Five years ago today. Facebook informs me, I wrote this post: “Baby Amy was born this morning around 7 AM. She was perfect and tiny but only 23.5 weeks old and did not survive. We are doing as well as can be expected and should get to go home tomorrow. Thank you for the incredible outpouring of support.”
Of course, I didn’t need Facebook to tell me that. Friends tell me, you know you can turn that off, right? So it doesn’t show you? But I don’t want to. Do you think, if I turned that off, that I would not remember? I remember. We both do.
It’s five years now, so I remember in bits, in pieces, but I remember. Remember asking, was she going to die, my husband nodding yes. Telling me I’d done my best. Remember the nurses handing her to me, telling her to let them know when I was ready for them to take her, wondering how you know when you’re ready to never see your dead daughter again. Remember how relieved I was that the nightmare of that 5 days was, at least, over. How guilty I felt to be relieved. How immediately certain I was that we would try again.
I look like a normal person, we look like a normal family, but I remember in every family picture, someone is missing. Every holiday, someone is missing. That my oldest child is not my first. That the answer to “how many kids do you have” is just not that simple.
And I remember that five years ago from tomorrow, a very kind person I didn’t even really know directed me to a place called Glow in the Woods, and this was on the home page, and I read it with tears streaming down my face.
And now, I’m on the other side.
I don’t, really, know why I’m waiting here. I don’t have much to offer, just my own singular experience, but if it can help you, it’s yours. I never did get that letter, the administrative error, and like so many before me I can not help but realize if I had, my other two children likely wouldn’t exist.
And I also can’t tell you the first time that I remembered that little baby, that once was mine, and smiled rather than cried. When I saw her, rather than only her absence heavily outlined in red. When I looked at that empty chair and nodded. In acknowledgement of where she might have been. When I looked back and thought to myself, I can’t believe that I made it this far. But I did.
When everything else was burnt away and all that remained was love.
I can’t offer you a map. I can’t offer you any guarantees. I can’t tell you how to fix this because I don’t think that it can be fixed.
I can only tell you that the joy of my life did not end.
It really, really didn’t.
To my daughter Amy, on her birthday – we still miss you.