Off the Record

You may have read Sports Editor Tim O’Brien’s “Off The Record” last week. If you haven’t, please do.

We’re both going through tough times. That isn’t a cry for sympathy—it’s just a statement of reality.

Tim and his wife, Angie, had a miscarriage in November at 19 weeks. My wife, Brigitte, and I had a stillborn baby on Jan. 12 at 39 weeks.

Both are gut-wrenching, knock-you-down-and-keep-you-down experiences. We all know how tenuous pregnancies are, but in the fall, Tim and I were both looking forward to being dads together by the spring of 2021. Barely a week into the new year, we were both in mourning.

I’m editor of The Beverly Review, and Mondays are production days. On Monday, Jan. 18, I did not want to go to work. I wanted to lie in bed forever—or at least for two weeks. Again, that is not a cry for sympathy—that is a description of reality. Many parents who have lost children are nodding their heads right now, understanding that feeling.

Upon coming to work, however, I was extremely comforted by my co-workers—including Tim. It helped. They legitimately felt like guardian angels. The week leading up to that production day, I couldn’t even imagine writing a sentence. But, here I am today, typing away.

I don’t know much about this journey, but I feel like I know a few things. For any parent who has experienced such a tragedy, my advice is simple: take your time. There is no rush to do anything—to be strong, to get back to work, to try to be inspiring. Just be comfortable. Lie on the couch. Just lie there. You deserve peace.

People in mourning hear a lot of advice about how to cope with tragedy, and the adage about taking it one day at a time seems to be true. I’m comfortable most days. I’m grateful for my wife and our three other children. They bring me great joy, and I allow that joy to rest aside my grief.

I am still angry, too, and I always will be. And, that’s OK. Bad things happen to people—good people—all the time, so of course, they can happen to me, too. But, it’s still OK to ask: Why? Why our beautiful Nieve Garmes?

As any dad feels, I am convinced Nieve—pronounced “Neev”—was ready to take on the world. She had a serious, confident look on her face. She was ready to face the world, and then she wasn’t. That fills me with anger and angst. And, that’s OK.

I will forever be mad for her. I feel that’s one thing, maybe one of only a few things, I can do for her: just be mad that she didn’t get a chance.

As Tim said, his baby girl, Madelynn, is buried in the children’s section of an area cemetery—just a few feet away from Nieve. I found tremendous comfort when the funeral home director showed me the plot where Nieve would rest, and it nearly touched Madelynn’s. She has a friend already.

As weird as that might sound, I allow my brain to believe that, to bring me comfort.

Tim and I sit a few feet away from each other almost every day. Our girls lie a few feet away from each other every day.

I love talking about Nieve. You can ask me about her any time. As another co-worker who lost a child said, “It’s the elephant in the room.” Well, if there were an elephant in the room, wouldn’t you talk about it? 

I will tell you about Nieve’s beautiful, long dark hair, her full lips and her beautiful hands. 

And, if you want to tell me about loved ones you’ve lost, please do, regardless of whether we know each other. Write me an email or stop me in the street.

The happiness we once had might not be attainable anymore. That’s OK. But, we all deserve peace. And, we can all find it—maybe—if we don’t try so hard to look for it.