by Amy Cirksena
My daughter was dead.
I watched the nurse carry her away. She walked so slowly. So gently. I no longer remember that nurse’s face, but I can still see her walking with such care as she held my baby.
For two days I sat numbly in the hospital. The TV flashing. Phone calls, forms, cremation arrangements. My mind didn’t think, my body simply went through the motions.
And then, I had to leave the cocoon of the hospital room. I had to sit in that wheelchair clutching my stack of papers and small bag of keepsakes as we navigated hallways dotted with smiling mothers and the sound of newborn cries.
I hung my head low in defeat. I squeezed my eyes so tightly in pain and prayer that the tears were unable to escape; I wanted to be invisible.
Outside, I felt the cool air and sun on my skin. We drove home in silence. I recognized nothing.
Time slowed to a stop and the horrific, unplanned reality came crashing down.
I could feel her phantom kicks in my hollow abdomen.
My c-section incision throbbed and cramped while I cursed my engorged, aching breasts.
I could physically feel the emptiness settling in my broken heart.
I imagined her lifeless body being kept in a freezer.
I imagined my perfect little girl being driven to the crematorium. My baby was alone.
No one to hold her. No one to comfort her. I needed to be with her. The thoughts buzzed angrily in my head. I felt sick.
I didn’t know what to do. I spent my days trying to find ways to pass the time, searching desperately for some form of comfort.
I wandered around from room to room in a daze; back and forth, back and forth, back and forth like a caged animal pacing aimlessly.
I had to will my legs to move, force myself to walk, yet I was unable to sit still.
Inevitably, I would wind up standing in front of her crib staring at her belongings. I anxiously flipped through her ultrasound pictures, trying to remember every detail.
I replayed the memories of my time with her, burning the minutes into my brain, so I wouldn’t forget a second.
It wasn’t enough.
I would curl up on the floor or on my bed, clutching her hospital blanket, and sob uncontrollably. Pure, raw exhaustion eventually allowed me to drift off to sleep.
There were so many tears. I never realized a soul could spill so many tears.
I would wake up in the middle of the night, my body longing to be with her, the bedroom swallowed in calm darkness, and I would cry quietly into my pillow.
Mornings always brought the hazy realization that this life of mine wasn’t a dream; her empty crib was my truth. I cried.
I’d cry when my husband left for work. I would cry making toast.
I cried in the shower staring at my mutilated and deformed body.
I cried in the car.
I cried at the store, in the parking lot, in the shampoo aisle.
I cried so long and hard, at times, believing my tears were the only connection I had to her. That they formed an invisible string holding her in Heaven and if I stopped she would somehow be forgotten.
The fear of forgetting my child… and more tears.
I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what I wanted.
I didn’t want noise. I didn’t want silence.
I didn’t want to be alone. I didn’t want to be with anyone.
I wanted to be held, but I didn’t want to be touched.
I knew I wanted everything to stop hurting. I didn’t want to feel the excruciating aching anymore.
There was nothing I could do. Nothing was going to fix this.
I felt crazed. Anger boiled and bubbled.
I would scream and shout and cry only to be left crumpled and breathless on the floor in front of the growing shrine of sympathy cards and flowers.
I had lost control. I felt as if I had lost my mind. I didn’t know what else to do, so I surrendered to my grief.
Time has a way of muffling the pain, eventually dulling the memories we have so delicately etched in our minds.
Years have passed and now I don’t fall so deep. Time doesn’t stop for as long.
And I don’t lose myself completely.
I’ve learned that it’s okay to let grief knock me down and tear open my scars. I let myself feel the anger and the yearning, the bitterness and despair.
I let myself cry when the love and the heartache become too much to hold. I lay in bed and wish for her to be here when I open my eyes, even though I know she never will be.
I let myself feel whatever it is I need to feel and, in that, there is comfort to be found. I take a deep breath, and I surrender.