It's funny how God works.
I had just recently posted how great my Mother's Day was. I told you that while I missed Melissa, I wasn't depressed. I felt like it was a huge breakthrough for me.
Tucked away in my closet, I have a special keepsake box that contains all of Melissa's belongings. It has her hospital blanket and hat, the dress and hat she wore when the staff took her pictures after she died, her brush and comb, her hospital bracelet and her handprints and footprints. It also contains the pictures the staff took of her. They are the only pictures I have of her. My complications began at 5:30 a.m. the morning of June 1st. I was immediately rushed to the OR for a c-section. After she was born at 6:18 a.m., Melissa was immediately rushed to the Neonatal ICU. She died just two and a half hours later. In all of the suddenness and intense pain, it never occurred to us to grab a camera. It never crossed our minds.
This past Mother's Day, I didn't look at her pictures. The day was just going so good that I didn't want to have that gut-wrenching cry. I hope you understand. It doesn't mean I didn't want to see that precious face, but everything that day had been so perfect and quite honestly, I just didn't want to cry.
This afternoon while my kids slept, I was reading something online about a woman who had lost a child. All of a sudden, God told me, "Go look at her."
No. Not now. I'm having a really good day. I just can't go there.
Go look at her, I heard again.
I debated. I knew the gut-wrenching cry that lied ahead. Was I prepared for that?
Go look at her.
So I got up and went to my closet. I got out her box. First I pulled out her pictures.
I began to cry. Then I began to sob. Then I began that guttural cry that only a mother who has lost a child can understand.
I cried that she was gone. I cried for how much I missed her. I cried that I couldn't just run down the hall and hold her.
I cried that I won't see her start kindergarten. I cried that I will never walk into the playroom and see her giggling and playing with Ann Catherine and Lily. I cried that I will never see her blow out the candles on her birthday cake. I cried that I won't see her grow up. I cried that I won't see her get married.
Then, I saw her things. I picked up that little hat and gown. In the pictures, they look so big on her. In my hands, they are absolutely tiny. I held onto them and then looked at the pictures. She was wearing this. I held it to my nose and inhaled to take in the scent of what had been on her tiny little body.
I held the blanket. Then I buried my head in it and cried some more. I took that tiny little hat they put on her when she was first born and I just tucked my hands inside it.
I smelled it and it still smelled like the NICU. Four years later, and I haven't washed those items. And I never will.
Then I started talking to her. I told her how sorry I was that I couldn't do more. I told her that her Daddy and I loved her more than anything in this world. I told her that I will miss her with all of my heart until I see her again. I told her that I was so sorry that she couldn't be here with us.
Then I held that little hat to my face and I prayed out loud. I told God that I just wished I could have ten minutes with her again so I could tell her all of those things in person. Then I told him that I don't know how Heaven works, but I asked him if he would please, please make sure that Melissa knows that she has a Mommy down here who loves her with all of her heart and who did everything she could to give her a chance to live.
I cried some more, then fearing that Ann Catherine might wake up and see me on the floor bawling, I began to put her things away. I saw the Bama bear that my niece and nephew, Ally and Will, brought to her at the hospital when she was born. Ann Catherine has the same one. And I saw the gown I was wearing the morning my daughters were born. I have kept all of these things as a reminder of this little girl who changed my life for the better.
Melissa's death is a constant reminder to me to be a better mother. It's a reminder that when Ann Catherine has a meltdown because "my dress doesn't twirl" or Lily gets upset because she wanted milk instead of orange juice, it's no big deal. They are here. And I am so grateful to have them.
As painful as it was, I'm glad I had this cry. I think it's part of my never ending journey to heal. Soon after your child dies, you cry every minute of every day. But as time goes on, you don't cry as much. That means when you do cry, it is physically and emotionally exhausting.
About 15 minutes after this happened, AC woke up and came running into my room. She crawled on my bed, put her arms around me, snuggled up to me and said, "I sure do love you, Mommy."
Thank you God.
Does she have any idea how badly I needed that?
For as long as I live, I will have a hole in my heart and I will never be completely healed until I see Melissa again. Some days I forget how big that hole is.
Today I was reminded.