We started our day by taking a family trip to the cemetery to place flowers on Harlynn's grave. Purple flowers. There was another woman there, who walked over and introduced herself to us. She was the mother-in-law of the mom I met the week before. She had three grandchildren buried within feet of each other. She wanted to hug me and let me know she was so sorry, and she knew what this pain felt like. We cried as we hugged. These weren't just tears of understanding - these were tears of suffering for having to visit the children we love by coming to their resting place. I knew in life, Harlynn would be adorable enough to draw complete strangers in to admire her, and strike up conversation. I never imagined in her death, how many people she would bring into our lives to comfort us, encourage us, or come alongside us as we mourn losing her.
I spent much of the day fighting tears and thinking about the fact that only half of my children were with me. I thought about what made me a mommy. I thought about the long road Brent and I had to walk with even bringing Haley into the world, and how we were so excited to be able to give her a younger sister. To laugh with. To conspire with. To love as only sisters can. I thought about the moment they placed my precious, lifeless Harlynn on my chest. I thought about what I had imagined this Mother's Day to be like, and what it was instead.
As nightfall set in, I became restless. I couldn't sleep, and I was using all of the strength I had left to avoid breaking down. Brent and Haley were so wonderful, and I didn't want to add to any emotional stress they may have been feeling in trying to make it a good day for me. As I lay in bed facing the wall, I noticed the two pictures hanging up. I bought them probably eight or nine years ago at JC Penny in Billings. I was struck by their sudden representation. On the left, three jars with wispy flowers, sparse but present. On the right, one vase filled with vibrant, full, purple flowers. Our family pictures. Three plus one. Three together trying to figure out how to live, one separate, flourishing and fully alive. I clutched my comfort bear and cried silently until I could hear Brent sleeping beside me.
I am a mother to two beautiful girls. I love Haley, my mini-me, more than I can aptly express. I love Harlynn. I always will love her, and just as intensely as I love Haley. It doesn't matter if Harlynn lived 37 weeks, 37 years, or 37 decades; it would never be enough time for me to show her how much I love her. No matter how much time I have with Haley on this earth, I'll never be able to shower her with enough love.
There are moments I find myself questioning how we've made it this far, this long, without our little Harlynn. There are moments I find myself questioning how we'll be able to make it any further. There are moments where I cry out in anger and sadness for not having the chance to be the family I yearned to be with her. There are moments I am so consumed by grief I can't do anything but weep.
But there are moments where I have Haley in my arms, when I hear her giggle, and I know that being her mommy is the greatest honor there is. There are moments when I kiss her owies and fix her dolly's dress that qualify me for being her hero. There are moments when she gives me hugs and kisses that make tantrums and timeouts worth the struggle.
There are moments where even when my heart is aching for what we've lost, it beats because of what we have.
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