Making (no) sense of things

Celebrate we will
Because life is short but
sweet for certain
(Dave Matthews)

Sometimes I look at my daughter and, for just half a second, I think, "What if she . . . wasn't?" What if she simply wasn't here? My brain can't fully form the thought. I've tried, but her presence - her spirit -  is simply too big to picture a life without her. She makes me laugh so hard that my eyes water. She makes me so angry that I have to count to 10 so that I don't throw her iPad in the driveway and run over it with my car. She makes me so proud that when she's in swim class or choir rehearsal or even just playing video games at Chuck E Cheese, I secretly hope that someone will ask me "Which one is yours?" so that I can give them an incredulous look and respond, "Why, the best one. Of course." I mean, duh. Sometimes, my daughter slips and calls me, "Mama" (I'm usually just "Mom" these days) and I think my heart might explode in my chest. I can scarcely remember a time before this curly-haired dynamo ruled my days.

I won't get all pro-life-y on you here. I'm not a pro-life person but nor am I a staunchly pro-choice person. I think that when you find that you cannot have kids the old-fashioned way (and suffer four miscarriages), it certainly colors your view of such things. As such, there are times when I can't help but think about my daughter's birthmom and the hard decision she made. A decision that means that her heart will always be just a little bit broken, in a way that's not fixable. The world, though, is just a little more awesome because of her sacrifice and selflessness. This is the dichotomy of adoption - happiness and sadness all wrapped up in one story.

I think about how happy my daughter makes my parents (plus: her aunts, uncles, cousins, and everyone who loves her). I think about how many friends she has and how she loves to hug everyone. She has the gift of making everyone around her feel special. I think of her fashion sense. I think of how she lies about dumb things. I think about her impossible-to-comb curls and her beautiful green eyes. I think about how she spends most of her morning singing inappropriate song lyrics and admiring herself in the mirror instead of getting ready for school. I think of all the places we've gone (the three of us, as a family) and the adventures we've had. It's good. It's all so very, very good.

A few years ago, a woman named Sam started reading my blog. I can't recall how she found it. She left comments on my blog that were funny, sharp, and insightful (and on one occasion she busted me for some clumsy wording I had used, which came across as being slightly offensive - and she was right). Eventually we connected on Facebook. She lives several states away from me and unfortunately, I've never met her in person. I like to think that if we lived near each other, we'd get along famously. (Well, until she came to realize how annoying I am.)  Yesterday, Sam's five-week-old baby died of SIDS. Amirah was a beautiful dark-haired girl who probably would have given her older brothers a run for their money in the spunk department.

What does one say? I mean, if there is one occasion when the English language fails us, it's this one. Like everyone else, I offered my condolences to Sam and her husband, though the words did not come easily. I cannot begin to imagine how they must feel. I suppose they probably feel leaden or maybe shell-shocked. Just how does a parent start to process and grieve the death of their child? I can't even offer a guess. My hope for them is that they find the strength to move forward. As parents to two young boys, there's really no other way. I hope they find a way to cherish and honor the five weeks they spent with their sweet baby girl. I'm sure they will do just that.

I know that people always want to take a lesson from everything that happens. They want to say things like, "Everything happens for a reason."  I can't imagine taking any sort of lesson from the passing of a newborn. If there is a reminder to be had, it's simply the oldie-but-goodie: take nothing for granted. Life is precious and short and sweet. And sometimes bad things happen for no reason.

Sam, I am so sorry that you will never have a chance to tell your daughter to brush her teeth or to stop dilly-dallying. Or to try to stop her from singing inappropriate song lyrics that she heard on Top 40 radio. I'm so sorry that you'll miss out on the good things and the not-so-good things that the future might have held for your daughter.

As for me . . . I will try to yell at mine a little less and to praise her a little more. And yes, never to take her for granted.


mmsva said…
I used to also think that everything happened for a reason. It helps to make a little sense out of a crazy world. Then I had a stillbirth. People have tried to comfort me by saying that "everything happens for a reason". But I just can't think of any reason for me to lose my sweet baby boy who was very, very much wanted (and worked for) and loved. There just isn't any reason for me to lose my son and your friend to lose her daughter. And if there was a reason, it's not good enough. There is no reason good enough to take a child from a parent, none.

So realizing that not everything has a reason has made me feel anchorless and question the universe and God. If this doesn't have a reasoon, then maybe there is no reason for anything. So while ponder my new life order, I keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep moving forward and find the joy where I can.

Your friend is going through the worst thing she will ever have to go through. And it will feel like she will never come out the other side. But she will. Not the same as she was when she went in, but she will emerge eventually. The best thing you can do is never forget her baby girl's birthday and death day. Do not worry that by bringing her up, you will be stiring some painful memories. The memories are always right under the surface. The most painful thing is feeling like your child is forgotten. So say her name often and lovingly.
Alabaster Mom said…
If this comment was written by the person who I think wrote it . . . I thought of you as well when I wrote this blog entry. I also thought of Melinda, who bonded with me and the other moms of May 2005 babies who met on BabyCenter years ago. Her daughter died at age 7. She is still part of the "gang" of course, and we all tell her how we never forget Brianna's smile (Brianna was mostly non-verbal and had many medical issues, but wow, did that girl light up a room). I also thought of a co-worker who lost a baby years ago. She was due to have a c-section and the baby (Erin, if I remember correctly) died the night before the surgery was scheduled. I recall her saying something like, "Why didn't I schedule it a day earlier?" I mean, can you imagine the guilt? (Even though she did nothing wrong, of course.)

For me, "Everything happens for a reason" is right up there with "It's all part of God's plan." I remember asking people about this after one of my miscarriages. I needed someone to explain to me how a deceased fetus is part of God's plan.

I don't know how to make sense of your pain any more than I know how to make sense of Sam's pain . . . or Melinda's or Jackie's. I think you're right about the remembering, though. It's important to honor and to remember.

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