As we drove Haley to a play date yesterday, so she could catch a break from her parents and her own toys, she asked me, "Mommy? Is your heart broken?" Yes, sweetie. It is. It's broken for me, and the child I will never hold. It's broken for your daddy, who lost one of his daddy's girls. It's broken for you, because you are such an amazing big sister, and you can't even experience it for your three year old self to understand. It's broken for you that you have to see your Mommy so sad. I'm so sorry, sweet girl.
Yesterday was a hard day. I can't articulate all of why, though I know the reasons. Yes I shared smiles. I even laughed a few times. It's a difficult balance, and one I'm sure I'll never maintain - if people see me smiling and laughing, they'll assume I'm doing better. They'll assume I'm moving on. It will confuse them if they see me smiling and laughing, and then they see me shedding tears, or crumpling into an emotional heap. "She was fine yesterday...?"
Will people be annoyed when I talk about Harlynn months from now? Will they tire of me missing my child?
Frankly, I don't care. I can't care. Everyone has hurts, everyone has struggles, and each one is so personal. So individualistic. Even for those who have walked the road of losing a child, each story and each situation is so different from anyone else's. I can't understand anyone else's pain or agony simply because we have this tragedy in common. I can only understand that their pain and agony exist, and rightly so. I pray people understand that in my case. In our case. My broken heart, and all of its pieces, are real. It will never fix completely, it will never be whole until I meet the One who gave it to me in the beginning. There will always be pain that seeps between each piece, even in the midst of joy.
Yesterday I felt very vulnerable. Very fragile. I wanted so badly to go to church and sing songs and just pour my heart into worship. Instead, the physical pain kept me sitting down. The emotional pain kept me in tears. And the spiritual pain kept me distanced. I'm jealous, folks. I'm jealous He has my baby girl, my Harlynn, and I don't. He welcomed her into His loving arms, and I held her lifeless body. I want so badly to draw near to Him and find His comfort, but I'm so hesitant to seek Him.
Don't set her down to carry me, Lord. I'm not mad at you, but I am. Don't make me seek you, because I don't have the strength to go looking. Just show up. Just. Something.
This morning after everyone left the house, I went and took the pictures the nurse took of Harlynn out of the little bag they were in. It was so hard for me to look at them after coming home. They're not edited. They're very real, almost gruesome, shots of Harlynn and her lifelessness. When a baby is stillborn, their skin is paper thin and it wears away during delivery and afterwards. Their lips are red or purple, almost like they're wearing lipstick. It's not easy for just anyone to see. Today, though, I wanted to see the pictures. I wanted to look past the worn skin, and see how beautiful she was. See how real she was. Remind myself how perfectly pouty her little lips were. See that she had my toes - the funky little pinky toe that lays sideways instead of straight. It was much cuter on her feet than on mine. I wanted to see all of her. I found myself "awww" ing over her little features. I'm so glad I have those pictures, hard as they may be to see sometimes.
I knew today in general would be a challenge. Brent went back to work today, Haley is at daycare, and I am at home. I have lots of plans to keep myself busy today. Some of them even involve a little bit of pampering. Before I ran my errands or indulged in spa treatments, I had one stop I was going to make. The most important stop of my day.
I got in the car and headed to the cemetery. I couldn't stand that it has been nearly a week since we laid her to rest there, and I haven't been back. I wanted to go today. I wanted to sit with her, and be as much of her Mommy as I could. I was headed south when I saw the blockades.
No, no, no...Please don't have it closed off....
I turned the car around and took a different route, further south, directly to the entrance of the cemetery. Road closed. The city is doing preparation for the flood we're expecting, and had the street blocked off so they could dike. The flood. The natural occurrence that makes everyone sick of living here once a year. The swearword flood.
I parked the car in front of a house and watched them work a while. I could see the gate to the cemetery directly in front of me, open, yet I couldn't get in. I considered walking. They were all in hardhats and vests - would they yell at me for infringing on their work space? If I walked in, how far would I have to walk to find her grave? Would I be able to find it? Would they chase after me if I ran past them? Could they make me leave? I didn't have the strength to find the answers.
I called the cemetery, hoping they would tell me there was a back entrance I had somehow never known about. There wasn't one. "Maybe try to come back tomorrow...." I hung up. I fell apart. It's one thing not to be able to hold my baby. Not to be able to have her with me. Now, I can't even sit at her grave site. I can't be with her period.
I was experiencing two simultaneous meltdowns. One of sitting in my car, crying, and just repeating, "Lord please, Lord please, Lord please...." over and over again. I don't know what I was asking for. I may never know. But they were the only words I could muster. The other meltdown was taking place in my head; it was the meltdown I wanted to have, complete with a few choice swear words. Hitting something. I heard myself speaking, "Lord please...." and continued with that meltdown instead. Crying behind the steering wheel, watching the city workers who had no idea a grieving mother was mere feet from them, longing to be even as close as they were to my child.
Reluctantly, I turned the car around and drove away. "Mommy tried, Harlynn. I'm so sorry. Mommy tried."
I ran my errands. I came home. I sat down to type.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~ Isaiah 41:10
May it be so, God. Please.
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