On this day 39 years ago, my brother Brian was born full term, held briefly by our parents and then died a few hours later due to complications likely caused by human error at the hospital. I was two and do not remember, yet I must have been attuned to the grief in our home. My older brother Patrick, age six at the time, remembers our father taking him to McKennan Park to attempt to explain how the little baby we were all so excited to meet had gone to heaven.

Now that I have two healthy children of my own after losing one baby in an early miscarriage, it leaves me breathless to imagine the pain my parents went through - still go through - grieving the sudden loss of this child. I think about Brian and try to imagine what he would have looked like now as an adult, what passions and interests he might have had, what interesting things he might have done with his life.

I recently saw this family portrait honoring children lost to miscarriage, as part of a campaign to promote October as SIDS, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month. I didn't know this organization existed until a few weeks ago. Many of my friends and family have had miscarriages, but it is something most people don't talk about or have a space where they can talk about it. I wish I'd know about this organization when I had my miscarriage.

A few weeks ago, the three siblings I grew up with all came to visit along with our mother. We four kids try to see each other individually a few times a year but rarely are we all together at the same time, being dispersed around the country. I wish I could just run over to dinner at my sister's, have a beer with my older brother, go to the theater with my younger brother, laugh with their spouses, play with their kids all a lot more often. Not every family gets along and we're lucky to actually like and admire each other.

Photographer Nicholos Nixon took Forty Portraits in Forty Years of his wife and her three sisters. I love to imagine my siblings and I in a project like this, with Brian in the photographs with us.



Sunday night I heard Gloria Steinem in conversation with Cheryl Strayed at a sold-out Benaroya Hall benefit for Hedgebrook, a women's writing retreat center on Whidby Island (the only place of its kind in the world and where I dream of someday having a residency in one of their cozy cottages). Gloria is on tour for her new book My Life on the Road, part of which she wrote at Hedgebrook. My friend Julie accompanied me, along with her daughter Fern still in utero. Tiny baby Fern surely felt the high energy, intensity and camaraderie in the beautiful symphony hall. Her mom and I were riveted and emotional throughout the evening.

A few of Gloria's great quotes from the evening:

Travel is the reason I have hope.

Telling our story is the most revolutionary act.

Your story is your credibility.

All social change comes from talking circles.

Change grows up like a tree, not from the top down.

Don't listen to me, listen to yourselves. 

Women grow more radical with age whereas men tend to grow more conservative with age.

Just as women deserve to be whole people, so do men. 

The biggest obstacle to Equal Rights Amendment is that people think we already have it.

I was shocked and deeply mortified to realize I was one of these people who assumed the Equal Rights Amendment had long ago been ratified - but no. It needs to be ratified state-by-state and 15 states have yet to do so. It is beyond appalling that this legislation from 1923 has not been passed, despite being introduced in every Congress since 1982.

There is so much work yet to be done, and all of us in the crowd were electrified and inspired. Gloria sent us all off into the night, telling us to greet a few people in the crowd we didn't know, as we might find a new friend, a new job, a new lover, a new community. Indeed, this is community building from the ground up. Thank you, Gloria for leading the charge.