I try so hard to remember the times that we had together at home, that were fun, that started to feel like we actually would have a “normal” life with triplets…but those last 24 hours were so traumatizing…have scarred my heart so badly…I can’t remember the good things. It only seems like snapshots, like I wasn’t actually there. My mom spent some time with me the other day telling me what she saw and what she remembers from being a constant observer in our home while chasing after Avery and Lily. This helped a lot…when she remembered a specific instance I could remember being there in that moment…and I could see Zoe’s smiling face and hear her squeaky voice. But you know what? It’s just not enough right now…I want her here with me, with Richard, with Avery and Lily…in our home in the flesh!
I’ve been feeling a little lonely too…it’s been 6 months and everyone has gone on with their lives. While others may have been touched deeply or affected in some way by Zoe’s life and death they are able to go on with their lives…another bereaved mother said it’s like the parents of the child are at the top of a mountain peak where an unimaginably fierce storm is swirly around them, so thick with cold, hard, rain and clouds, and thunder where they have no shelter, no place to rest, no place to lie down, they cannot see the bottom of the mountain. Then there are the people who may have been close to the child, and loved the child such as a relative or caregiver…these folks reside some ways down the mountain and may feel the effects of this storm, but they have shelter, and can also see the clear, sunny, warm, valley below…the folks in the valley are those that may be sorry that the child has died, but their lives aren’t changed one way or another by the death. That mountaintop is terrible…you can’t see an end to the wind and the rain, you can’t get enough of a break from the storm to even catch your breath, and you have no one nearby to help you through it…your husband, your other children…they are on their own mountaintops, fighting their own storms. Every once in a while the clouds will part a bit and you can make your way down to the side of the mountain for a hug, a listening ear…but sometimes without any warning the storm just sucks you right back up to the top, leaving your friends and family to wonder where you are and what to do.
I have received incredible support from any number of people…but it never makes the pain go away, it helps for the moment…but it doesn’t stop the storm. Richard, my incredible husband who just celebrated (I say celebrated hesitantly this year) his first birthday without Zoe…has been and continues to be a pillar of strength, fortitude, and love for me and for Avery and Lily. I don’t know how he musters the courage, where he gets this will to keep moving forward…somewhere deep down he gets it. But my heart aches for him…we are so often unable to comfort each other and he has fewer resources for support. It seems that many of the grief groups and multiples groups are for moms…they may include the dads, but more often than not it’s the moms that converse back and forth. He needs some comfort, he needs someone to carry his burden of grief, just for a moment, just to give his heart a break…I try, when I can which sounds pretty pathetic…and I’m trying more and more than I was a few months back, but I know it’s not enough. No matter what, it can never, ever be enough, because Zoe will always be gone, there will always be a huge hole in our hearts and in our lives that can only be filled by her.
I recently emailed with a mom who lost her child in a similar way that we lost Zoe, she now finds herself pregnant with another child, very unexpected, and she has conflicting emotions of pain and joy (much like raising surviving children). She mentioned to me in her last email that she and her husband wanted to make sure that this new baby never bears the burden of the loss of their first born…it made me stop and think for a while…have I burdened Avery and Lily with my grief? Do they associate only sadness and pain with Zoe? Am I doing enough with them to celebrate their sister? How do I do this? How do I celebrate and yet not idealize? Or in the midst of my own tremendous grief are they getting sucked into it to? I hope not…I pray not. What an eye-opening statement though for me to try my hardest to make certain they associate Zoe with life and love and willpower and strength…that they can draw on her strength when they need it and that they know from me that she was and is a real person and not an idealized version of a child that they can never measure up to. It is so easy to idealize a child who has died, especially when that child is Zoe who had an angel’s presence and awareness far beyond her year and 2 months of age. But I do not want Avery and Lily to ever, ever think poorly about Zoe or to feel that they aren’t just as incredible, just as miraculous, just as loving as Zoe is. They are all our miracle babies…to have grown outside the womb for THREE MONTHS before they were supposed to…that is incredible, it is indescribably, it is unimaginable. But they did…all three of them, they did it.
We don’t get as many cards, emails, or phone calls as we did when Zoe first passed, and that is to be expected…no one else is touched as deeply by her death as Richard and I are, we can’t expect everyone we know and love to keep doing this over and over for all eternity. And so many people (thank goodness) have not experienced a loss of this magnitude and don’t know what to do or what to say, we know this too and we do understand…but the silence hurts the most. People grieve in different ways, I grieve more openly (I think) and therefore I want to talk about her I NEED to talk about her. So I say to you again, please don’t be afraid of my tears, please don’t be afraid to mention her name…I long to hear her name each and every waking moment.
I do have a wonderful group of women (you know who you are) who have continued to email me or call if for nothing else than to say “I thought of you today”…I cannot tell you how that one line of text can bring a smile to my face. It means more than I can really describe in words and it is appreciated so much, even if I don’t respond or don’t say so in my response. Please, please keep doing this, I need it and Richard needs it. And if you actually knew Zoe, even if just for a minute, and you read this blog would you please take a moment to share a fond memory, even if was just a minute? We would so love for you to share your memories with us to help us go beyond the trauma of her last 24 hours, and truly remember Zoe as she was in her living days. You can post anonymously if you want or send me an email, we would love it if you could do this for us.
We have been trying to give Avery and Lily a “normal” toddler life so this summer has been jam packed with activities, day trips, play dates, etc. We’ve tried to schedule a play date with another set of triplets, but first my girls were sick, then two of hers weren’t feeling too hot…at any rate, we had planned to go to Babyland General…birthplace of Cabbage Patch dolls. We went ahead and took Avery and Lily and oh, my, goodness!!! What fun we had. If you have not been and you live even remotely close to Cleveland, Georgia…and you have little girls…YOU MUST GO!!!! The first section is set up like a hospital nursery; there are even “preemies” in isolettes! Avery and Lily spent an hour just walking around, pointing, feeding babies with play bottles, offering their pacis, and saying “babies, babies, babies, babies” it was a blast. And yes, of course we left with two Cabbage Patch babies for them and tiny one for Zoe, how could we not?
Since we were so far north in Georgia, we also took the opportunity to visit Tallulah and her mommy Bekah (an old high school friend of mine), it was great fun to be with them and to see the three girls play and interact together.
While we were fixing a snack one of the songs from Zoe’s service (Amazing Grace by Chris Tomlin) came on the radio…as you can imagine I could not hold myself together. It was okay, Bekah and my mom were great…but it was the first time that a song has snuck up on me like that. Many times I will long to hear the songs played at Zoe’s memorial service, but for it to catch me off guard was difficult. Then, on our way home I was stopped at a red light in this little town I drive through twice a week when I take the girls to swimming…I looked to my right and saw a restaurant named “Zoe’s Little Italian Pizzeria” which I have never noticed before…was she trying to tell me something? I had prayed the night before for a sign that she was with me…so many people say “her presence will never leave you, she is always with you” but you know sometimes I think that’s just a bunch of baloney! Maybe I am so blocked by my grief that I can’t release this innate tension to relax and truly feel her presence. So anyway, I prayed for a sign and I guess God really had to smack me upside the head to tell me “yes, Keira, Zoe IS in fact with you always” okay, I got that message, and I thank You. I could just picture her running through Babyland right alongside Avery and Lily, I have high hopes that were she still around she’d be standing by now and I could just picture her standing next to these dolls that were as big as she and just squealing with delight. I can just see those emerald green eyes lit up like Avery and Lily’s were in awe of just how many baby dolls there were! This made me smile; for once it didn’t make me cry.
Our trip to Babyland...here is Avery in the "preemie nursery"
It must have been a "touch time" because Lily got to pat the baby
Look at all these baby dolls! I think Lily wanted some of their lunch
Avery liked all the fluffy hair and bows
They are such good "mommies"
Then it was off to Tallulah's house...or Luah as the girls called her
Lily let me dress her up in beads and cute little tutu Bekah made