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This is the only picture I’ve shared publicly with Poppy. I’ll share every heartbreaking thought and feeling but for some reason her image is sacred, just for me and Eli.

Where does a mother start when it’s 4:00am and she finds herself awake, alone, and realizing it’s been 5 years since her first child was born?

I knew this day was coming but wasn’t sure how I’d manage it this year. The beginning of October was an emotional rollercoaster, and now 25 days in, the tides of life have swept me in and I haven’t been thinking as much about Poppy’s birth anniversary.

Do you know that stillborn babies in Washington State are not entitled to a birth certificate? Only days after her birth, Eli and I found ourselves needing to pick up Poppy’s death certificate. I can’t remember now why we needed it. Was it for the cremation? We didn’t belong in that office. …

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It’s been a long time since I’ve posted to Medium. So long I had to ask for a login email. So long that my last new follower was from May. And that’s ok, I’ve been working on other things — my memoir, an online handbook for grief, my coaching and direct sales business, mothering my 2 year old, navigating the pandemic.

But it’s October, and I find myself feeling deep and lonely feelings that I haven’t felt in a long time. Feelings that take my breath away.

Just now, I’m sitting in my backyard with my laptop in an Adirondack chair. The sun is soft and warm. We are enjoying an Indian Summer in the Pacific Northwest. Our fire pit, made of random bricks, rocks and stone is filled with fresh ash. Last night we burned a fire in honor of my father. …

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A delicate sunset captured on New Years Day 2020

I am sitting alone in a quiet café, the sun unexpectedly shining on my face. It’s an unfamiliar but welcome feeling. It’s been a dark grey and very wet winter here in the Pacific Northwest. This one hit me harder than any other.

I just left an emotional appointment with my acupuncturist. I started seeing her almost a year ago to deal with pain related to a car accident I was in September 2018. …

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Embracing One Another. Photo Credit Emma Milner

Today would be Poppy’s 4th birthday. October 26, 2015 was the gloomiest day of my life. The Universe opened a portal for my daughter’s spirit that day. She was born. She was dead. Back into the pool of the Unknown.

I relate to Poppy as my spirit guide for over 3 years now. She isn’t God, but she is proof that God exists and God is love and all things return to Love. She symbolizes the wheel of life and death. She was fully formed. She lived inside of me for 280 days. She breathed my amniotic fluid and absorbed nutrients from my blood. …

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The Live Oak Underneath Which My Father’s Ashes Were Scattered.

It was just before my father’s death in February that I last wrote on my blog. Four months have passed and life keeps blazing on. With him and without him. He is here. Aren’t you, Daddy? It’s like with Poppy, my dearly departed firstborn. And every other loved one you held dear. They are all here — when we call upon them the spirit awakens.

As soon as we all decided to fly home to see Daddy one last time, I scoured my old letters box and found multiple hand-written letters from him to me.

He wrote on white, unlined printer paper. Whenever he had a moment at work, he would pour out his heart a little bit and remind me how much he loved me, how proud he was of me, and how he missed me. Thank you for doing that, Daddy. …

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Sunset in Winter

Tonight I bought a flight home to see my dad for the last time. He’s dying. His spirit is strong but his body is giving in. My father was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2003 just a few weeks before I was set to graduate from college.

I remember the morning he called to tell me he had cancer. He was 55 years old. I was devastated and shaken and immediately assumed the worst. He’s going to die. But he didn’t. He sought treatment and had surgery and got radiation. …

Happy Birthday Poppy Annabelle

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It had been a while since I’d cried myself to sleep, but last night I nearly did. As I crawled into bed I couldn’t help but remember that 3 years ago I went into labor with our baby Poppy. What happened to us only hours later at the hospital, when we found out Poppy no longer had a heartbeat, was unfathomable. We were devastated.

I have a few pictures of Poppy stored on my cell phone. Last night as tears streamed down my face, I picked up my phone and found my favorite — swaddled in a receiving blanket, tiny white crocheted hat, and her sweet face. I’ve never publicly shared a picture of Poppy. She was beautiful, but I can’t bring myself to expose her that way. …

I was in a rollover car accident this afternoon. I was driving home from therapy on Boren Avenue when a car blew through a red light at the James Street intersection and hit the passenger side of my CRV.

It all happened so fast. My car spun to the right and then for reasons I still don’t understand, it flipped over. I never lost consciousness. I was upside down surrounded by broken glass and airbags. I heard people almost immediately outside calling into me. Are you ok? “I think so,” I called back. Are you alone? “Yes!” …

I am finally the mother I always knew I would be.

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My Sweet Moxie

It’s a gorgeous Memorial Day here in Seattle. I’m out with Moxie enjoying the sun and live music at The Folklife Festival. She’s asleep in the stroller, unfettered by the music. Earlier we danced together to a brass band. I held her high in the air and we smiled at one another, eyes locked, hearts melting.

I am deeply in love with her. Something clicked a little over a month ago. I imagine it’s a combination of things — I’m getting more sleep; she’s developing her personality; and, we have fun together. Maybe it’s the way she wraps her arms around my neck and smears wet open mouthed kisses on my face. …

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I started this blog in May 2016 as a way to process grief after my first daughter Poppy was stillborn. A little over a year ago, I shifted focus to include my experience of pregnancy after loss. Today, I’m blessed with a healthy baby girl and like all new moms, I’m adjusting to the emotional, physical, and spiritual ups and downs of motherhood.

My daughter Moxie was born last October and on numerous occasion since then I have felt conflicted by my emotions. …

About

Katie Duke

I write about love, grief, forgiveness, and healing to honor my daughters Poppy and Moxie. I work as a life coach and I’m writing a memoir. dukelifecoaching.com

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