Thursday, February 14, 2008

Day Two, Valentine's Day

The second 24 hours, day two, were the worst. The Paradigm shifted not once, but twice, as we went to bed on the 13th with what we thought was a severely handicapped child, and woke up early on Valentine's Day to the news that our child was dying. Tomorrow would be reserved for other weighty conversations, but today, arguably the worst in the week, was a sea of tears, and disbelief, and dare I say, rays of relief that at the very least her nightmare might soon be over. I was discharged today, played with Bella in the comfort of my own home, and returned to the NICU that evening to spend the night on the most uncomfortable "bed" I've ever encountered.

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When I started writing this blog, a friend of a friend named B started reading. Her three-month old daughter K died, on Valentine's Day, almost a decade ago. It's not uncommon for me to wake up the morning after a post and find an email in my box from B. She's been a wealth of support, especially with the distance she now has from her daughter's death. I wrote her last week to tell her I would remember her and K today, and she wrote back two things I've been mulling over since. One, Valentine's actually wasn't the worst day for her either; it was the day, a week before (coincidentally, the day I sent the email), when they found out about the cancer. I guess for some of us the actual death is peaceful relief of the pain inflicted earlier; the moment of discovery that your child will die becomes the nadir from which everything, including breath stopping, flows forward. And two, she reminded me that by remembering her, I am in fact forwarding the gift bestowed on me by this awful experience: if there is anything we as mourning parents do, it is that we now have the capacity to remember others. It's a lousy silver lining, to be invested with this sad rite. And I thought of this image of all of us, as pavers in a road, each quietly taking their place, thankful that the previous pavers have already laid out the path and tamped the ground for our block. And we fall into place, on this road, awaiting the next set of pavers ahead of us. We support each other, hold each other in place, but perhaps most importantly, we are the ones invested in remembering each other's children. It's awful this path that simply keeps extending on into the horizon, but look backwards, and you'll see the path, overgrown in places, disappear into the distance behind you, too. B, thanks for breaking my fall, showing me the way, and reminding me that what I now do for others is in fact a grim positive change resulting from Maddy's death.

B, and K, I'm thinking of you both today.

13 comments:

Bon said...

as i am thinking of you, and Maddy.

you're right...it's a strange silver lining. but as time wears on, one i find more and more beauty in. we see differently, those of who know what remembering is.

love to you...and not the hearts and flowers kind.

Amy said...

Tash,
I too will be thinking or your friend and her little one as well as you and Maddy today.

Thank you for your writing and keeping Maddy's memory alive for all of us. You are one of the people that help the rest of us get through. I hope we do the same for you.

Julia said...

I told a newly bereaved mother yesterday that this is not the club anyone wants to belong to or to welcome anyone new into, and yet, here we are. Doing what we do. Remembering and paving. I like that-- paving.

Coggy said...

What a beautiful post, I have never thought of it in that way.
It too often saddens me how much remembering I have inside my head now. I can't believe I know so many more lost babies than live ones. It is important to remember though. It brings me great comfort to know that Jacob is thought of not only by myself, but by this collective. When his memory seems to have drifted far from people in my real life I know it is very much alive here.

I have no doubt that Maddy is also remembered often by so many here.

niobe said...

What an evocative image.

beth said...

Tash,
Thank you for honoring our sweet Katie in your post today. Your writing and emotions touch me deeply each time I read your blog. I'm so thankful to have met you on-line and I think of you and Maddy so often. I'll continue to be out here with the many others supporting you and always remembering. Sending you love and gratitude...

furtherrecords said...

I am thinking of you all again today.

Much love to you.

meg said...

Thinking of you Tash. And Maddy too.

I'm not very warm and squishy, but I send you love anyhow.

Searching said...

A Maddy was born today and brought to the nursery. I thought of you and your sweet Maddy, as I do most days. I remember many little ones whose footprints are on those blocks...

Antigone said...

Why is it so important to be remembered?

Your Maddy is real to me. I know of her and remember her. And so do many others.

I have cried for her. I cried when I first found your blog and read it from beginning to end.

I know Maddy was beautiful. I know Maddy would have been the smartest girl in her class. I know Maddy was loved and would have grown up in a nurturing, loving home. I can see it. I can see this beautiful, vivacious girl.

Tash, what's the answer? Why? Why? Why?

My son would have been brilliant and handsome and funny. And now he sits in a box on my nightstand.

I know there's not 'Why'. I don't think I'll ever be able to look at dice without sobbing again.

Aurelia said...

I hope this day wasn't too rough. Oh these posts make me cry, because you are right, this is the worst day, the shocking moment when you find out they will die, and the day they actually die, is almost a denouement.

Katie said...

Thinking of all of you.

luna said...

this is such a beautiful post. I'm so sorry you had to pave that way too, but grateful you had some support to break your fall. ~luna