Joy is the giggly giver of happiness, smiles, and laughter. Ahh, laughter, my all-time favorite sport… and I think I am pretty darn good at it too. I could earn trophies for the following laughing events:
Loudest Laugh – Sounds like a megaphone roar
Longest Laugh – The funny moment replays in a loop, resulting in 70,000 minutes of hilarity
Crying Laugh – A transition from the longest laugh, ending in heaving moans, eye spillage, and remnants of giggles.
Nervous Laugh – Pretending to get the joke
Post-Humorous Laugh – Finally getting the joke
Mirror-Length Laugh – Laughing at your own jokes as if a true comedian were in you presence
Har-de-Har Laugh – Filled with sarcasm over a non-funny incident. Moms and teachers often participate in this event.
Beyond laughing, it makes me even happier when I can induce others to join in the merriment. I’m on a constant mission to find more light in this wacky world and share it with you. I love telling funny stories.
So why did I write “Nursery Chimes,” a short story about a family confronting and navigating the heartbreak of lost expectations when a baby is born still?
It’s hard to pinpoint, but over five years ago, I learned about a local couple whose full-term pregnancy ended this way. They had to leave the hospital without their child, and even though I barely knew them, I couldn’t stop thinking about them. I personally know others who have battled infertility as well as those who have had unsuccessful pregnancies or lost their babies due to complications and medical mysteries that still happen in 2020.
Although my husband and I never experienced these tragic heartaches, and we are currently raising two healthy teenage daughters, I felt deeply compelled to write about a family’s loss and how they navigated it. But how was I qualified to write this? What did I know? Could I actually learn enough through conversations and research? Since I was an outsider to this type of tragedy, would I have the right words to connect with, uplift, and serve an audience of insiders? Would I be able to give respectful exposure of a silenced topic to the outsiders?
After reading an article in the New York Times, “Stillbirth, Your Stories,” several fictional chapters flowed out of me. The words on the page poured forth organically with little plotting from me. I discovered the soul for my protagonist through a courageous memoir by award winning novelist Elizabeth McCracken: An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination in which she writes, “This is the happiest story in the world with the saddest ending.” McCracken narrates her own story for Audible and relays how she confronted the grief of her son being stillborn. Other books that helped me find the words for this piece are God’s Child Andrew by Sandra Johnson; Empty Arms by Sherokee Ilse; On Death and Dying by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross; and Baby Dust by Deanna Roy.
In “Nursery Chimes,” I was pleased with my characters, voice, and style but kept doubting the major plot conflict, yet I couldn’t stop my fingers from typing the draft. I feared I wouldn’t have the expertise to finish, so I nervously took these chapters to my read and critique group and received ample feedback to forge ahead. Two group members admitted their own similar infant complications and believed “Nursery Chimes” carried enough realism and empathy to elevate and memorialize tiny, lost heartbeats.
I strove to balance the darkest scenes with lighter moments, even dabs of humor. Life continues while we suffer our individual tragedies, and it will be impossible to show up for the the next twenty-four hours the same way you did yesterday, but each day has the potential to encourage hope, dreams, joy, and relief.
In all of the stillborn stories that I’ve listened to and read, I am amazed by the mammoth reserves of strength grieving families pull from to keep living, loving, and remembering the souls that soared so soon. Each tragic loss shines light on how people cope, grow, and laugh again, all while keeping hope, love, and memories eternal.
You can find “Nursery Chimes” by D.S. Lucas in the third volume of the Australia Burns Anthology a charitable publication in which all proceeds go to the Red Cross to aid in the recovery of the devastation of the Australian Wildfires.
You can read more about the Australia Burns Anthology in my previous blog: Australia Burns: an anthology of donated stories from those who care.
Please share any constructive comments you have on my treatment of this subject in “Nursery Chimes.” Hoping that you can find healing, hope, and laughter today, tomorrow, and forever. Shine on!