My daughter, Grace, was stillborn.
One day she was growing and healthy and beautifully alive inside my womb, then without warning she was simply gone.
Her heart beat until it didn’t.
I always wonder what I was doing the moment that her heart stopped and the sweet spirit that was hers left her body – and mine. Was I in the grocery store? Was I sitting in class? Was I sleeping or working or reading? Was I thinking of her dad and missing him?
Shouldn’t I have known the moment that her life faded away and her heart stopped? Shouldn’t my heart have stopped in that precise moment too?
I didn’t know. And my heart didn’t stop.
But I broke when I heard those words, “I’m sorry. We can’t find a heartbeat. She is gone.”
I broke with those words.
People like to say that grief is healed by time. The assumption is that somehow the passing of time will put all that death and loss and trauma breaks back together again.
It would be nice if time was some kind of magical potion to heal the wounds of grief and loss. I would love to have time be the savior that fixes the devastation and destruction of the death of my daughter.
But time is not magic and it isn’t a savior. Time is simply time.
Healing from the death of a child takes more than time. It is a fight for life – a fight to live and breathe and exist without the precious being whose heart once beat beneath your heart.
In the 14 years since my daughter’s heart stopped beating, I have fought to live. I have fought hard to pick up those broken pieces of myself and create a life full of meaning and joy and beauty and love. I fought a bloody battle with depression and suicide. I waged war with the dark abyss of grief and clawed my way back to the light.
Every good and beautiful thing in my life now exists because I fought like hell and never gave up.
I cried the oceans of tears. I raged against the dark and the broken and the utter senselessness of the death of babies. I crawled out of bed and opened the blinds to the sun when depression grabbed at my feet to drag me into the numbing gray.
I chanted her name, Grace, over and over again like a lifeline when the waves of unbearable grief swallowed me whole. I wrote and wrote and wrote all the words I needed to say but couldn’t bring myself to speak. I battled against the guilt and the unanswerable questions that loss leaves behind. I sat in the ruins of the life I expected to have and searched until my hands were bloodied and bruised for meaning and purpose to make life worthwhile again.
I fought like hell to be a mother she would have been proud of. I fought with fierce determination to be a woman she could have aspired to be.
I fought like a warrior to live and become that woman and mother I am today.
I am not the only one.
Every mother and every father I know who has survived death of their child is a warrior. They have fought the bloody battle against brokenness and grief and loss. They have fought like hell for life and beauty and joy and love. The battle of grief is a fight for love.
Times doesn’t heal all wounds.
To belittle the courage and bravery of grieving mothers and fathers by distilling it down to the mere passing of time is insulting.
We fought like warriors to turn those wounds into battle scars – battle scars worn as symbols of a fierce and persistent love for our children and determination to honor life even beyond death.
Don’t tell me time heals all wounds. Time merely passes. Life is fought for and cherished.
We fight for life as we fought for and continue to cherish our children – no matter how much time has passed.
Because love is timeless. And it is always worth fighting for.