Tag Archives: death

Not all Survivors Have Scars

There’s this graphic making its way around social media. It says something along the lines of: There’s a word for kids who lose a parent and a word for people who lose their spouse, but there’s no word for a parent who loses a child.

While I suppose it’s true, it’s also not. Because I think there is a word.

Survivor

Because that’s what I am — that’s what we are.

We survived when the doctor told us “I have bad news.”

We survived when our baby was taken from my arms and rushed to the NICU, Mr. B quickly trailing behind.

We survived as the doctors told us over and over “we found something else.”

We survived as we distraughtly waited in the surgical waiting room — three different times — for word that Penelope would live to fight another fight.

We survived sleepless nights and middle-of-the-night dashes to Penelope’s room when one more thing went wrong.

We survived the looks of sadness on the doctors’ and nurses’ faces as they said there was really nothing more they could do.

We survived the night we held our baby in our arms as she took her last breaths.

We survived the funeral home and the looks of pity and the never-ending “what can we dos.”

We survived spreading Penelope’s ashes.

We survived when the phone stopped ringing and the letters stopped coming and everything became quiet.

We survive walking in the apartment at night and hearing the neighbor’s baby crying as we look at each other, knowing that could have been us.

We survive the still-awkward conversations and uncomfortable silences because people still don’t know what to say to us.

And every day we survive knowing that so many people have what we desperately wanted. What we desperately want.

Some days, surviving is easy. But some days, surviving is hard — and we do it only because we have each other to lean on. But we survive.

Because there is no other option.

During Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week (Feb. 7-14), CHD survivors are encouraged to “rock their scars” and put a face to this leading cause of infant mortality.

But, as I’ve learned, not all survivors have scars. Mr. B and I don’t have physical scars. But our emotional scars? We will carry them with us forever.

And the landscape of our hearts, too, is forever changed.

We fought the good fight right alongside our Penelope. And while she won many, many battles, she lost the war. And we lost it too, the second we kissed her forehead and told her goodbye.

So, this short piece? It’s me rocking my scar — as a CHD survivor.

My family

My family, the day before Penelope Joy died.

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‘The Path Unwinding’

I had an entirely different post planned for today. All about getting out of a fitness funk. Because I needed to read it as much as I needed to write it.

But then something happened. T2.5’s mom died. Two days before his wedding. And you know what he said? Proof that he is a wiser person than I, as evidenced by his Facebook post last night about the possibility of his mom not making it to his wedding:

“… i will be sad BUT also happy that she completed everything in her life she wanted because i know it in my heart and because of my faith god will walk her to her seat at my wedding …”

He’s more religious than I am, but even I can see that there is a real beauty in what he wrote. That doesn’t mean there’s a lack of sadness. Because there is — he is. But he also appreciates the connectivity of the universe and the idea of life’s journey.

We’ve talked at length about this topic. Because of health situations in my family, as well as in his. Because death makes me so sad. Because the idea of losing someone very close to me scares me like nothing else (not even the Dogman). But he constantly reminds me that death is a part of life. What’s more, in order for there to be new life, there has to be death. You can take this literally or you can take it figuratively. Regardless, for something new to grow, something old must pass. And that’s why it’s so very important to put as much life into every second as possible.

T2.5’s thoughts on life and death came to mind tonight when, 12 hours after I found out about his mother’s death, I received a text message from my very dear friend. “She’s here!” Their daughter, whom they’d been hoping and praying and trying for for years was born this evening. An adorable baby who is just waiting for my arms to hug her.

I found myself in tears. Firstly because I always, always, always cry when I see, hold or hear about a newborn. Secondly because new life is such an amazingly beautiful thing — filled with hope and joy and wonder. Thirdly because I couldn’t help but think about T2.5 and his family and all that they’re going through right now, preparing for the next chapter in his life as he says good-bye to his mom. Fourthly because I realized something tonight.

There is truth to what T2.5 says: Death is as much a part of our journey as life. And while it’s sad — and it is oh-so very sad — it’s also a blessing to know that there is more than simply life (as we define it) followed by death. There is a connectivity in this universe that binds us all together (whether we admit it or deny it). I don’t know what — or who — that connection is. (Nor do I need to define it.) But I do know that it’s there. And that, my friends, is comfort enough.

“It’s the circle of life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love”
~”The Circle of Life” (from “The Lion King”), Elton John

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