Well....I did it. I put away the baby clothes Harlynn will never wear. I packed them up, sealed them up, and put them away. Out of sight. Ever close in mind.
The crib is still in-tact. And it's empty. There are no pink sheets. There is no sleeping baby. Just a gray, bare mattress. I've stared at that mattress, at that crib, so many times over the last 12 weeks. Why is she gone? Why did she die? Why is this crib empty? Why are my arms empty?
I've heard, several times, how very strong people think I am. How I've somehow inspired them. I silently grimace at those remarks. Politely accept the compliment, but with total internal disbelief. Disbelief verging on disgust. I don't see myself as weak, but I certainly wouldn't consider myself strong. I exist. And that is all I can do these days. Exist. If being strong means not rolling over to die, then maybe I am. This journey has no road map. The path is long and dark. No one wants to walk it. No one wants to discover what waits on the other side. Does the road ever end? I walk along, and I stumble. I fall. Hard. It hurts. I struggle to stand. Not because I can't, but because I don't want to. I don't want to stand up simply to fall down again. I don't want to go further if it means I'll only get hurt once more. I am not strong. I am calloused.
What does it mean - to be calloused? I have scars. Scars that document each of the milestones along my journey. Wounds that only appear, from the outside, to be healed. Thick skinned. A bodily armor that appears to be able to withstand the blows it receives. And while the outside is hard, and even noble in appearance, the inside is empty. The inside is fragile. The inside is tender, no matter the wounds that close themselves around it.
I do not seek encouragement. I am not fishing for reassurance. I'm not hoping someone tells me, "But Val, you ARE strong." I'm simply telling the truth. The truth is: this is exhausting. This is excruciating. This is unfathomable. And every day, every freaking day, I have to somehow convince myself there are things only I can do. There are things only I can tend to. And I stand up. And I start moving. And I resent every damn step.
This is the sea of sorrow. This is path of brokenness. This is the ugly truth. And this is my life. Every day.
Thank God for Haley. Thank God for the life and light she brings into this dark world. Thank God she gives me poise and purpose. I thank God for Harlynn, too. I miss her. Every moment. Every day. But I thank God for her just as often.
My name is Val. I am a broken mama.
I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. ~Psalm 121:1, 2