Guest post by Jo-Anne
Every day I take one step ahead from where I used to be. I place one foot in front of the other, I struggle, I stumble, I even fall, but I proceed. I press on.
I do this because she must never be forgotten, she is there in my darkest hours and the dawn of a new day, she is there as the rain crashes against the glass windows and patters on the rooftops, she is there as the sun scorches my skin, in every smile, in every tear, in my helpless defeat and my victorious hour, she is there, stillborn but still born, is what she will always be. An angel who came into my life took it over, transformed it into today.
I will never regret it; I will never wish it away, it happened, she happened and that is my reality. It’s been two months, two weeks and two days since we met. I am reminded every day of what I have lost. My Zia Sarai, I wonder why I named her Princess of Light, was there a divine message in that?
Is there something I felt in my heart which caused me to bestow it upon my child? My second child, my daughter, My Light.
Pregnancy is one of those beautiful mysteries in life, like the fact that at any given time you’re walking around with two hearts, two noses, two mouths, four hands, and legs. Every one thing is duplicated. The beauty in that memory is both hurtful and comforting. Hurtful because she is not with me but comforting because it’s what my memories of Zia are made of.
On 16 July 2013, I was 33 weeks and one day pregnant. My day started like any other; I went into the maternity ward like I did two times before because she wasn’t moving enough, my day was ok until I was told that my baby had passed away, that there was no heartbeat. Five hours later I was in the labour ward, having a C-section and being handed the loveliest baby in the world.
I held her in my arms for the first time, and I said goodbye as the tears streamed down my face. An hour later I listened to her dad sing her the Barney song while she slept unmoving and unresponsive. She was a beautiful baby, so small and so sweet, tiny hands and tiny feet, the smallest fingers and toes I have ever seen. Her hands were across her chest; that’s how I will always remember her.
It’s been a struggle because in my world babies didn’t die, they were born awake, not sleeping, they came home and kept you up all night, and they have colic and vomit on the new set of clothes you dress them in. In my world, there were no cord accidents.
My eyes are opened now; I now live in a different world where pregnancy doesn’t always end in a live baby. I live in a world where my daughter cannot be touched, seen, heard or felt, she cannot be experienced. I live in a world where I miss my daughter every second of the day, a world where my four-year son misses and longs for the sister he talked to while in mummy’s tummy but who he never saw.
We told him she is an angel now and that she surrounds him all the time, his innocent heart believes she can come back somehow. That if he says he loves her and if mummy gets better, Zia will find a way back to us. Oh, how I wish I had that confidence in the power of love, indeed it surpasses all understanding.
Indeed it continues and that not even death can separate us, but love cannot bring her back.
We are a family of four, and we will always be that, as we continue this journey we will take Zia along with us. There will always be a place for her at our table; there will still be a birthday we celebrate for our angel in heaven. There will always be sadness at the thought of what could be, but we will strive because we need to, because we have to, because we are her hands, feet, eyes, and mouth.
We are the story of Zia, we are the ones who keep her story alive.
Every day we live, we bare witness that she was here. We light a candle for her, we send her helium balloons, we speak her name, and we hold her in our hearts.
This is not the end of me; this is not the end of Zia.
I choose to unveil the darkness and allow her light to surround us.
I am her storyteller.