Some old friends from the church I had abandoned came to the hospital to comfort me. I welcomed the company, though part of me wanted to crawl under the bed and hide my shame.
Lying alone later, I sheepishly said a silent prayer, “I wish I had a bible.” A couple minutes later, a nurse popped in and asked, “Would you like to have bible?” When I look back on that time in my life, that part stands out, because I couldn’t have felt farther from God; I couldn’t really have been more disobedient, but there he was, watching, listening, full of compassion, calling me back into his arms, taking care of me.
The funeral was awful, of course. Worse because no one could understand my pain. Many times people actually asked me, (even a pediatrician!) how the death of my Sara could affect me so deeply when I didn’t even get a chance to know her. If you’re a mom, I don’t have to explain that I DID know her. If not, then maybe you’ll never understand that the fact I didn’t get to know her long only compounded the pain.
My friend wrote with condolences. Her sister’s baby had died of crib death when my first-born was only two months old. She said she remembered how profoundly that baby’s death had impacted me, that I had started carrying Nathan with me everywhere I went, scared to let him out of my sight. She said she understood how the healing process confused me, that I didn’t really WANT to let go of the pain of losing Sara, because it represented all the love I had for her but couldn’t show her. She suggested I start keeping a “Dear Sara” journal to express all the things I longed to say but couldn’t tell her. I wrote her a very simple poem:
You filled my thoughts as I planned for you
I dreamed of our future together, my love,
How long I waited
You lived inside me for a time
And we were as one
I wanted you, needed you, love you so much
And now you’re gone.
The nurses had taken picture of her, which, at the time, I thought was morbid. Now I’m so glad I have them. I put the photos in an album along with the cards from funeral flowers sent in love, my poem, and other memorabilia, and I still cry when I take it out to look at it today. (So I don’t do that much).
At my six-week check up, my doctor said something very wise, “You will look back someday and question the decisions you’re making right now. Don’t do that. You’ll be a different person then. The person you are right now is making the right decisions for right now.” He was right, I did question the things I did and the way I did them, and was filled with regret. But his words strengthened me.
Nathan and Natali couldn’t really understand what had happened, of course. One day Natali said she was worried that Sara might be cold and wished we could take her a blanket. I told her Sara was with God and had no worries or needs. But that’s hard for adults to comprehend, let alone a child.
I thought crazy things in the weeks to come. I kept anticipating her birth, for one thing. I told myself that we needed to hurry up and make her over again, and that this time we would know she was going to be a girl. I thought I felt her kicking inside me. It scared me that I might really be going crazy, but when I read about the process of grief, everything that was happening was actually quite normal, and subsided eventually.
While I isolated myself and cried a lot, Rico drowned his grief in alcohol and drugs and sort of “ran away” from it all by partying. I didn’t understand how he could be so callous. I thought he didn’t feel our loss at all. But, again, the book on grief (Good Grief by Granger Westberg) explained that people grieve in much different ways, and what he was doing was normal, too.
One of the women who had been part of my church community wrote me a letter, saying that God had taken my baby as a punishment for my sins. She had been a close friend and taken care of my children many times, until she confessed to the elders that she had been sexually abusing the children in our congregation. It was years later that I found out some of my children were included in that confession.