“Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean. Tears from the depths of some divine despair. Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes...And thinking of the days that are no more.” (Alfred Tennyson)
I did a lot of remembering today, my sweet girl.
Your Daddy awoke me and your brothers and sisters to witness a morning snow. I moved from the bed begrudgingly...I had a goal to sleep most of the morning away. I slowly approached the front window, still half asleep, but I have to admit, it was beautiful witnessing the snowflakes slowly cascading to the frozen ground. Beauty, I thought. I haven’t seen beauty in a while. (Have I even been looking for it?). Your brothers and sisters were so excited about the weather. They quickly dressed in mismatched layers and raced hurriedly out the door to play in the phenomen of snow in the south. It very rarely ever snows here. And you missed it. Or did you? It was your little big brother’s “first snow,” too.
At first I made an attempt at going back to bed. Today was going to be a very sad and very hard day. I wanted to push my anxiety and disappointment back under the covers and bury myself underneath. It didn’t work. Something told me to arise once more to receive the gift of the snow. I warmed myself a cup of apple cider, your Daddy lit a fire, and I sat and stared out the window for a long time begging to feel something other than sadness and endless longing.
I hoped your baby brother would offer me some comfort by allowing me to feel some movement within my womb. He seems so different than you...less active, more subtle. It often causes me to worry and constantly wonder if he is still alive. The thought never leaves the back of my mind. You were such a busy baby...always moving and allowing me to enjoy your presence within me. However, I don’t want him to tie himself into a knot like you did.
As I sat, I remembered this day one year ago on this Feast of the Immaculate Conception when I felt you move for the first time inside of me. Subtle flutters that flooded my heart with immense joy and filled me with anticipation and excitement. I was so happy to be your mother. To grow you and spend every day with you. I took in every part of you. Every moment in case it would be my last pregnancy. Little did I know what lied ahead. I could have never imagined that a year later I would be missing you, carrying a new life, and preparing my heart to attend a funeral in the afternoon for a friend’s little boy who was born two weeks after you were born “still.”
Anger began rising up within me as the morning progressed. Soon it would be time to get dressed. To prepare to leave. It reminded me of getting ready for your funeral. How did I do that? How did I get out of bed? Shower? Put my five day postpartum body, milk coming in and all and still physically recovering, into a black dress and a pair of wedges? Apply make up to my swollen tear drenched face? Get your brothers and sisters ready? And wait for it all to happen? To unfold? Of seeing you for the last time, knowing you would not look like you did when I left you, and afraid of what it would all be like? Terrified, rather. Panic overtaking me making it impossible to breathe. To think. To move. The time came. And somehow we did it.
When we arrived for the funeral today, the rosary was being recited, just like it was when we got to the church for your funeral. We were late for your rosary, because I just couldn’t walk away again. How do you say goodbye to your baby? Your future? Your life together? I watched my friend pray today. It made me sad I didn’t pray very well six months ago. But it was all such a blur. I just kept trying to exist that day, much like I do now.
I knew I was walking into a minefield today. But I had to go. My heart said run there. But my mind wanted to back out. I thought so much of you. You have seemed so far away. I’m believing lies that I didn’t know you. That maybe you are just a memory. Or that my losing you is minimized, because you never came home. I thought about all the things I never experienced with you...cuddles, nursing sessions, bath times, diaper changes, looking into your eyes, putting you to bed, hearing you cry, waking up to your hunger, hearing you giggle, seeing you smile. And I wondered what is worse...losing your baby before they are born alive, or after. And I flashed back to the dark hospital room. Your small body. Feeling the weight of you in my arms. The small casket today reminded me that it really did happen. Growing you. Loving you. Losing you. It’s real.
I felt a wave of nausea fall over me as we got closer and closer to the casket. To the reality of another senseless tragedy. More mourning. More sorrow. More confusion. More aching. More longing. More begging. The flowers. The plants. I remembered how they filled our home. Some still hanging on like me. The full church. The sadness of community. How I seemed to leave my body about half way through it all.
I kept going back to the past, while simultaneously experiencing the present.
I saw our friends, husband and wife, embrace one another’s wounds, while still tending to their other small children. I thought, That must be so hard, then I remembered...our children went through that day, too. Their sister died. They live with sad parents. And they are tired of hearing that babies go to heaven too soon. I also heard in my heart, as though to send a prayer down to them, that this will expand, grow, and strengthen your marriage. And I looked over to my husband and realized, WE ARE LIVING THIS.
The priest incensed the casket, and I was transported back to when that was done for you. You were in a casket. How is that possible? Your body was incensed, because you are sacred. Sacred. Set apart. And now me and you...forever apart. It was all becoming too much. I was being split wide open. Seeing so many of the same people who have mourned with us over the past six months now mourning for someone else we love...it was shattering me. I often wonder, how many times can your heart be carved out? Ripped out? Damaged? Destroyed? A flood of emotions engulfed me, and it felt like day one all over again. Forward and backward progress seemed to be nonexistent, and I just wanted none of it to exist at all. I wanted you HERE. I didn’t want to know what this is like. I didn’t want our friends to know what this is like. I just wanted to go back to 6 months and thirteen days ago when I still had you safely in my womb. To that day I felt you kick, hiccup, and move for the last time. To the time of BEFORE where joy resided, and not the time of AFTER where grief, pain, and loss have taken over.
I remembered what it was like to process out of the church, holding hands as a family, my head bowed, trying to hold it together. Not wanting to be in the spotlight. Unable to escape. Leaving for the burial. Trying to wish it all away.
We tried to go to the burial today. However, once the tent near the burial sight was in my vision, my heart dropped, and I had to run. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t face the finality. I haven’t even come to terms with that truth for you. Someone thought we changed our minds, because it was so cold outside. But my truest friend knew. And she cried with me. I’m struggling to love a God that doesn’t make sense. I don’t know how to accept this. I don’t know how to accept losing you.
I would have preferred sitting on the sofa today, holding you, instead of remembering. I would have rathered cry for someone else today, while not crying for myself and remembering your funeral at the same time. I would have liked to come home and pull you close, instead of sitting in regret and thinking about how I will never have that opportunity.
Honestly, my sweet girl, I often tire of remembering. Of being unable to hold on to anything else. I wish we were making memories, instead of trying to hold onto nine months of fleeting ones.
But my tears continue to fall. And they remind me that I need to remember. And feel. And experience. And that I will love you forever.
I love you enough to remember.