Vessels: A Love Story
By Daniel Raeburn
Trade Paperback, 176 pages, $23.95
When Dan, a writer with a passion for underground comics, and his wife Bekah, a potter dedicated to traditional Japanese ceramics, met through a mutual friend at a Memorial Day party, they fell in love quickly. “Of all the women I’ve ever met,” Dan told a friend, “she’s the first one who felt like family.” But after spending Christmas with Dan’s family, tragedy struck. The baby, whom Bekah and Dan named Irene, wasn’t moving and Bekah didn’t feel right. The following day, Bekah went to the doctor only to find out that Irene was dead. Leaving her with the only decision: deliver a stillborn.
After the devastating loss of Irene, Dan and Bekah were stuck in a cycle of being depressed and not wanting to live. Bekah spent most of that time being stuck on bedrest while the rest of the world sped past her. She got to the point where she was tired of everyone else doing the work for her and willed herself out of bed. “She didn’t want to work with anyone who’d known her before the birthday. When her fever receded she got dressed and rode a bus to the skyscrapers downtown, where she took a job in an office where no one knew anything about her but her name” (pp. 47).
A little over a year, their wedding and honeymoon later, Bekah was pregnant again. Knowing and remembering what happened with Irene, Bekah and Dan were on edge about everything. And in hopes of not jinxing this pregnancy, Bekah and Dan didn’t tell anyone. The baby was breech, so a C-section was scheduled, and the baby was delivered with no problems. They named her Willa.
Based on Daniel Raeburn’s acclaimed New Yorker essay, Vessels: A Love Story is the story of how he and Bekah fought and clung to each other through a miscarriage in December of 2003, a still-birth in December of 2004, a C-section in May of 2006 (Willa), a miscarriage in December of 2008, and then finally having Hazel and joyfully becoming parents. In prose as delightful as his wife’s pottery, Raeburn recounts a marriage cemented by the same events that nearly broke it.
Vessels is an unwavering, immensely moving story of intimacy, strength, and love.