We have all been there. We have all experienced a moment in our lives when we have simply felt forgotten. We have all been forgotten for a while. Perhaps a friend overlooked you when you expected a birthday party invite. Maybe you were not picked for a playground game. Maybe you were accidentally excluded on a project at work that you participated in, while everyone else was recognized.
For me, I know what it feels like to be forgotten for a while. As a young teenager I sat on the front porch waiting for my dad to show up on his weekend only to give up after waiting far too long. I have been on the opposite end as a father when my ex decided to keep important events in my own son’s life away from me. Most recently, I have stood at a graveside alone and wondered where everyone else that was there for the burial had disappeared to.
Our little girl was placed into the ground over three years ago, but one of the most memorable moments was the feeling that the instant the under-sized casket was lowered into the ground, everyone around us, it seemed, immediately placed this memory into forgotten catalogs of their minds.
Right at the moment that this memory resurfaces, I can feel the anger and disappointment beginning to rise in my chest. The only problem is, I have another memory of that same time frame that quickly collides with this resentment towards others. This other memory serves as a constant reminder that life goes on even in the midst of the darkest hour.
I hate that life goes on. I hate the word ‘normal’.
For the first several months after losing Bella, we were told countless times that what we were feeling, thinking, expecting and wanting was ‘normal’. I didn’t want to be normal. I wanted our emotions to be as unique and foreign as that of the loss of our child. The irony that such an unexpected tragedy was reduced down to us just fitting into a normal blue print was infuriating at best.
Bella knows what it feels like to be forgotten for a while; not only by friends, family and acquaintances but, unfortunately, by her own father.
The day we delivered our still-born daughter, the nurses would grant our request of having Bella in the room with us as often and as long as we wanted. In the back of my mind, I always wondered where they took her when she wasn’t with us. I knew she wouldn’t be with all of the other babies who were full-of-life as excited families peered with their faces pressed against the glass window trying to get a better glimpse of the rows of infants. She didn’t belong there. Where did she belong?
To my dismay, I found out, after the fact, that my little girl was simply rolled down the hallway and placed, delicately but sadly alone in an unused hospital room. I often wondered if they at least turned the light on for her. She couldn’t have noticed, but I would’ve appreciated it. I guess it is best that I don’t know.
Bella was in the room with us when the first wave of visitors arrived to offer condolences. I remember the faint knock on the hospital door that held a white rose that was taped to it. I walked over, opened it and a group of friends made their way in. After hugs, meaningful words and blank stares at the lifeless little girl in the clear bassinet were finished, they sat around as idle chit-chat slowly began.
At some point, maybe 20-minutes into the visit, the chit-chat had grown to flowing conversation and even to the point of lively stories mixed with laughter. I clearly remember the moment, mid-laugh, that I looked across the room as my eyes caught the plastic bassinet that housed my still daughter. I remember my laugh being abruptly cut off as my stomach dropped and I was forcefully unhinged from everything around me and reminded that my dead daughter was still in the room that we had disrespectfully transformed from a room of tears and silence to laughter and catching up.
I gulped hard and realized that even in the very moment of the hardest day of my life; I had forgotten her…for a while.
Today, it has been several weeks, perhaps months since I have visited her graveside, yet I love and miss her more than ever before as I type these words. Life continues to get in the way and shows no prejudice to the big moments that make up our story, no matter how devastating.
Every day I remember her, but every once in a while, in the midst of a family event surrounded by laughter that I have initiated, it hits me that no matter how briefly, I have forgotten the pain, the hurt, the loss, for just a little while. I assume that if we didn’t have those breaks from the excruciating pain, life would simply be unbearable.