Smoke.

I was sitting on a log. It was fucking huge, my feet didn’t touch the floor. I was rubbing dirt off the top of one shoe with the other. It wasn’t coming off of course, it was rubbing in, spreading through the cheap fabric and leaving a dirty smug smear across my toes.

We were in a copse of trees near the top of what was now a dirt bike track. It hadn’t always been, it wasn’t purpose built and with the years of mud and leaves caked to everything it was impossible to tell if those were mud ramps that had been built or just a bit of hilly wasteland conveniently grown over, smoothed out and then carpeted with last years canopy.

There was half of a two litre plastic green bottle taped to a bread bag leaning against a stump opposite. The tinfoil glinted in the sun, brown and gold where it had been burned, filmed with a fine black soot. The light bounced off the crushed cans and bottle tops half buried in the leaves. A lung. Huge great bags of yellow green smoke, whip the tinfoil off and then -zip! It would be gone. We would watch expectantly, for one of two outcomes. Either that wall of grey fog would emerge from that mouth like a great sigh, almost silent. Or he’d dissolve into a coughing fit while half of us pissed ourselves laughing and someone quipped “you know, coughing gets you higher anyway.”

It was baking hot. Admittedly, here in the trees out of the glare it was bearable, except for the swarms of midges, and every now and then a kid on a bmx would fly past with a generous breeze following close behind. I was watching Ant roll. He was wearing an adidas trackie that looked too big for him. I could never tell if it was intentional or he was just too skinny. He was proud of his rolling. We were all about fourteen, buying little eigths of soap bar for £15, perfecting rolling techniques over the shittest gear you can imagine. We were kids, we didn’t know any better. We grew up fast.

I was staring down a tiny path between the trees opposite. There was a low chain link fence one side, smothered with ivy and starting to sag. There were paving stones but they were buried deep by now. Beyond the tree line the sun beat against the windows of the old psychiatric hospital, long empty, long forgotten. We always talked about going in there, we never did. Where we grew up it wasn’t always the best idea to poke about in empty buildings, no matter how fascinating they were. You never knew who else was using it.

It was there, next to me. In an outstretched hand. My first joint. I was nervous. Would she like me?

I’d planned for this for ages, I knew I couldn’t drink – I’d be caught from the off and my dad would batter me, but this wasn’t the same. Most people just sort of looked and acted the same, if they really wanted to. Maybe this was something I could get away with. Maybe this could be my secret rebellion.

I took it, and I put it between my lips, and I drew in. It didn’t taste of tar, or diesel, or pigs blood or any of the other shit I’d heard went into it. It tasted of earth. Maybe a bit of plastic. But not terrible. The smoke seeped out my nose. Where before the sun had seemed hot and angry, now it was warm and inviting. The buzz of noise behind me dulled and gave way to a tiny fizz in my head that I probably imagined. There seemed to be a thin film covering my eyes, everything slightly hazy, just a little too far away.

We walked back to the estate as the sun was going down in the late evening. The city at the bottom of the hill was just beginning to twinkle with lights, and the giant cranes Samson and Goliath towering out of Belfast Lough blinked steadily into the growing dark. It was still hot, the baked pavement made my trainers soft as I swayed down the dual carriageway. I knew I was getting away with it.

I walked into the house. Mum was on the computer, dad was writing some sermon, or reading one – as he did over and over again. I glided up the stairs, a smile played on my lips. The bedroom door shut.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5…

 

Nothing.
I grinned to myself, on my bed, and hugged my knees. I ran a bath, I smiled to myself. I hummed while I washed my hair. I was in love, for the first time.

A few months had passed and still nobody was onto me. Except for my little sister, who had the same group of friends and wouldn’t have dobbed me in anyway.

I had a foster sister by then, Mariam. She went to my sisters school, her mum had kicked her out one night so she had come to ours and then never really left. She robbed us blind, and everyone since by the sounds of things, but I’ll always have a fondness for her.

I was out with her, we were pissing about by the white church round the corner. She’d been chased out of there the week before for breaking in and messing with the communion, but it was pretty regular to be honest. We’d sit on the steps and smoke, wait to see who turned up. This time it was some kids off the estate that I didn’t know, but she knew them, and they offered her a lung.

They made one, she hoofed it. They made one, they hoofed it. My turn. And then came the greenest, thickest, dirtiest looking cloud of smoke I had ever seen. It swam in the bottle, a sickly fog. I swallowed. I felt sick already. I hoofed it. Ten minutes later, I needed a lie down.

I lay on the step, with the cool concrete against my face, listening to them piss themselves laughing, and I gave not one solitary fuck. As long as I lay there, on the step, everything was going to be fine. As long as nobody moved me, they could laugh all they wanted. Maybe I fell asleep, maybe they left, but the next thing I knew Mariam was pulling me up and telling me we had to walk home. I was ok, I was just high. Really, beyond a fucking joke, high.

I couldn’t believe she was making me walk home like that. My legs were jelly, I lived about two minutes away. There was not going to be a recovery. I was not going to bounce back in time. We rounded the corner into the street, and I dragged my concrete feet as slowly as I possibly could. We got to the garden path, by now my vision was fucked, everything was blurry and the colour was off.

I looked down, I was on my hands and knees in the porch. My mums feet were next to me.

“Are you ok?”

I must’ve fallen over the front step. My knee hurt. I couldn’t remember getting down there. I stood up, brushed off my knees. Swooned.

“Yeah.” I said and pushed past, trying to get to the safety and warmth of my bedroom. I knew, if I could just make it there, everything would be fine.

I walked up the stairs, it felt oddly mechanical – my body doing things I didn’t feel in a state to control. I got halfway.

“Somebody phoned for you before.”

A pause. She knew I’d have to turn.

I turned.

“What have you been smoking?”

Fuck.

Fuck.

Fuck.

“I think you’d better go to your room. I’m going to have to speak to your dad.”

FUUUCKKK.

What seemed like hours passed before my dad called me downstairs. I had perked up a bit but I must’ve looked white as a sheet. More than anything I was starving.

By this time my parents marriage, unbeknownst to us, was starting to fall apart. Dad didn’t hit us like he used to, he still got angry but it was mostly things that got in his way now. He had other things to be mad about than whatever shit we were up to. Still, I was as terrified of him as ever. He shouted, he tried to instil in me the very real danger of drugs and how they could consume and destroy my life and everyone else’s simultaneously.
I was high, I wasn’t listening, I was just glad he wasn’t screaming. I was just glad I wasn’t flinching, I don’t think I’d have had it in me to duck anyway.

He calmed. Breathed out through the nose. Pressed his lips into a firm line, and then he said something to me that did not register until almost ten years later. He said, “I think you’d better go and have something to eat.”

Even my dad, the baptist, the Puritan, the Calvinist. Even he had had the munchies.

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Constance.

People seem to have this idea that you can only be a successful socialist if you’re born and bred working class. You can only understand class struggle if you’ve had to suffer it, you can only fight oppression if you’re oppressed. History tells us that’s bollocks, socialists come from all walks of life – and necessarily, or how could we begin to understand the complexities of our society with only one vantage point? 

Constance Markievicz was not working class. In fact she was the daughter of the Arctic explorer Sir Henry Gore-Booth and Lady Georgina Gore-Booth. They held land of 39 square miles, they were well off, and yet the stereotypes we often apply to the upper classes did not fit so snugly there. During the famine Gore-Booth provided food for the tenants on his Sligo estate free of charge. At a time when thousands were starving and dying, desperately clamouring onto ships to escape the genocide, Gore-Booth was instilling in his daughters a deep concern for the working class which would shape the rest of their lives.

Constance wanted to study to be a painter, though there was only one school in Dublin accepting female students. Already Constance was pushing firmly against the agenda that had been laid out for her, and was determining to carve out her own way regardless of accepted social norms and standards. Attending an art school in London was where Constance first became involved with the National Union of Women’s Suffragette Societies. 

By 1903 Constance had married and birthed a daughter, and was accepted as a renowned landscape artist. Now living in Dublin with her family, she was a cornerstone in the founding of the United Artists Club. This was a group for artists and writers to socialise and support each other, and whilst its main aims were the preservation of Irish language and culture, it attracted members from all walks of life, not least those with strong revolutionary ideals. In this club Constance was able to mingle with peers from both sides of the nationalist argument, which surely laid the foundation for her future in politics.

In 1906 Constance rented a cottage in the Dublin countryside, where she found that the previous tenant, a poet named Padraic Colum, had left behind manuscripts of a revolutionary journal entitled “The Peasant and Sinn Feinn.” It was the reading of these materials promoting independence from the British that spurred Constance into action. This was arguably the most pivotal period in Constance’s young life – a move from a mother, a suffragette and a painter to a daughter of Ireland, a sworn freedom fighter. 
Constance joined both Sinn Fein and the Daughters of Ireland in 1907 and thus began to involve herself consciously in nationalist politics. Constance attended her first meeting dressed in a ballgown and tiara having come straight from a function at Dublin Castle. The hostility which met her as a result was a breath of fresh air, and no longer treated regally as “Countess” Constance found herself able to relax and focus on the important issues.

Having campaigned against Churchill with her sister and the suffragettes in Manchester, Constance returned to Ireland and founded the Fianna Éireann, a nationalist scouts organisation that instructed teenage boys and girls in the use of firearms. Patrick Pearse later said that the creation of Fianna Éireann was as important as the creation of the Irish Volunteers in 1913.

Constance was first jailed in 1911 after speaking to a crowd of 30,000 at a meeting of the Irish Republican Brotherhood protesting the visit of the King, having also taken part in stone-throwing at the Kings image and the burning of the British flag. Despite her upbringing and her personal financial situation, Constance was more than prepared to lay down her freedom, and even her life for freedom and equality in Ireland. She was later quoted as saying, “I would welcome the King of England over here on a visit. But while Ireland is not free I remain a rebel unconverted and unconvertible. There is no word strong enough for it. I am pledged as a rebel, an unconvertible rebel, because I am pledged to the one thing—a free and independent Republic.”

Constance later compounded this when she joined James Connolly’s Irish Citizen Army. This was formed to protect demonstrating workers from the police. Constance sold all of her jewellery and borrowed money wherever she could in order to feed this small volunteer force, as well as running and financing a soup kitchen to feed poor school children. Constance had discovered already that the success of the lowest and most unfortunate was the success of the whole, she poured every cent, even drop of blood sweat and tears into the cause, and she fought with every ounce of strength she could muster. 

Constance is often quoted as saying “Dress suitably in short skirts and strong boots, leave your jewels in the bank and buy a revolver.” She knew, this was a country on the brink of war. This was not the time for displays of affluence and partying. This was a time to arm, to prepare, to be ready for the long night ahead.

In 1916 Constance took part in the Easter Uprising where she shot and injured a British sniper. Following with great admiration the direction of James Connolly, Constance fought bravely and along with her comrades held her position six days before being captured and transported to Kilmainham Gaol. Once there, she was the only one of 70 women who was placed in solitary confinement. You can imagine the fear from the guards, who will she influence? What will she spread? Early in her political career Constance was already a force to be reckoned with, and quite rightly put the shits up the Brits.

When tried for her part in this, Constance refuted the charge of “taking part in an armed rebellion for the purpose of assisting the enemy” but proudly declared that she had indeed attempted to “cause disaffection among the civil population of His Majesty” citing that she had done what she thought was right and stood by her actions. Her courage and conviction was beyond reproach. She was sentenced to death, but this was commuted to life on account of her sex. Her now famous response, “I do wish your lot had the decency to shoot me.”
In 1917 Constance was released as part of a general amnesty dictated by London. Two years later she was banged up again, in Cork, for making a “seditious speech.” It seemed that everywhere Constance went and everything she said earned her jail time. It was of no consequence to her, she continued her work and aided the struggle regardless of the price, because it was right.

In 1918 she became the first woman elected to the House of Commons, but as expected as a member of Sinn Fein she declined to recognise the British Parliament and refused to take her seat. Being in Holloway Prison when the convention of the First Dail was called, Constance was referred to as being “imprisoned by the foreign enemy” as many were. She was reelected to the second Dail in 1921.

During an argument in the Dail Constance was asked why she had not gone to England with Collins et al to negotiate an agreement with the English. She replied thusly:

“I know what I mean—a state run by the Irish people for the people. That means a Government that looks after the rights of the people before the rights of property. And I don’t wish under the Saorstát to anticipate that the directors of this and the capitalists’ interests are to be at the head of it. My idea is the Workers’ Republic for which Connolly died.” Her dedication to socialism as a republican is one of the reasons her name is not as famous as you would expect. 

She was the minister for labour, fighting loud and long for the rights and equal treatment of the working class. She was the only female Irish Cabinet Minister in history until 1979. In 1922 she left government along with De Valera and others who opposed the Anglo-Irish treaty. 

After the Irish civil war which Constance took an active role in, she was again imprisoned along with 92 other women and commenced hunger strike. She was released within the month. Constance was reelected to Irish government over the coming years, before her death in 1927 just five weeks before she claimed her seat on the fifth Dail.

Constance died of complications connected to appendicitis, and having given her wealth to the cause died among the poor where she wanted to be. She had not risen with the class, rather she had reached across the divide in the name of equality and justice and fought for what was right, regardless of how it affected her personal situation. She was a heroine of the Irish Republican Movement, she was wedded to the cause and she lived and died that the working class, the Irish as a nation even, might be free of the chains of oppression and exploitation and imperialism.

Constance Markievicz might not have been a working class woman. But she was a feminist, a suffragette, a military freedom fighter, a political prisoner, a hunger striker, a politician and above all a woman who would have laid down her life to see those less fortunate though no less deserving prosper in a new Ireland built on equality and freedom for all its citizens.

Parenthood

The capitalist system creates an uneven playing field when it comes to raising children. In order to keep the “man of the house” enslaved through his labour, and through this template the family dependent upon it, they promote the nuclear family as the norm and show disdain for alternative family structures. The single parent family has become an everyday occurrence and yet the society we live in makes no allowances for such an arrangement, unless the second parent has little to no involvement with their children.

Where two parents are separated, sharing the responsibilities of parenthood equally, both working and providing financial security, a safe home and the best quality of life that can be afforded to a child, only one is recognised by the state as a parent. The state makes no allowances for parents who are on an equal footing and share time and sacrifices equally between them, as this requires an acceptance of equality between men and women in the family, and the absence of the nuclear family structure which has come to dictate our working class lives.

In families where there is no one breadwinner and one homemaker, the state washes it’s hands of any responsibility to the child. One parent may be working full time, more easily able to provide for the child whilst the other parent struggles to find work and maintain the standard of living. The state will provide for the child by way of benefits, but these are limited to one parent only, despite the equal split in parenting. This encourages the one parent to be dependent on the other, thus providing the framework, on paper, for a nuclear family outside of the accepted norm. 

This enables the exploitation of the one parent who is overextended and forced to rely on the other parent. Where no relationship exists further than the parenting of the child, this system forces an unnatural dependency which is unhealthy and unequal. This further promotes the conditions required for the oppression of the working class through exploitation of the accepted family structure, the forcing of single parents into poverty by refusal to recognise their status as a full time single parent in equal standing with the other, and the limiting of opportunity for decent employment and education that results from this. 

Donald Duck

I still cannot believe that after he has been denounced and decried all over the world, they are still giving that toady bastard Trump a platform.

I mean, what he’s doing amounts to terrorism as America defines it. He’s not blowing up people and trains and buses, of course, but he’s tapping into that foundation of terror and islamophobia that the media have built up over the last couple of decades, and is using it in an attempt to gain power. Isn’t that what it is, ruling through fear?

How far does freedom of speech extend? Freedom to say whatever you want? Whenever, to whomever, regardless of the far reaching and dangerous consequences? In spite of the racial hatred it insights? Flying in the face of fact and reason?  If that is freedom of speech then I think it’s a stupid idea. How can you allow someone to behave like that publically? 

He has been denounced by his own party, by the opposition, by various world leaders and now, too, by the British public who have signed the largest petition ever registered in an effort to keep the hateful bigot out of the country. And still, because of his money, he is allowed to throw up stages and instil fear into thousands. 

He doesn’t even have the tact to be secretive about what he’s up to. “We will roll into the Middle East, Exxon will come clean up and we will take the oil.” Who the fuck does he think he is? I’m sure there is a small angry element of America who find the honesty and the “straight-talking” refreshing, and this was seen as well in the rise and fall of the BNP and then UKIP – there appeared to be a cogency to their politics that appealed to people.

The fact is if you tell a lot of people a lie, plainly to their faces, without dancing around it and dressing it up – if you appear confident and knowledgable people will believe it. If you have money and power and status, people will believe it. In the end though, it’s still just a lie.

We should not be afraid to implement the lessons of the past because of political correctness. It is no longer a question of wether trump is disgusting or dangerous – we know both of those things to be true. The question now is, what should be done about it?

The Mayor’s Livery 

Yesterday I took my little boy to see Santa. He’s only two, he has no idea who Santa is and has little interest in him beyond the beard, but it’s a nice thing to do. It’s one of the things we do with our kids from no age, for us more than them if we’re honest, for the photos, for the memories. We fill them in later and, with a little artistic license, Harry’s first visit to Santa was a beautiful day for us all.

This visit to Santa however turned out to be tainted by one of the most out of touch people I have ever met. This person was the Mayor of Wirral. 

The party for the kids was held at a mother and baby unit on the Wirral. This is housing for young mothers who require some level of support. Wether this is due to mental health issues, homelessness or a requirement for social services, these young women have children ranging from three months to two years, all sharing a house, a garden and 24/7 staff. 

Having worked with young people in care previously, having lived in supported accommodation myself as a teenager and from having friends who had lived in this very building I was well aware when I arrived that this was a hard way to live for even the toughest. I was always impressed by the resilience of these women, the united front they put forward to authorities, for better or worse, was often honourable. 

With the odds and the all-too-familiar stream of Tory cuts stacked up against them, these girls were getting on with it and carving out a life for themselves and their children wherever that was to be found. 

When the Mayor walked into the room, I recognised him only by his livery collar. I don’t think many of the other mums recognised him at all, and even after he’d said he was the Mayor, there were still a sea of blank stares looking back. There are no mayors in Rockferry.

One of the funniest girls I’ve ever met piped up “I like your necklace.” 

“Ah!” He exclaimed, speaking a little louder and sweeping the room for anyone listening, “This is from (1800 and something) and it’s solid gold.” He beamed, impressed even with himself. 

“You’d get a fortune for that in cashies. No, you honestly would.” 

I loved her for that. Because it immediately pointed out something that had already irritated me so much. These women don’t give a fuck about your expensive necklace mate. They’re more worried about where their next bit of cash is coming from, if they’re going to be able to budget it, if they’ll even have enough to bother. If he didn’t feel foolish, he certainly looked it. How patronising, how flippant.

This is a man who proudly introduced himself to us as the “first citizen,” a phrase which the council website tells us means that he is literally more important than any one of us. He is subservient only to the Queen. You would think a man that we voted into this position would be more concerned about the living and working lives of these disadvantaged mothers than boasting about his wealth in front of them.

I thought it was crass, he didn’t ask any of them anything beyond the ages of the children. How disappointing that the man in charge of our council, who are in part responsible for these women and children, has nothing more to offer them at Christmas than a look at his gold.

I cropped him out of our Santa picture.
  

The Confession of Faith

The Communist Manifesto is basically a piece of writing that says “this is the way we should run our shit, and this is why.”

It was written by Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels. Marx and Engels met at a party or something in 1842 and they didn’t get on, but then they hooked up a few years later in 1844 and had a bit of banter and sort of a “yeah, you’re sound actually, let’s write a manifesto of our boss ideas.”

Marx and Engels set out to sort of shake up the left, so they joined this socialist league on the condition that they gave it more of a structure and, from what I can understand, got some proper IDEAS about things rather than just being sentimental. 

To sort of set that in stone, Engels wrote the Confession of Faith. Now my dad is a preacher, so I know what a confession of faith, or catechism, is. It’s basically a set of questions and answers that solidify your core beliefs into a series of statements, and this is basically what Engels confession of faith said:

[[ This is not the entire thing, I have cherry-picked, ha. But you can find it here: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/06/09.htm ]]
– Are you a communist?
Yes (pretty standard)

– What is the aim of the communists?

To develop a society where every single person can achieve their potential and exercise their rights in complete freedom without fucking things up for anybody else.

– How do you wish to achieve this aim?

By completely getting rid of private property, and making it so that everybody collectively owns all of the property.

– How do you wish to prepare the way?

By enlightening and uniting the proletariat.

– What is the proletariat? (This ones a biggie, everyone loves this word)

The proletariat are the people who solely survive from the work that they do. They don’t get anything of any real worth from it, they live hand to mouth. Which means their standard of living, even their life and death, depend on wether business is good or bad. They only bargaining chip they have, is their labour, or ability to work.

– Where did it come from?

At one point almost all labour was done by hand – building, manufacturing, farming, but loads of machines turned up that could do the job faster and cheaper. They were expensive as well, so only the rich people could buy them, and so the workers became worth very little to anyone. This meant all the produce, all the wealth, went straight to the bosses and the workers got nothing. Factories popped up and suddenly something which would have been one mans masterpiece was built on a line, he wasn’t a master anymore. So now we have two huge classes, one very rich and one very not:

– the capitalists, or bourgeoisie, who in almost every country own all of the produce and wealth, and all of the means of getting it, like factories and machines.

– the proletariat, who have to sell their labour just to get enough to survive. Because they are not on an equal footing, the proles have to accept whatever conditions the bourg offer no matter how bad they are.
The Confession of Faith then goes on to explain how the proletariat are the only class of it’s kind, and how it has been brought about by this new influx of machinery and efficiency. It also explains what they plan to do a bit more in terms of getting rid of private property and making sure everyone is cool.

Engels said that Marx defended the new theory in fairly lengthy debates, until everyone agreed and they were unanimously accepted. Marx was apparently big on “the practice of arriving at the truth by the exchange of logical arguments.” Well no shit. Somebody said of Marx at this time “…Marx represented the manhood of socialist thought.”

Now what I understand from that is that this man recognized in Karl the evolution from an idealistic socialism that everyone was bang up for before, into a practical, straight-forward and *implementable* Communism that more concretely addressed the needs of the proletariat.

(You should defo know proles by now, man.)

That, to me, is what this whole manifesto was about. It was designed to coagulate the left and say “look, we might not agree on this or that, but let’s focus on what we DO agree on, get that down on paper, and move forward from there.”

From there it was pretty much “holy shit man, good idea, cool story bro.”

And more on that later. The point is that this unification of the left is as relevant an issue now as ever. Again, we see that there are a class of ruling elite, and a whole class of people struggling to get by, living hand to mouth, and barely (if at all) meeting the cost of living. 

As Marx & Engels did with their Manifesto, again it is necessary to coagulate the left and to give it a sense of direction. So many people have such a lot of love for the left, so many go on marches, demos, start activist groups, squat banks. 

But the fact of the matter is that no matter how good the intentions are, if there is no sense of direction and especially of solidarity between everyone, then it’s a totally pointless exercise. There is no sense, no sense at all, at standing on a street corner with a placard railing against the system on behalf of somebody else. 

What is necessary, is to encourage, educate, and empower that person to do it on their own behalf. It is all well and good to tout ourselves as the great protectors and saviours of the lower class, but the fact of the matter is if they’ve never heard of you and they don’t know what you’re about, and there’s about three of you in total, then it’s pretty fucking pointless.

We don’t need to be kicking off at every injustice we see along the way, this will only serve as a distraction. What is needed is a new wave of ideas and solidarity on the left, a real alternative to the way that shit is run at the moment rather than this feeling, that at least personally I get, that we are bailing out a sinking ship with a thimble. 

Good intentions and good works are great, and nobody should stop striving for that. But what we should be doing is striving for a common goal, pooling our ideas and yes, where necessary compromise to further the aims of the left as a whole.

Miscarriage

I was only seventeen, and terrified when I looked at that test and it had two clear lines in the little window. I was only seventeen, and he wasn’t much younger, but he was as terrified as I. It took us three months to come to terms with the massive change that was about to impact our lives. We waited the twelve weeks before we started buying all the things on the massive list we’d made. We knew it wasn’t always safe until then. I sat at home looking at the piles of tiny new things that you would never wear. 
My first scan was the next day, the first time I was going to see what was already happening inside my body. I packed your things away gently, I was excited. I’d had pains all day, growing pains, the nurse on the phone said. I got in the shower, I had a whole pre-scan ritual planned. I was still sick, but it didn’t seem to matter so much on that particular evening.

I washed my hair and looked down at my feet, and there it was. The tiniest speck of blood. I told myself spotting was normal for a lot of women but behind my self-soothing there was a screaming panic and I knew, I knew from the first spot that you were gone.

I went to the hospital, they put jelly on my belly and looked for you. They came across a dark patch and stopped, peering. I stopped too, breathing, and asked with no small amount of urgency, “is that a baby?” 
The doctor paused a second, and looked at me before saying “that’s where it used to be.” 

The world crashed down around me. I knew it. I knew it. 

Nine years later, I know as I knew then that I, at 17, was in no condition to have a baby, to provide for it and raise it. But after all the time it took to get used to the idea I still couldn’t help feeling heartbroken, robbed. Set up to be knocked down.

Nine years later I still think about you, when I look at your brother and wonder what you might have looked like if you’d made it. Almost four months isn’t a lot, you were barely ever a baby at all. It’s funny how your mind works. I loved you then, and I love you still. 

October is infant loss awareness month apprently, I suppose that’s why I’m writing this. I don’t really think about you every day like I used to. I know everything happens for a reason, and it’s ok, really it is. But sometimes, when I’m being real honest with myself, I miss what you could have been.

I am privileged to know many strong women in my life, and am overwhelmed by how much loss and suffering they have been through. I’m not sure what level of awareness this sort of thing raises, I don’t know how much good those memes letting you know it’s October again do. But I do know that there is comfort in a pain shared. 

With as many as 75% of conceptions ending in miscarriage, and the probability of miscarriage higher in young mothers, you can really never know who around you is carrying something like this with them. When you post those fake pregnancy pranks in April, when you post those things about “expecting soon” when you’re talking about Santa and it’s all a big laugh, please remember those people for whom this hits hardest. Because the reality is you know a lot more of these women than you think.