Inspirational

Dear ‘This Is Us’ — If You’re Going to Start the Talk, Make Sure to Continue the Conversation

Dear writers for This Is Us (Dan Fogelman and anyone else),

First I feel the need to tell you I’m a fan. This important for you to understand before we delve into “the talk” you said you wanted.

I’m a Caucasian woman who adopted through foster care, and raised a little brown baby through foster care. I also have experienced pregnancy loss. Just last week, I wrote on my FB page where I hold a discussion (aka support group for us weepy women) after the show:

*I’m Rebecca, a white woman who mothered a little brown boy.

*I’m Rebecca raising my hand in court, publicly declaring my love and devotion to a child, signing our names to the decree, making our family official.

*I’m all the Pearsons dealing with social workers in my home.

*I’m Randall, accusing a social worker of not caring because kids’ rights always take a backseat to parental rights.

*I’m Randall, who feels justified in confronting mom based on limited knowledge, but coming from a life of love and privilege and believing that gives me the right to judge those on the other side of the glass.

*I’m Randall, saying all those things at the prison — except I’m not, because we don’t get to confront bio parents like he did. We’d be seen as not “following the plan” and would have our child removed from our home without so much time to pack their things. He does the thing all foster parents wish secretly we could do: tell a bio parent exactly what we think when we feel protective of our foster kid.

*I’m Randall’s wife saying, “no this is not ok, we won’t let this happen” — all the while knowing we have no choice.

*I’m one Pearson or another, dealing with the ups and downs of fostering and adopting — the glorious beauty and heart-wrenching loss, wishing we could protect that child from the pain of their situation, knowing that our words and our love will still always fall short by just a bit. And yet that’s all we can do, so we give and love and we try our best to protect anyway.
I’m trying to write my book right now, but all I can do is think back to little brown boy I once called son. The boy I wanted to protect from pain, but couldn’t, yet tried to anyway. The one I had to let go. The one I still hold space for in my heart.

This episode gave me all the feels. What about you?

So speaking of all the feels — I have to say, I’m expecting to feel them all tomorrow. Normally, I look forward to Tuesdays. Not this week. Not when Kate says that she just wants the little piece of rice to grow into the bean to grow into the grape. Not when her heart was on lockdown out of fear of losing her baby, and then she let loose just a little and lets herself hope and rejoice.
And then y’all think we need to talk, so you made her lose the baby.

I won’t remind you again that I’m disappointed. (Angry. Sad. Frustrated. Weary. So so sad.) But what I will tell you is that I am downright anxious.

You see, you say we need to talk about it. And the thing is — we bereaved moms do talk about it already. And we talk about it in the context of your show.

Each episode, we have waited, sometimes patiently, sometimes not, for YOU to talk about it.

I’m waiting to see if the death of a child causes just as much of an impact as the death of a father. Each birthday I’m waiting for someone to acknowledge the little one who was born and died that day. I’m waiting for Rebecca to lose it at the sight of triplets that look alike, or to succumb emotionally to some other trigger: the smell of a hospital … the sight of a pregnant belly … the birth of her grandchildren …

I’m waiting for both Rebecca AND Jack to show that the loss of a child is not just some bump in the road. It has the potential to change you — forever. And not just change you because you get someone else to replace them. But because someone is forever missing. I’m waiting to see a funeral with a tiny white casket — because the shell of a baby gone too soon does not just disappear. We want you to talk about Kyle. We want you to show that he still has a place in the family. We want you to acknowledge that grief lasts and changes a family. We want you to make it so clear that one child never replaces another.

But you haven’t. Not really. A few sentences here and there, sprinkled enough to give us a hunger for more, but you don’t go there.

And so us mamas are talking about it. We’re holding space for Kyle, we’re talking about him and we’re waiting for you to catch up.

And now … we wait some more. Tomorrow, Kate loses her baby. And we’re anxious not just because we know it will trigger our own feelings of loss … but we worry because we fear you won’t do the experience justice.

That you will talk about it, but you won’t talk about it enough. Or the right way. Or that you’ll treat it as a one-episode thing — where Kate is sad, she makes the lemonade, and then life just moves on without her baby for the rest of the season.

Or maybe I’m anxious you’ll do too good of a job. That it will bring up every emotion from the five pregnancy losses I’ve had that I’ve worked through and mostly stuffed down.

So yes, I want to talk about it. And then again, I don’t want to talk about it.
I realize that this makes me a very easy-to-please audience. (ha!)

But tomorrow— if you insist we need to talk, please make sure you’re willing to continue the conversation — and not just start it.

Your biggest fan,

Rachel

Rachel Lewis
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Rachel Lewis is a foster, adoptive and birth mom. After a 5-year battle with secondary infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss, she now has three children in her arms and a foster son in her heart. She is passionate about helping women feel heard and understood when building their family gets a little bit complicated. When she’s not chauffeuring her kids around, you can find her shopping at Trader Joes, drinking coffee, or writing about her journey as a mom at The Lewis Note. She is a regular contributor to Still Standing Magazine, Pregnancy After Loss Support, and The Mighty. You can get her free resource, "Your BFF Guide to Miscarriage: 5 Ways to Comfort a FriendThrough Pregnancy Loss" here. Connect with Rachel on Facebook, or join her private Facebook group Brave Mamas -- a support group for anyone who had to struggle to build their family.

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