The hours and days and months have gone by faster than I could have imagined. It seems as if I blinked and, suddenly, that tiny baby I held in the hospital isn’t so little anymore.
At least, that’s how it is supposed to be.
Instead, here I am, standing and facing the reality that two years have gone by without her. The memories slightly frayed and tattered around the edges from being replayed over and over again, yet still just as vibrant.
To my dismay, time marched on; a sense of normalcy emerged out of the chaos. But I still hold the wishes and wonder of a life unknown.
Often, I feel that people forget my daughter has a birthday, instead, they see it as an anniversary of her death. They emphasize that she is gone, but neglect and ignore that, like any other child, I brought her into this world.
It’s hard to admit and even harder to explain, but perhaps it is easier for me to separate her life and death and birth, because on that morning I woke up and sensed something was devastatingly wrong. The most sickening and soul-shattering form of intuition. I held my breath and kept my silence on the way to the doctor’s, praying it was untrue, but I knew she was gone. I knew. I knew that my baby girl, who was so wanted, was taken from me.
For me, that day is not when she died, but it is the day she was born.
It still hurts; missing her still hurts. I wish I could say it didn’t, but two years is merely a flicker in time’s design. The raw, crippling grief that was once there has gently eased only to be replaced by an underlying ache…weakness…guilt. It lies in my heart. The longing. A hollow agony. It stays there, sitting silently in the shadows of my daily routine. Sometimes it makes itself known, but most days it just simply plays in the background. I have learned to move and think around it, but I know it’s always there. I can physically feel it – the emptiness.
It has taken me a long time to learn to embrace my own grief, my own truth. I’ve found it is possible to hold heartbreak and hope in the same moment. It’s possible for love and loss, and life and death to exist simultaneously. But it is not easy holding them together; it takes work and practice to carry the weight they have, and often I can carry nothing else.
I suppose, people now assume because I speak less of loss that I’m free of my grief, free from heartache. No. I selfishly keep her tucked in my heart, wanting to keep her close for fear that sharing her will somehow break her. I have succumbed to the exhaustion that grief gave me and I have bowed down to the needs of my family and the disarray of everyday life. I feel guilty most days that life’s busyness has taken me away from her.
There are moments when I find myself looking longingly at my son, searching for her face, trying to see her in him. I try to imagine my daughter with those bright open eyes and the same sweet smile. And I wonder if there is a piece of her somewhere in him, if his larger than life joy and boisterous innocence and curiosity are somehow trying to compensate for what I am missing with her.
Other times, I catch myself staring off, shutting out the world around me, as my mind drifts to where my heart always lives. It goes to that day when I met my baby girl; I sit content holding her, simply loving her. I will always wish for a million more moments like that one, but even then, it would never be enough.
It is with all the love we carry that we celebrate our daughter’s second birthday. We celebrate the beautifully fleeting life she lived, the love she gave us, and the memories we share. We will celebrate how she made us parents and a family, as only a first child can. We will remember and we will love her, our greatest gift and our greatest sorrow, our little Savannah Grace.
Amy is a mother of two and lives in Greenbelt, MD with her husband. Their first child, Savannah Grace, was stillborn on March 29, 2016, at 39 weeks gestation. Amy continues to search for ways to honor her beautiful daughter’s memory while exploring a journey of renewed hope with her one year old son, Harrison.