at fiction, this is my heart laid bare…and barren.
My book arrived Thursday afternoon, minutes before I had to leave for work. I had just enough time to rip open the manilla envelope, trace my fingers across the cover, and flip to find my pages inside. I hadn’t let myself believe story had actually been selected, that I was to be included in such a powerful collection, until I actually saw my words in print.
They were there—just below my name. Each and every raw word.
Years after my last miscarriage, the things I’d never been able to say to others, to communicate properly—the devastation, the anger, and the guilt—had poured out of me in a torrent for no particular reason that I could discern except that it was a beautiful Sunday morning and I was finally okay with my life and it was time to let it all go.
Once the words had been freed, my soul felt pounds lighter, as if the story formed a paper lantern encouraging the spirits to drift towards the heavens—gone but never forgotten.
I posted the first version of When Grace is Gone on my blog back in 2011, and later on Blog Her. I was overwhelmed—no stunned—by the touching comments left and connection so many readers felt. I wasn’t alone. Others had been through this. Some were still mired in heartbreak. Some, like me, had waded through the devastation and made it to shore.
I can’t “review” this book. It’s haunting and heartbreakingly beautiful. The amazing pieces I’ve read so far made me set down the book and dig out the tissues. But if you’ve been through loss or miscarriage, this book may be for you. If someone you know is piecing themselves back together after shattering, this book may be for them. If you want to know what your friends or loved ones endured but just couldn’t express, this may be for you.
I know how much this mean to the writers. These aren’t just stories, they are slivers of broken hearts, and the struggles to mend them.
I’d like to thank each and every contributor for allowing us a window into their soul.
May peace be with you all.
Now, buy the book, y’all.
Three Minus One: Stories of Parents’ Love and Loss
About the movie RETURN TO ZERO:
Based on the true story from writer, director and producer Sean Hanish’s own personal experiences, Return to Zero follows the story of Maggie (Minne Driver) and Aaron (Paul Adelstein) who are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their first child. Just a few weeks before their son’s due date, Maggie and Aaron receive devastating news a heartbeat is no longer detectable in the womb.
As the couple attempt to go on with their lives, they quickly discover they cannot escape their grief and their relationship is forever changed by their loss. With infidelity and separation at their heels, Maggie discovers she is pregnant again, and the two must reunite to face another turbulent and terrifying pregnancy that tests their strength and love. The film, starring Academy Award, Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Minnie Driver, Paul Adelstein, Alfred Molina, and Connie Nielsen, debuts on Lifetime Saturday, May 17, at 8pm ET/PT.
Three Minus One