There were times in the past year where I found myself jotting down emotions and thoughts through those darker, harder moments. I've smushed them all together to make a post for anyone going through a difficult journey. We all walk different paths and our darkness can look different, but the one constant is that the Light and our faith are able to take precedence in the hardest of times.
And it's been a long December
And there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
That month seemed to carry on long after all the calendars were thrown away and forgotten. A couple weeks following their birth it was a new year, but nothing felt new. Nothing changed. There were no resolutions and no excitement. It was just another day.
The weeks following December 15, 2014 felt like a bad dream - the kind where you know what's going on. You can see it all, but everything around you is blurred and dark. Except the fear in front of you. There's a spotlight shining down on that so you don't forget about it. All of your pain and fear is illuminated. And even worse than that, there is no escape.
During that time, I feared this feeling would linger far longer than I wanted or could even handle. That the darkness that continuously hovered and hung over my shoulders would never lift away. It was difficult to see ahead because the fear and pain were blinding. Hope seemed out of my grasp.
Shamefully, I was scared to love my daughter. Of course I loved her, but readily giving her any large part of myself seemed careless because the fear of losing her was greater than anything else in my small world. I wasn't capable of losing another child. I couldn’t do it. Fear took over my faith and life was miserable.
Looking back and attempting to captivate the emotions I felt during this time is a bit overwhelming. My life had become the perfect storm for pain. The present was devastating and the future was unpredictable, but worse than being unpredictable, it was mostly grim. Those emotions and memories will forever be so vivid in my mind. When I think back, it becomes a feeling that I will always remember. The memories hit me in the gut and I remember what it felt like to have my life shattered into pieces just lying around me – out of reach and unrepairable.
Those feelings, the sounds, the smells, the view of my fragile baby, and the wondering of my own thoughts, when revived in my mind, hurt just as badly as they did at the time, but coming out on the other side makes them bearable when I do go back to that time.
I've mentioned before I try to never question God. That's not my role. But I do specifically remember the drive to the funeral home. It was two days after the girls' birth and Mary Elliott's death. Chris and I were in the car alone. Hand in hand. It was dark and cloudy with a slight mist in the air. The weather seemed to mirror our emotions. As we turned off our street, I verbalized the cold truth. We were 30 years old and driving to the funeral home to discuss the plans for our late daughter. At that moment I confessed to God that I just didn't understand. Why are we driving to see and kiss our baby girl for the last time? With the gift of time, I’ve come to realize that trying to comprehend the whys in life isn’t always necessarily my role. It’s easy to worry yourself to the point of sickness when you dwell on trying to figure out everything. Thankfully, my faith has allowed me to have peace and trust in God’s reasons – it’s not always easy, but it is enough.
The smell of hospitals in winter
And the feeling that it's all a lot of oysters, but no pearls
All at once you look across a crowed room
To see the way that light attaches to a girl
Being in the hospital in winter - through the holiday and through the new year - it's a very eerie feeling. Something you don't want to experience. It's sad. Not just for the reasons you are there, but also for the unknown reasons everyone you pass is in there. It's uncomfortable. Like being homesick. There was nowhere else we would have been, but it also felt like being a prisoner.
Despite the chilling sounds of monitors, the spotlight shining down on my fragile, weak daughter, and grim updates from doctors in those first few weeks, as time passed and I was able to pull myself together, deep in my heart, I had peace. I had this undeniable feeling that our daughter would leave that NICU perfectly healthy. All statistics were against her, but I was beginning to see a beautiful outcome - a healthy one we wanted for our daughter before she was even conceived.
I've never talked about this feeling of peace I had, but it was very present. It wasn't immediate, but it wasn't long after the start of her journey. We hadn't received much good news and she wasn't close to passing any milestones, but I knew.
I specifically remember hearing from nurses or other professionals different possible scenarios - “preemies usually have… this or that... to deal with throughout the rest of their lives.” I received the information as something to possibly prepare us for if/when that time came, but I also remember, a lot of the time, thinking not our Sadie Ann, she’s strong and is an overcomer. Her story is different. I felt like her being a micropreemie was more so a means to an end. And that’s what my mindset became. This was the peace that passed all understanding (Philippians 4:7). It never made the journey easy, but it restored all my hope and did help me make it through those hard days.
And that peace I had proved to be her story.
So it finally feels like that year is over.
I'm thankful to put this past year behind me. I didn't know if it would ever end and then it was over before I could catch my breath. This year has been so significant in my life - it's has strengthened my faith, strengthened my relationship with my husband, it has taught me that even in the depths of great sorrow, great pain, great fear, and unpredictable futures there can be light. There can be significant lessons learned. It is possible to walk out of a storm better off and stronger than you ever imagined.
Although the pain of loss carries on for a lifetime, the joy of children and motherhood (whether they are in your arms or not) also carries on. And it's a gift I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.
Despite an undesirable year, we are thankful.
We move forward.
And we can laugh again.
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.