Monday, May 18, 2015

Our Butterfly

Today, six years ago and also on a Monday, we buried Janessa. I stood there, in shock and gutted to the core. I had no idea how to go on living. What I didn’t know, and what I am glad to have not known, was that the shock would eventually wear off and the grief would increase to a state that felt unbearable and unsurvivable. What I also didn’t know, but wish I had known, was that even though some would forsake me, others would embrace me, and I would find a support system both locally and online that would save my life.
On the day we learned I was pregnant with Janessa, we were on our honeymoon and we visited a Butterfly Sanctuary. I’m grateful to not have known how symbolic that visit would become. Her nursery was later decorated in butterflies and after her death the butterfly became a symbol for her. Her name, Jan combined with Vanessa, means “God’s Gracious Butterfly”. I later created Butterfly Footprints in her memory and also as an attempt to give back to the community that walked with me through my grief.
How fitting that today, of all days, I receive this beautiful photo of this sand drawing from CarlyMarie who, for those who are not familiar with her, plays a very large role in the online babyloss community that I mentioned. It’s absolutely breathtaking Carly, and it brought light into my somber day. Thank you. xo

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Dear May, Please Be Gentle

Photo taken in Janessa's memorial garden
The month of May has arrived. Here in New England, its arrival brings the sights and smells of Spring. It promises the arrival of new life to our bleak and gray landscape. In years prior, I anticipated its arrival with excitement. I used to revel in the sounds and colors returning to my outside world. I would become rejuvenated by the life and light it brought back.

In May 2003, the season did fulfill its promise of new life in an abundant way when we welcomed our first born son. After that, May represented the month we received our most treasured gift and blessing. We were enamored with parenthood and were overwhelmed with the love we felt. It was a love we never knew existed before he arrived. May became a month of celebration and I anticipated its arrival for months prior as I planned and readied to celebrate our little boy’s life each year with an over the top party that I enjoyed hosting so very much.

But six years later, May brought us death. Our daughter was born still after passing from a placental abruption. We were overwhelmed with the pain and sorrow that engulfed our souls. It was a pregnancy complication we never knew existed before she died. After that, May became a bittersweet time of the year. I anticipate its arrival, but no longer with excitement, instead it is with both joy and sadness. It is the time of the year that the battle between my immense happiness and my immeasurable grief collide into an eruption of gratitude and sorrow.

Each May 14th, I wake up on my daughter’s birthday without her. I am convinced that is the cruelest experience a human can endure in this life.  In an attempt to honor our love for her, we plan a family day of fun. We make sure to visit her resting spot and we sing Happy Birthday to a cold headstone, instead of feeling her warm arms around us.

Each May 18th, I flashback to the day we buried our little girl. Her small pink-pearly coffin resting atop a table that was set-up above my father’s grave. The scene in my memory still takes my breath away. 

Six years later, I am not sure how to ever be at peace with this part of my story. The part where our daughter was robbed of her life and our lives were robbed of her. What I have made peace with, is that I will mourn her for my entire life.

So each May, I succumb to the waves of sorrow that I long ago stopped fighting. I let them wash over me and each time I find my way back out, I also find another piece of myself. And as each year passes, I know for sure that I am not putting myself back together, but rather, building an entirely new me.

I have a haunting vision of the “old me”, the person I was before the day my daughter died and before I left the hospital empty-handed. I see her, the “old me”, she is still in that hospital room, the room that is set-aside for families like us, for babies who do not cry. I see her there, still holding her lifeless daughter and willing her to breathe. I watch her as she bargains and pleads with the universe to bring her back. I watch as she hums and rocks her baby for the first and last time. I see the moment and the pain deepen as she realizes that no matter how much she loves that precious little girl, she is gone. The universe is not granting her a miracle. I see her and her anguish as she comes to terms with the notion that the moment she walks out of that hospital room, her new life of outliving her daughter becomes a reality, and that, that is when that part of my soul decided to stay there, forever.

The day I left the hospital, there was a part of me that knew I was leaving more than just my baby behind. The moment I stepped into the corridor, I left my old life and my old self behind in that room. 

I think she, the “old me”, will always live there, in that dimension of time and space. Although I am no longer even recognizable as the woman I was before my daughter’s death, we will of course always be connected, the “old me” and myself. And maybe that is why I find it so incredibly easy to find myself there in that room for a moment or two each day. And why I can still, six years later, feel the weight of my daughter in my arms, smell her sweet smell, feel that intense pain in my chest, hear the hospital noises, and of course the most deafening sound of all, the silence from my daughter. The jump to this life to that moment is my most easily accessible and vivid memory. And maybe, its because there is a piece of my soul still dwelling there. A ghost of a woman left behind at the most pivotal point in her existence. The part of me, the mother who just wanted to stay in that moment with her baby forever.

So as May rolled in this year, and for the past five years, I whispered my thankfulness for both of my May babies and I made a plea to the universe and begged it to be gentle and take mercy on my heart. 

And I pray, and hope, and wish, that this time, the universe answers my appeal. 

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