It has been my privilege to get to know Henderson over the last few months. Even just little glimpses into her life as new, online friends has afforded me the opportunity to see a woman who loves her family and who is using her own experience of loss to offer comfort to other grieving mothers in a tangible, practical way, and it is just beautiful.
Below is her story, and I am so grateful that I get to share it here with you.
If you have a similar outreach for grieving parents, please feel free to contact me. I’d love to share it, too.
My name is Henderson Lafond and I am mom to two children with a third on the way in February 2017. One of my children lives with me, the other lives in my heart. This is a road I did not choose to take and never thought I would travel but here I am.
My son was born July 22, 2012 and he is and has been my greatest joy. The love I feel for Reeves and the fun I have being his Mom is something I wouldn’t trade for anything. He was born 5 ½ weeks early — my water broke as we were getting ready to walk out the door for my maternity photo shoot. He is all boy and has been keeping me on my toes ever since. He is bright and playful, funny and really caring. He tells me every day that I am his best friend which makes my heart feel like it is going to explode!
My daughter was born asleep October 17, 2015. Her name is Madison Reid. I love and miss her every day and I still feel a lot of anger, confusion and sadness that she is not here with me physically anymore. Even though I did not know her outside of my body, I feel I know and got to experience so many things about her. She was constantly on the move — I mean constantly! She was already giving her Daddy fits – every
time she would kick and I would grab my husband’s hand to feel it she would stop. At the time, we did not know if we were having a little boy or girl so I used to joke with him that we were definitely having a girl and this was only the beginning! And like any good southern lady, my girl loved tomato sandwiches. With loads of mayo and salt and pepper. I seriously could not get enough tomatoes over the summer – we bought pounds of them every Saturday at the Farmer’s Market. I would count the minutes until lunchtime every day (and some days I will admit eating lunch inappropriately early!) cause baby girl would not be denied!
It is a strange thing for a mom to have one child here and one who is not. It’s like being a part of two worlds at the same time. I feel an extreme sense of responsibility and need to teach my son everything I can about this world that we live in and also make sure that I teach the world about my daughter since I can’t do the same for her.
It’s even more difficult facing a pregnancy after loss with the wide range of emotions that come along with that. It is a strange blend of terror, excitement, sadness and hope all rolled into one. Some days the fear outweighs the excitement, some days the hope shines brighter, but I am always still afraid.
On April 2, 2016 I started a non-profit organization in my daughter’s honor called Madison’s Closet. I choose that date because it was one year to the day that we found we were expecting her. Our mission is to comfort and clothe moms who share this path by providing complimentary donated clothing to help them reclaim their self-confidence. When you have something nice to wear, you feel better about yourself. The women who donate to Madison’s Closet do so thinking of the women they will help. They want to be of service in a helpless situation.
When you lose a child a part of your confidence and self-esteem is lost too. I hated my body for not providing my daughter safe passage into this world. With only maternity or frumpy clothes to wear I felt even worse about myself. I didn’t want to go out or be seen in public – by anyone. Losing a child is isolating as it is, this makes it even more so.
I wore the same two pairs of pants for three months until I finally broke down and bought some clothes that fit. I was fortunate enough to work from home. Many women who experience a loss have to return to work outside of the home and need clothing to wear. It wasn’t because I couldn’t afford to buy a few things to wear, it was because I couldn’t face clothing a body that I hated, a body I felt failed me.
My hope is that the clothing we are collecting will help a mom regain a bit of her self confidence in the days after a loss. My hope is that the moms we help feel the love and light from the women who donated the clothing and that they are truly not alone.
I know two things for sure, one I was meant to be a Mom and two that I was meant to be Madison’s mom. I do not like this and I do not understand it. What I hope to be able to do, is take something that devastated me and create a lasting legacy for my daughter and all the sons and daughters of my fellow sisters in loss.
With love and light,