Tuesday, May 13, 2008


In the morning, my mother came into the hospital room to see me.

I was sitting in the bed. I was exhausted. I had been awake almost all night, hit with the most unfathomable, unbelievable news I had ever heard.

My mother was surprised.

I expected you to look sick, she later explained. Instead, you looked so beautiful, and so healthy. You had a suntanned face, and your hair was shining, laid pretty on the pillow behind your head. You were glowing, still, from pregnancy.

How could you look so well, when everything was so very wrong?


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I slept a little on the epidural I let them give me. It was merciful. It was an escape from the pain, and not the pain that people usually use an epidural for. I could retreat into darkness, make the world I was in go away for a little time. I could make the room go out of focus and doze, unaware for a brief moment of my surroundings.


Relief.


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I held to the squatting bar like an animal, bearing down. Greg put cool cloths on my back and ice in my mouth. The time seemed to be going by quickly, although in retrospect, it did not. I don't think I was really in any hurry for my baby to be born.


When she was born, she would die.


You may think she was already dead, but this is how it seemed to me. When she was born, she would die. It would be real.


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I was a real mother, wasn't I? Rocking on the soles of my feet with my knees in my armpits and my head hanging, hair in my eyes, filling my body with air and then sending all available energy down, down, down, down. It was exhausting, life work. Life work.


But I wasn't sure.


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2:14 PM

The silence fills the room.

It echoes out of every corner.

Its piercing noise is evident in the faces of the four people in the room. Now five.


But something else bounces around, too, and it is the spirit of a girl.

It fills me right up, from my toes to my eyelids and out the tips of my hair. My body, once rigid and afraid, goes soft. It curls around the daughter I have made. Love surrounds me.


It is not what I thought it would be like, this.


It does not feel the way I imagined, the let down, the disappointment, they have vanished for a time. There is grief, yes, and sadness, of course, but the path has been cleared for joy. For amazement. For awe. For beauty.


She is here.


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I made this? This beauty of a child? This perfection of a human?

What would I give for this child?

Could I trade my life for hers?

I would.


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Six and then some hours. Starting now.


************************************


I wish I could go back.

Knowing I cannot make her live, would it be too much to ask?
Just to hold her once more, to kiss her again?

6 comments:

Birdie said...

Carol,

My heart has sunken....I am so sorry that Charlotte is not with you in her sweet 5 year old body. You are so deeply in my thoughts on this day and every day. We will light candles for Charlotte tonight and wish her a happy birthday upon the wind.

All my love,
Erin

Hennifer said...

Thinking of your and your family today. I am so very sorry.

jennifer

Team Harris said...

Happy Birthday Charlotte Amelia... your spirit lives on and you ARE making a difference in the lives of others.... you really are!

Matt said...

All of my thoughts and love to you and Greg today. I know that Birdie will help Charlotte blow out all of her candles today upon the wind...

love matt

stephanie said...

Thinking of all of you today....

Much love,
steph

Mere Mortal said...

what a bittersweet and loving tribute to your spirit-baby girl.
yes, you were a mama then, too. pushing life into this realm only it was a different kind of life. and her spirit was much too big for this earthly realm and now travels everywhere you go. magical, she is.
charlotte remembers all of this; your joy, your tears, your courage, your instintual and instant need to love her and curl around her.

peace to you, mama.
love,