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October/November 2014: A Beloved Author's Loss


 Originally I had a different topic to write about for this extremely important National Infant Loss and Pregnancy month.  I had a draft written and then an event last weekend changed my mind. My youngest daughter, Lila, and I went on a mother/daughter trip to Prince Edward Island, the setting of the classic book, Anne of Green Gables written by Lucy Maud Montgomery.  It is a book that I read and loved when I was 12 and one that Lila and I read together.   There are actually 6 books about this spirited, impulsive, ambitious, lovable Anne; she is a timeless character that generation after generation of girls can relate to on many levels. Growing up, I ravenously read all 6 of the books and now Lila and I, after enjoying book number 4, made the trek to Anne’s world.
After arriving in Halifax, we drove 3 hours through hills surrounded by autumn painted trees to PEI. There we stayed in a small Inn.  The next day we went next door to where the author had lived with her grandparents and dreamed up and wrote the first book that is very autobiographical in nature.  Behind the house all the paths that the author had named and that Anne had walked along in the book, such as Lover’s Lane and The Haunted Woods, had been preserved for us to hike along. One path took us to the grave yard where the author had been buried with her husband and to where she had walked to school each day, and a third took us by variegated ferns, fir and aspen trees and by the giggling sound of the brook.

On the second day we went to the small cottage where the author had been born.  There we were told by the tour guide that Lucy Maud Montgomery had three sons and that the second son, Hugh, was stillborn!  I could not believe it. I had already admired the author and now I felt infinitely closer to her.  After that tour, we went to see a play about the characters and enjoyed lovely carriage ride along the Lake of Shining Water where the author had been married.  When we arrived back home a few days later, I immediately looked up Lucy M. and the son she lost.  His name was Hugh Alexander and he was born on August 13, 1914! That meant that he had the exact same birthday as my daughter, Margaret! Again, just as I inadvertently found Queen Anne a kindred spirit in loss, so too did I find a kindred spirit in Lucy Maud Montgomery.  So many women throughout history suffered stillbirth in silence. I am amazed that she found the voice to give him a name when that was not encouraged at that time.  Ms. Montgomery was a writer like me and she also, like me, kept a journal about her sad feelings and bouts of depression after losing her sweet baby, Hugh.

 Montgomery had a prolific prose and poetry writing career, yet after losing her own mother at the very young age of two, she always demonstrated that being a mother was the most important role in her life.   I think she would agree with all of us that whether our children are here with us or above us in heaven, that being their mother for eternity is our most sacred and proud role.
During the rest of this important month of recognizing Infant and Pregnancy Loss, I hold hands with all my kindred spirits of loss and break the silence because life and death are part of life and therefore always part of us.