Without ever knowing it, my whole life I took for granted that the hardest part about babymaking was delivery itself.
Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that I would outlive one of my children, much less bury my first only a few days after delivery.
In the NICU I was thrust into a new world I knew nothing about, and quickly gained a profound respect for NICU doctors and nurses as I watched them care for this amazing little girl like their own, and fight for her every step of the way against all odds.
My world took another horrific turn when we got the call in our Ronald McDonald House at 4am-ish. In a sleep-deprived dreamlike state I remember picking up the phone and while I dont remember the words they told me, I know they said something about getting down to the NICU fast because time was short.
I remember pacing through what seemed like a never-ending hall. I watched the heavy double doors open for us after buzzing the nurse station, and must have thought how silly hand-washing was when I knew it would be the last day I would ever walk through those doors to see our girl.
Three years later, it is mind-bottling how this tiny person and short, short life can have ripple effects this far down the road.
Grief now doesn’t look the way it did the first year or two.
The first year the pain was literal. It was not only confined to the four walls of my emotional heart. It was physical. It was draining, and it was the hardest work I have ever done.
The second year we welcomed our son into the world and a numbness fell over me out of sheer survival madness. My arms were no longer empty, and this beautiful little boy filled a gap in our lives, but could never fill her place in our heart. Of course, I never expected him to be anything more than he was – another beautiful child and gift.
As the third year rolled around I began feeling a sense of calm. A peace I hadn’t felt in so long. A reborn appreciation for LIFE was budding since her death, inside my heart but it’s almost like I finally gave into it this year. Someone once said, you are never more alive than when you are almost dead. That would be true.
Laughter was sweeter.
I could feel love in my heart was stronger.
I became extremely passionate about some things, and let a lot of things that I used to think were important fall away. Pruning.
I didn’t take little things like butterflies, wild daisies or the rain for granted. I couldn’t.
Everything beautiful after she died felt like a living and breathing miracle. Because it was.
This year has been bittersweet in it’s own way. We honor her, we remember her but the tears don’t fall as frequent as they used to. We’ve replaced a lot of those tears with sweet memories that were at first too much to think about.
Right after we buried her my worst fear – and I don’t say this lightly – was that she would be forgotten. And to some, she probably is. But over time, it became increasingly obvious that it didn’t matter who remembered her, what mattered is that she could live through us. And we could tell her story everyday – to anyone willing to listen.
Shortly after she died I contacted M.E.N.D in Houston to get some kind of support. If you have lost a child, I would recommend looking up to see if there might be a local chapter in your area. Every October 15th (on or around that date) they plan something special to honor all babies gone too soon.