August 5th 2014
When I strip it all away, what’s left? If I heal the parts of her story that are hurt and anger and unfairness and injustice and resentment, what will be left? Will her story mean less? If I forgive the people who hurt me when I was so vulnerable and so broken, then am I betraying her? Am I saying it was ok for those things to happen because she wasn’t worth defending? How do I decide that I want the bad parts to go away, when it will make her story so much less detailed. If I strip it all away… What’s left? How do I find the courage to figure this out, without betraying myself. Can I grieve without all my resentment? Can I give up my anger and find grace?
I have been struggling with this for a long time. I’ve said before that I don’t want to heal, because I fear it will make her disappear, or somehow mean less.
But I think I figured it out. I think I know what’s left. It sounds cliche and cheesy. But it is true. It’s Love. It all hurt so much because I love her. It made me angry because I love her fiercely. It felt unfair because no one could possibly love her the way I do, and because I couldn’t make them understand how much I love her. How much I will love her every single day of my life, for the rest of my life, because she will never ever stop being my daughter. I carried her, I held her, I buried her, and it completely broke me. But I have carried on anyway. And I got even more hurt along the way. By people who shouldn’t have damaged me. By people who should have been more careful.
I never considered myself a courageous person until recently. I found a way to look at myself more carefully. I realised just how hard it was to do all the things I did. And I didn’t realise that until 2 years after she was already gone. It is not simple to find clothes that you know your micro preemie sized baby will wear in their coffin. It’s not easy to tell your friends and family that your baby is seriously ill you are choosing to end a life that is so very precious and so very wanted. It’s not easy going to a hospital to have a baby that you will never bring home. It takes bravery to give birth to your child who won’t take a breath. It takes courage to carry your dead baby to the morgue and leave them there. And I did all those things, and more. I did them because I love her. I didn’t think anything of doing them. I let people think they were easy because I never imagined not doing them. And then I resented people for not acknowledging how strong I was. How strong I am. I wanted them to allow me to be broken, but respect my courage. I had complex needs, and they were disappointed, time and time again. But, now, I need to be brave again. Now I need to find trust in their intentions. I need to believe that they did what they did, and said what they said, from a place of love. And from their own grief. Grief that is not like mine, for their grief can be shelved, brought out on anniversaries and birthdays and acceptable days, not ever present like mine. But it is grief none the less. And I need to give myself the gift of hearing what I wanted them to say, by telling it to myself.
I am courageous. I am strong. I did not deserve what happened to me. It was not fair. I have been gracious and true to myself, even when it was unimaginably hard. I love my daughter. I deserve to grieve however I need. I can take all the time I need to heal. I am allowed to be angry. I am still a good person. I am doing my best. I am good enough. I love my daughter. I miss my daughter. I am allowed to.
I. Am. Brave.
I’ve been asked before, in a different situation, in another facet of my grief, why I did what I did for her. And the answer was the same. Love. It’s all for the love of her. I give to charity in her name because I love her. I honour her, publically, because I love her. I grieve her fiercely and intensely because I love her. I get hurt easily about my grief because it’s so personal and so raw and so individual because I. Love. Her.
I don’t want to give up the sadness. I can’t foresee a day where it won’t be true to say “I am sad my daughter died”. I want to be allowed my sadness. I don’t live in that darkness, it’s not a constant, but I want to be able to visit my sadness when I need it. I don’t want to need an occasion for my grief to be respected. And I am still angry that it happened to me. But I am letting go of the anger at the people around me. I am not forgetting them, for I can’t change them and they have so strongly shaped how I have been affected by her death. But I am moving past them. I am looking at those people beyond those acts, finding a way to see them without those parts. I don’t need to be angry at people to still love HER. I don’t need her story to be perfect to still love her. I would love her however her story went. And even if my support had been perfect and no one had hurt me, I wouldn’t miss her any less. If everyone had said exactly the right thing, and done exactly the right thing, she will be still be the exact same dead and I would be broken the exact same. So I am choosing to make those parts matter less. To remember more that I love her regardless of any of it. Grief is so fluid, but that is the constant. She is constant. Just her. Just love.
So when I strip it all back that’s what’s left. Nothing can take that part away. Nothing can make that part less. Nothing will ever change that part of the story. Without the anger, and betrayal and resentment it’s still there. The part that matters most. I love her. I will always love her. That is enough.