I can't say a whole lot has improved in my emotional state and after all it has only been one month, I'm not sure what I'm expecting or hoping for because what I ultimately and desperately hope for can't happen, she's gone, she's not here anymore and what I really want is to have her sitting right here next me as I type. I have good days and bad days, good moments where I can talk about her and recount her last days without shedding a tear and then the very next moment I talk about her I fall to pieces. There is no rhyme or reason to it and I guess there isn't supposed to be. I really don't do well with unpredictable, uncontrollable situations and this is no different.
I kind of feel like I'm splitting into two beings...one that goes about her day, takes care of Avery and Lily, does what needs to be done at home, etc. and then there's this other being that just kind of floats above it all. It's almost like in the loss of Zoe I've lost myself. I joined a Yahoo! group for parents of multiples who have lost a child or children at any point in pregnancy or after...it's called eLIMBO...which is the perfect name because I do feel like I'm in limbo...just kind of hanging there in space. Time keeps passing, days keep going by and at the same time I'm trying to put on the brakes or at least just kind of hang out in space. I'm not ready for life to keep going, but I can't stop it. It keeps moving, days keep passing, Avery and Lily keep growing...and Zoe is still gone.
I think this post is a bit rambling, I'm having trouble articulating exactly where I am right now. It is totally new territory and unlike the NICU experience where you have milestones to work towards (off the vent, off oxygen, first feeding, first bottle, first holding, etc.), with the loss of a child, what do you have to look forward to? What are the milestones you're supposed to reach for? There are none. It just hurts. Lately it's been hurting worse, my longing for her has increased, my desire to hold her just a minute longer...I now regret leaving the hospital when we did after she died. We spent a few hours there with her, but I wish I had spent more hours with her, I wish I had held her longer. I remember tracing my finger all over her tiny body, tracing the curve of her ear resting on the little freckle in front of her right ear, looking at each finger, each toe, following the plumpness of her cheeks, the perfect heart shape of her lips, trying to ingrain in my mind not only the look of her features but the feel of them. I remember how I would hold her close to me, forehead to forehead and my nose fit perfectly in the curve of her forehead that travels down to her nose. It was like two puzzle pieces that just fit, were made for one another. When I held her for the last time she was no longer warm, and had started to become stiff. That's why we left when we did, we wanted to remember holding her when she was alive and warm. I even remember picking her up that last time and hearing the creaking in her bones...but once I had her laying against my chest, it was just like before. The weight of her little body against me. My baby. My little girl. My angel.
I've emailed with several wonderful people who have poured their hearts out to me about their own losses they've experienced and their will to go on and raise the rest of their multiples. Many people say that the hurt never goes away, it just kind of softens over time. They also say that the person they were before the loss is no longer, a new person emerges. How long does it take to figure out who that person is? I'm just not sure who I am anymore. I'm a mom to Avery and Lily and I pray to God that I am not faltering in mothering them while I mourn the death of Zoe. But I'm different, I'm not sure how exactly, just that I know I'm not the same. I have such a mix of emotion that happens throughout the day, each day, each minute sometimes I don't even realize it's happening. They'll do something that makes me smile, or laugh, but just behind that joy is this profound sadness, this grief that washes over me. It really is like living in this ocean of sadness, like the tides it comes over me and then recedes and then washes over again and recedes, then again and recedes. It seems endless, sometimes it's more violent and aggressive, and sometimes it just seems to barely lap over me...but it's always there.
I've had my first birthday without Zoe...which Richard did an absolutely superb job of making a very bittersweet day, enjoyable. We had close family here for a down home southern lunch (thanks to Richard) and Avery and Lily got to have their first bites of their Daddy's culinary expertise. He made me the most delicious strawberry coconut cake and as a treat this last weekend he took me to a place called Serenbe, south of Atlanta in Palmetto, GA. It was pure relaxation and calm. We just enjoyed each other, talked about Zoe, cried about her, missed her, loved her, took walks, took naps, and ate yummy food. For a day that had all the makings of being miserable, he did an amazing job of making me feel loved despite the huge hole in my heart.
Our first Easter without her is approaching...last Easter was a very special day for us. The girls were all still in the NICU, with Avery and Lily in the step down nursery. We got special permission to bring Avery and Lily over to visit Zoe. It was the first time we had all three girls in the same room and we took our first family photo. It was a beautiful, wonderful day. One of those days you want to remember forever...but you also expect that the next one will be even better...I haven't even bought Easter dresses for the girls. I've been shopping for them once since Zoe died and I had to deliberately stop myself from buying in threes. It didn't feel right to only buy two Easter baskets either.
I guess the next year will be full of these "firsts" for us...the moments that are especially painful are the firsts without her that I expected would be our first this or that with all three girls at home...like my birthday and Easter. I never got a professional family photo taken of the 5 of us, which really saddens me, we have only a handful of snapshots. I was waiting for the weather to improve, Zoe to get stronger with sitting by herself and Avery and Lily to maybe start walking. I spoke with a very good friend of mine who is a photographer, she said we ought to have some sort of symbol to represent Zoe in our family photos. I've chosen to always have a flower of some sort in those photos...we actually took a family photo on my birthday and Richard held a beautiful blossom from the pink Camellia bush outside the nursery. It is so weird to see only four of us. It's just not complete. The hole is so large.
Life does continue to go on....it has to. Lily has had her first haircut. Both she and Avery are on the verge of walking and may only need to see the GI doc once more in a couple of months. They're eating great, drinking well, and I've been making most of their food now which is very gratifying to see them like something I made for them. Their communication skills are wonderful, they understand everything we say to them even if they don't talk except in one syllable sounds. They are beautiful, growing little girls....amazing that that they are only just now one year old adjusted age.
So I have to thank everyone again for all the emails, the cards, the contributions....we are astonished and excited about the Zoe Rose Memorial Foundation. We've decided it will be an actual working non-profit so that we can have a real impact on little ones like Zoe for years to come. We'll get a website up before too long and we'll have our first meeting in another month or so. I also appreciate so much the folks that simply say "I have no words...I don't know what to say" believe it or not, that helps so much because there isn't anything perfect to say at this time. There are no magic words to make me feel better, but knowing you're thinking about us means you're thinking about Zoe and THAT keeps her spirit alive.
Following is a poem that was sent to Richard shortly after Zoe died, it pretty much says everything perfectly and I thought I'd share it here. I'll get some pictures up of Avery and Lily and maybe even a little video footage of the big haircut.
Don't Tell Me
Please don't tell me you know how I feel,
Please don't tell me you know how I feel,
Unless you have lost your child too,
Please don't tell me my broken heart will heal,
Because that is just not true,
Please don't tell me my daughter is in a better place,
Though it is true, I want her here with me,
Don't tell me someday I'll hear her voice, see her face,
Beyond today I cannot see,
Don’t tell me it is time to move on,
Because I cannot,
Don’t tell me to face the fact she is gone,
Because denial is something I can't stop,
Don't tell me to be thankful for the time I had,
Because I wanted more,
Don't tell me when I am my old self you will be glad,
I'll never be as I was before,
What you can tell me is you will be here for me,
That you will listen when I talk of my child,
You can share with me my precious memories,
You can even cry with me for a while,
And please don't hesitate to say her name,
Because it is something I long to hear everyday,
Friend please realize that I can never be the same,
But if you stand by me, you may like the new person I become someday.
Judi Walker(In Memory of Shane)Copyright 1998