Return to Zero premiered on Saturday, May 17th at 8pm on Lifetime. I have posted about it on Facebook nearly everyday and I am so grateful for the support and understanding of the people in my life and their willingness to watch a film that includes the devastating loss of a child. I am so passionate about this film. I am so grateful for the potential that it has to bring to our society, not only to parents of babies who have died but also to their support networks of family and friends. Nobody knows what to do when a child dies, including the child's own parents!! Yet in the midst of grief you find yourself having to navigate through the unknown sea of overwhelming emotions while at the same time explain or educate those around you because it is unchartered territory for everyone. It is a truly devastating, confusing, scary and lonely time to survive. This film will change that. This movie is for everybody because unfortunately, at some point in your life, you will know someone who experiences a tragic loss and you will want to be able to support them.
While I didn't experience the still birth of my child, I have endured and survived the death of my beloved daughter at 33 days, Return to Zero is still my story. It is the story of a couple that love each other so much, a couple anxiously awaiting the birth of their first child, a couple that had to rebuild their life, their view of the world and ALL of their relationships after their beloved child has died. This movie is so much more than a child dying. It is so much more than death. It is about the beauty of life, the resiliency of the human spirit, it is about living when you are pretty certain that there is nothing left to live for.
I was fortunate enough to see the movie twice already, the first time being at the World Premiere at the San Jose Film Festival Cinequest. I was so nervous to watch the movie, of how I might feel emotionally affected, about being in the room with strangers while feeling vulnerable, I was afraid of what emotions might be stirred back up. I quickly realized that instead of being thrust back into the world of loss, in which I live everyday, I felt seen, I felt heard, I felt empowered. I felt like, FINALLY, someone is telling our story! Of course, I cried (which I seldom do in public) but I also laughed, quite a bit! There are so many times when you're in the midst of grief that inappropriate laughter is the only thing that can possibly carry you through and this movie captured so many of those awkward, entertaining yet necessary moments.
Since the viewing at the film festival, I have had the utmost honor of befriending the mother who this story is based upon, whose husband created the film in honor of their son. She has offered our community of "baby loss mamas" an incredible gift by sharing such an intimate time of her child's life with the world. She, and her family, are breaking the silence of stillbirth, they are breaking the silence of the taboo subject that babies die, too. She is offering a look into our lives from the outside, so that friends and family members can better understand and support those they love when they experience the unimaginable loss of their child.
In this movie, they do show the labor, delivery and post partum time with the couple's beautiful baby boy. It is devastating, it is sad, it is heartbreaking. And it is real life. It is real for the 26,000 families a year whose child has died before birth. In those moments that you never think you will experience, you have to fit a lifetime of love, hugs, kisses, snuggles, smells and photos. I am so glad that the creators of this movie were true to life in this film, they didn't shy away from the reality of what life is like when your child dies. In order to BREAK THE SILENCE, you have to be forthcoming and real and raw to bring understanding that these babies, our children were real and valued and important and will always be desperately loved and fervently missed.
You know, at one time, I too thought that "this" could never happen to me. It was an easier life, a more lighthearted view of the world where I cared so much about things that I now find truly unimportant. My greatest prayer is that nobody I know has to endure this loss, it is truly devastating and life never returns to "normal". I do however know, that this is a horrible reality yet because of this film, families whose babies have died will have support not only from the community in which relates to them but also from friends and family who through this film can be more empathic, loving and patient as rebuild their life.
Yes, this movie is about a family whose child has died. Yes, this movie is about a child who left far too soon. This movie is mostly about love, perseverance, and the ability to create life after loss. And most importantly, this movie is about educating our loved ones on what this journey has been like and how they can best support us in our greatest time of need.
Through our greatest loss, we truly learn the value in this lifetime.
Please watch this movie in whatever capacity feels safe for you.
Thank you, RTZ team, you have truly changed the way in which our society will view our beloved children in their short yet beautiful life in this world.
I am waiting with anticipation for Saturday's Human Race and the beautiful day that it will be...
This weekend is so much more than the Human Race. It's so much more than fundraising or the foundation or attracting attention for a cause. This weekend, the Human Race, is all I get each year. I don't get to plan birthday parties or have first day of school photos or invites to play dates with Ruthie Lou. Instead, this weekend I get to honor my daughter by walking in the Human Race, by wearing her name on my shirt and by seeing it printed on the shirt of all those who love her, too. This weekend, I get to "see" her in the people who show up and the people who support us and include her in our lives still today.
I love that this event is always the day before Mothers Day, it feels so appropriate. It also makes that day much more difficult. It feels so fitting that on a day reserved for mothers, I get to speak of my little girl freely because every person in our group at the race signed up to be there. But also, on this day reserved for mothers, I only get to hug one of my babies and kiss one to sleep at night. That will never feel fair.
The Human Race is so much more than how many people show up that day, it's about those who know the value in showing up, who understand that this day is all I get. I know life is busy and I know not everyone who wants to be will be there but I am always so excited to see who will be there, each year is different and each year is perfect. The Human Race is about continuing Ruthie Lou's legacy by spreading her love between friends, family and the families in which her foundation will help. This day is about my daughter, her amazing soul and her heart that will always live on in mine.
This day is beautiful. And this day is hard. Much like life is, beautiful yet hard.
I miss you, Ruthie Lou. Always.
Inspired by the love that Ruthie Lou showed us in her life, The Ruthie Lou Foundation has been created!
The Ruthie Lou Foundation strives to provide Comfort Boxes to families before leaving the hospital without their baby. This foundation has been awaiting its creation since our family was in the hospital and since our time at George Mark Children's House and it is an honor to finally give back.
Please visit www.RuthieLouFoundation.org to find out more!
So much love to you and yours.
I am mama of three beautiful babes; two sons whom I have the privilege of raising and my daughter who lived for 33 sacred days.