Watching Life Unfold
“…the sad part is, that I will probably end up loving you without you for much longer than I loved you when I knew you.”
38 weeks. 38 weeks ago today, you were still alive inside of me. Living. Moving. Breathing. Kicking. Rolling. Squirming.
It was a Sunday. Your Daddy was away on retreat. That morning, on our last day together, I took your older siblings to mass just down the road (where your body now remains). Your movements had slowed a bit, but it was getting close...just two more weeks until your anticipated arrival. I glowed with excitement as others asked, “How much longer?” “Two more weeks,” I would reply...I was so anxious to have you in my arms. You received a blessing at mass that morning, and later in the day I took your oldest sister to a birthday party, and the rest of us went to the library.
It was a stormy weekend. Wind. Rain. Thunderstorms...much like the weather has been lately. I was desperate for you to come, and I kept researching barometric pressure in hopes that the weather would put my body into labor. For some reason, I felt an urgency to get you out. I couldn’t see past another week. It was almost as though I knew tragedy was on the horizon.
Throughout the day, I wondered why you were calmer than usual. I remember thinking, “I can’t go to the emergency room anyway...I’m alone. I’m sure everything is fine.” That night, the kids watched a movie filled with lively music, and you danced around with your normal energy. I breathed a sigh of relief and was so comforted to feel you shaking around inside of me.
That night, exhausted, I got your siblings to bed, and your littlest big brother slept beside me in mine. I picked up the book I had been reading, CONSOLING THE HEART OF JESUS, and journeyed through excerpts of the diary of St. Faustina. I felt compelled to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. It was around 9 PM. Suddenly, you began moving around with such force. I couldn’t tell if you were having the hiccups, as you so often did. It was a strange feeling...your movement had increased, and it wasn’t quite like anything I had felt you do before. Then I paused, as though a quiet voice whispered to me, Enjoy your baby right now. Embrace your baby. And so I did...I cradled my belly in my arms, gazed at it, and thought of you. I felt you roll, then I went to sleep. That would be the last time I would feel you move. The last time your heart would beat within my womb. The last time I carried you alive.
The next morning, after 38 weeks and one day of pregnancy, our world fell apart.
It’s been 38 weeks since that day...
How is it that you’ve been gone for as long as you were with me? From 38 weeks of growing you, to 38 weeks of life without you.
Time looks so differently.
In your pregnancy, there was sickness, exhaustion, excitement, anticipation...time couldn’t go fast enough. You couldn’t get here soon enough. There was joy and hope and eager expectation. There was laughter and preparation and gratitude. There were 38 weeks of bonding, of connecting, of cultivating, of loving, of growing attached to you. 38 weeks of being your mother on earth. 38 weeks of being your home. 38 weeks of check ups, ultrasounds, and heartbeats. 38 weeks of watching my body grow, change, and expand. 38 weeks of surrender. 38 weeks of carrying life.
These past 38 weeks have been dark...a living nightmare. There have been tears and heartbreak and nights of endless despair. There have been mornings of being unable to get out of bed. There has been physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual stretching and growth. 38 weeks of regular therapy sessions. 38 weeks of brokenness. 38 weeks of confusion, questions, exhaustion, and fatigue. 38 weeks of grief in a life that has experienced death. 38 weeks of looking at your picture...missing you, needing you, bringing flowers to your grave. 38 weeks of endless tears and heartbreak and a pain I never imagined possible. 38 weeks of loss. 38 weeks of fear and anxiety and sorrow. 38 weeks without you here.
It’s been 38 weeks of a “new normal,” discovering who I am exactly. Navigating through waters unknown. Being swallowed whole by the ebb and flow of grief. Learning how to parent a child gone too soon. 38 weeks of my arms and heart aching to hold you...wishing every day that this all looked so differently. Wishing you were here. Each week filled with a choice, each day marked by a decision, to keep going, to keep pressing forward, to keep living without you. 38 weeks of tending to your brothers and sisters in your absence, loving your Daddy in his hurt, and allowing others to love me in return.
38 weeks of forward progress and huge setbacks. Watching life unfold before me as time seems to spin and unravel before my eyes. As I lose all sense of control in every area of my life and learn to wave my white flag with grace. 38 weeks of relearning to love...to trust...to dare to hope. To take risks, to take chances, despite the fear of being burned...of being let down...of losing again.
38 weeks of loving God, being so angry at Him, pushing Him away, and letting him back into my heart ever so slowly. Ever so gently. 38 weeks of Him ushering in...pursuing...healing.
38 weeks of missing you every single day. And today...on this feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. How incomprehensible the bigger picture is, after all.
In the end, I wish I wasn’t writing this letter to you. Instead, I wish you were crawling around our home, babbling, and causing mischief and giggles inside our walls. I wish that these past 38 weeks were filled with your cuddles, your smiles, sleepless nights, and hours of your eyes staring back into mine. I wish 38 weeks forward would mean a lifetime together, and not the rest of my life without you.
You have been teaching me. I’m trying to learn. I’m trying to grow. I’m trying to love better. Help me to hold on to what we have...not what we had and not what we lost. Help me to see what comes from your existence and the honor of being your mother...to a saint in heaven. Keep loving me. Keep revealing yourself to me. And help me to find you...as I continue to watch life unfold.
I love you, baby girl. Always and forever.