What I would Tell My Grieving Self

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Tomorrow we will pay respects to my tiny little angel niece who died shortly after birth last week. My heart has been heavy as I have thought about her. She was one of three triplets born by emergency c-section at 32 weeks. Her sisters are doing well in the NICU getting stronger, eating more. But she didn’t get to stay on this earth, not physically anyway.

Yet she was so beautiful, so perfect.

No one will ever be able to explain to me why things like this happen. Why parents have to bury their babies. No explanation would suffice.

I think about Luca often, but this week I have had flashback after flashback to when we found out he died, I gave birth to him, we planned his funeral and then buried him.

Those were some of the most trying times of my life.

And yet here I am better now – not perfect, not completely healed – just better.

I’ve been thinking about all the raw emotion that came when we lost our third child. There were moments I didn’t know if I was going to make it; moments I didn’t want to. But hindsight is 20/20 and when it comes to grief I think it may even be 20/10.

If I could go back six years ago there is one thing I would tell myself.

Before I said, “I’m so sorry,” or “This whole thing just stinks,” I would wrap my arms around my grieving, sobbing self and whisper, “You will be all right.”

Because I really am all right. 

“There will be times you will want to scream and punch the wall,” I’d continue. “Times when you want so sit and cry your eyes out – even after six years. But there will also be times when you will smile and laugh again. Times when you will think you are the luckiest person on Earth. And it will all be okay.

No it’s not all right that you had to bury a baby. No it’s not all right that he can’t be with you and your family.

But YOU are all right.

You experienced one of life’s greatest injustices – losing a child – and you lived.”

Shortly after Luca died I remember being so angry that someone had said time heals all wounds. I thought that whoever came up with that stupid saying had never lost a child.

While my wound isn’t completely healed – it is scabbed over and scarred – it is no longer raw and oozing.

I really am all right.

Last month we went to the nursery to pick out another tree for the city to plant in Luca’s memory. While we were there one of my boys noticed that there was an open wound with a tiny nub on one of the Eastern Redbud trees we were looking at buying.

Our friend from the nursery explained to us that when trees are pruned the correct way the arborist will carefully cut the limb just at its base where it starts to bend, leaving a tiny piece of the limb on its trunk.

If he or she cuts too much, leaves it too short, then the wound won’t seal completely. The tree will be left with a large scar.

I feel like Luca’s limb was cut too short. His branch in our family tree was ripped out before it really began to grow. Before it could even leave a nub. And so its wound won’t seal completely.

Our family tree is left with a big scar.

But despite that scar we still live on. We grow and develop. We shoot out new branches. We reach our limbs to the sky and gain warmth and strength from its light.

And we are all right.

And although I never want to re-experience the raw pain I felt on the bitter-sweet day I delivered Luca, I would go back to it all if it meant that I got the chance to show myself that I made it. That I survived that hell. That I am continuing to survive it.

That I love our little angel baby just as much as I did the day I told him hello and goodbye.

But I am all right without him.

 

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