Visceral reaction

This was written one sleepless night July 29, 2009 at 3:45 a.m., three days after Anna went to heaven. It has been edited to make a few parts make sense. Please note, this may be difficult to read. -Steve

I miss my baby.

Now I’m fine.

Now I look at her picture and I’m no longer fine. I get up and life seems ‘normal’ with the bustle of things to do. Shouldn’t I be changing a diaper? Who’s holding Anna? When will it be my turn to hold her. Monday I woke up to feed the cats and didn’t fall back to sleep. I was exhausted but the sleep didn’t come. I re-lived the events in the hospital. The terrible ones … not the peaceful beautiful ones. I remembered the chest compressions to keep Anna alive while they tried everything they could to help her. This lifesaving gesture, although necessary, is not the gentle bounce that would normally help her over any discomfort. I remember calling people to pray. To pray that my baby would return to my arms exactly as she was before. That she would sleep soundly on my chest … that I would say to her once again, “Let’s take a walk” … that we would walk around inside or out–despite the time of day–to calm her cries and help her find sleep.

All of the rules have changed. Last week I wondered if Anna would be teased in high school. Pondered whether or not she would have any delays … mental or physical. I wondered what our days would be like when Henry was in school. I thought about where I would take her in our time alone while Nora and Henry were at school. I considered whether or not she would like to play by herself while I took a call for work or if I would sit with her and play while on a conference call or would I need a sitter. I thought about things in the near future and in the far off future. I mused about details of her life that no-one could know. What type relationship would the three kids have? Who would be closer? The girls? One of the girls and Henry? Which one and why?

I wrote a letter to Nora when she was born. It took me months to get to it. I don’t know where it is right now but it’s somewhere. I didn’t ‘get to’ Henry’s letter yet. It’s started but it is more notes and ideas than a final draft. These letters are comments to an infant that I have just met but for whom I have so much to give. Perhaps it’s me projecting myself on them a bit. Maybe I’m trying so very hard not to expect them to be what I want them to be, but rather to simply give them the freedom to become who THEY are and want to be. It’s the dreams and aspirations that they have that I want to buttress and yet step back from and let them stand on their own. These things are what these letters are about. Now I am faced with another letter to write that I didn’t fit in. A letter that I know the end to. I read the last chapter. Now how can I start over and enjoy the book? I don’t want the last chapter to come. I want to bask in the glow of the incredible story. I want to drink in the delicious tale and savor it’s sweet relaxing taste. Yes, I know the ending but I want to forget it … until it’s time. There will be a time to remember the last chapter. Right now it is ever present in my mind.

With the exception of sleeping, my body works just fine. I can do everything that needs to get done for the funeral. I can work if I needed to or run errands or whatever. But every once and a while, the slightest thing will suddenly well up inside of me and bring me to tears in an instant. There is no warning, no formula. There is only tears. Drops of salt and water and an inability to speak for a moment or minutes or more. Sometimes fleeting and sometimes lasting but each time …. painful. Not bodily but somehow worse. There is no aspirin or ice pack or band aid that can help. Hopefully with time this will heal. I want it to stop.

I want my baby back. I would take her place. I would spare my family the pain that is losing a baby. A baby that has been here for such a short time that one might forget after the baby things are put away. One might forget if it was just ‘stuff’ that you didn’t need anymore. Yes, one might forget the stuff or the cries or maybe even some of the details but I won’t forget that little smile that would creep across her face to welcome us to the day. The occasional grip of my finger … even though she wasn’t into gripping. The quiet breathing as she slept on my chest … becoming one with me as I breathed with her. The quiet moments when I held her and she wasn’t doing anything but in that moment I knew that I loved this little, tiny bundle with all of my heart and soul. A connection that I suddenly “got” after having kids. I understand why parents are so crazy regarding their kids. You can’t quantify the immeasurable joy that children bring without “doing” anything. I’m sure psychologists have ideas as to why that is but there isn’t anything stronger than that connection. That need to be near, to touch, to help, to lift up, to protect, to sacrifice all things for this child that is part of you.

And then she was gone. And now what? I don’t know how to do this. I can’t find a website that has the answers for me. Everyone tells me that nothing can be said to help. “How are you doing?” “I’m so sorry.” “Let me know if there is anything I can do.” There aren’t words. There aren’t answers. Luckily, I know that my little angel, Anna is quietly resting in heaven. No, maybe not. She’s probably walking … or maybe even running. At the very least she is sitting up passing out smiles to anyone who wants one. She is making heaven a better place as she did here on earth. She’s happy. She’s filled with complete joy and peace. She might look down on us but it is through the veil of the blood of Jesus that takes all sin and sorrow away. She doesn’t see us mourning her death. She sees us living in remembrance of her just as we remember the life and resurrection of Jesus. She sees a celebration of her life. Memories of her smiles. Memories of how wonderful it was to hold her little frame. To support her head and body as she wasn’t quite strong enough to do it herself. She didn’t expect it of us but she really liked it. She would sleep in the crib for us but she’d rather stay in our arms. “Why don’t you just hold onto me a bit longer. I’ll go with you, Daddy. I’ll be good. Take me with you.”

I miss her so much. I miss that beautiful girl so very, very much. I want to take all of Jenn’s pain away. I would rather it crush me completely than to have it hurt even a little for Jenn, Nora or Henry. I will be strong for them. That might mean being strong enough to cry with them. Strong enough to hold them when it simply hurts all of us so much. Strong enough to laugh through life. To take all that good that Anna shared with us and channel it into being better. Better from the pain. Better for the world. To live and remember her without the pain … most of the time … and to focus on the amazing 80 long days that we enjoyed as a family of five. All together, everyday. To enjoy the photos of each and every day that capture the personality and charm of our little one and the memories they will share with anyone who will really listen to them.

One comment.

  1. Thank you for sharing. I’m not sure I could ever put into words how I feel about anything, let alone something so personal and painful. And to do it so eloquently… I too, “got it” after having kids. So maybe I understand just a little. I miss her too. And I love you, your wife, your beautiful children….each one of them.

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