He said it all and more to the point than I could. Go see for yourself here. This is what we deal with, what we try to process, every minute of every day.
I do have reminders. Constant reminders. The bruise on my arm from when they drew blood is fading, but still present. The pain and discomfort from recovering from a fast and furious delivery is very evident, daily. Trying to keep my shirts dry from lactating. Producing food for a baby I should be feeding, but who isn't here. My belly. The very belly that I felt her moving in constantly, to the point where I nicknamed her "Jackie Chan", is hollow. It's still big, but it's empty. My ring-less finger. I couldn't wear a ring in the end of pregnancy because my fingers were too big. When I finally could get it on, after wearing it for just a few days, the stone snapped off my band. I just want to wear my wedding ring. I want the world to know, to see by my hand, I have a man who has stood beside me in the darkest days of our lives, and whose strength, faith, and poise are more important to me than they were nearly ten years ago when we walked down the aisle together.
Oddly as it may seem, I crave these physical reminders. I would carry this bruise to eternity if I could. These physical aches and abnormalities are all I have to hold on to. I proudly carry the scar from Haley's cesarean birth, and I would proudly carry each of these physical reminders of Harlynn's. Your life was not in vain, baby girl. Mommy will fight tooth and nail to make sure you are remembered and treasured for always.
Despite these physical reminders, the biggest reminder of all is the quiet. There is no baby crying in my house. Daddy isn't making remarks about a smelly diaper. Haley isn't yelling at her little sister to stay away from her toys. We're not being woken up at night by infant squeals. Quiet.
In that quiet, we wonder. What would Harlynn have liked? Would she have slept a lot? Would she be fussy? Would she grow up to love dolls, or toy cars? Teddy bears or dinosaurs? What would her giggle sound like? Would her hair be curly like Mommy's, or straight like big sister Haley's? Would she sing? Draw? Love to read? Would she fawn over her Daddy like Haley does? Would they fight each other for attention from him? Would she let me teach her how to knit? Would she drive her big sister nuts, or melt her heart? Was she a snuggler, or because she moved so frequently, would she just want freedom to flail around?
We will always wonder. We will always grieve for the things we'll never know. We will always question each stage, each anniversary of her birth, each anniversary of her due date, each milestone we live without her.
I haven't been able to get to Harlynn's grave site yet because of the flood preparation. I did get close, when I drove the van around the barricades and into the cemetery, but because of all the sandbags and equipment tearing up the roads, I couldn't get there. I nearly got stuck, and had to turn around and sneak out again. I just want to read to her. I want to sing her a lullaby. I know I can do it anywhere, at any time, but I feel like I need to be there. With her body. Away from the quiet of home. Away from people. Away from "normal" life going on around us.
I was going through pictures and videos on my phone last night. I found the picture I took of the dress we had Harlynn buried in. It was the dress my parents brought me home from the hospital in, 32 years ago. I couldn't think of anything else that would make me seem all that closer to her as she rested in such finality. My parents got to bring me home in that dress, and though we would have given anything for the same outcome, it seems fitting that she say goodbye to her earthly home while wearing it.
I also came across a video I took of Jackie Chan Harlynn making my belly move in all sorts of ways. She was a little spitfire. I watched it and wondered how she could be so healthy and active one day, and inexplicably have her heart stop beating the next. I swear I felt her kick me several times first thing that fateful Tuesday morning. I even commented to Brent as he and Haley were getting ready to leave for the day, "She's going crazy." Then the contractions took over, and I couldn't feel anything aside from them the rest of the day. I had no idea. We had no expectation. Like Brent said, this was never an option.
This Tuesday was a hard day. Tuesdays will probably always be hard. I had to stay up until 12:16 again Wednesday morning, though I was so very tired. Wednesday was even harder than Tuesday. It snowed again - it has snowed every Wednesday since she was born. This was probably the last snow we'll get for a while, but it was, in it's own weird way, comforting. I was glad for it. As blessed as the day was, it was still a rough one. My daughter would have been two weeks old. Every day I think of the would-have-beens. The should-bes.
I decided to cash in a gift card and get a pedicure yesterday. I had my toenails painted purple. For Harlynn. I'm not sure what it was that prompted me to have purple be Harlynn's color. I've never really been a fan of it, but for some reason I just knew that in order to honor her, we had to use purple. There was no question yesterday as to which color I would choose for my toes. Purple. As the woman painted my toenails, I thought of my sideways pinky toe, and how Harlynn shared the same feature. It seems so insignificant - a polish color - but my heart filled with love and remembrance as I saw my quirky toe being painted purple.
There is a verse I have always loved, and used as my "life verse" for so many years. Colossians 3:2, "Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things." I find my mind is fixed on heaven. I dream of it, I long for it, I try to picture and imagine all it is and will be. I especially want to know what Harlynn is doing, who she has met, how she adores Jesus. In that, I've found that as each day goes on, it gets a little easier to draw nearer to God. I take one little step closer, I trust Him a little more, and I open my ears to hear what He has to share.
Lord, tell me, does Heaven have purple?
Next: The Cemetery