One of the last things I remember from my Labor & Delivery Class was saying how much I could not wait to take my almost-born daughter to get manis and pedis. I could almost picture us being pampered together and making memories that would last a lifetime.
When my daughter was born still, that dream died with her. There was a list of things we would never get to do, and the common thread to all the items was making any memory whatsoever.
In time, with grief counseling and a very helpful support group, I worked out ways to deal with my sadness. While losing a child is not something one can ever “get over,” I learned how to cope with her absence in such a way that I was no longer living it every single day.
Six years later, I can still say that I think about my firstborn daughter every day, but I am not sad every day. I think that is quite a feat.
Two years after our first daughter died, we welcomed home our second daughter: full of love and light and a true gift to our entire family.
For the longest time, I was afraid to have dreams for my living child. I was afraid to hope. I was afraid to think too much past the here and now.
The good thing about parenting is that you are always busy, being pulled in a thousand different directions all at the same time. The bad thing about parenting is the same exact thing. With being so busy, I did not have time to make lists of what we should/could/would do in the future. I just had time to live life and enjoy the journey.
I took my daughter to get a mani/pedi earier this month before we left for our annual beach vacation. I was scared and nervous that she might be replacing my first daughter’s memory or that she would not enjoy it the same way I do.
All that worrying was for nothing. My daughter adored the pampering! And the women in the salon loved that she was there. They painted her nails and toes with such grace and joy, and they even added little flowers to some of her nails. She grinned from ear to ear.
I was happy, too. I sat in the massage chair and thought about how lucky I was to have a second chance to experience happiness. I thought about my first daughter and how, I hoped, if she was anything like me, she would not have wanted us to be sad forever. She would have been the kind of person who wanted her baby sister to enjoy life.
I think about both of my girls every single day. Both I love totally and completely, and both I strive to honor with all that I do and all that I am.
I am a firm believer that you have to live through your grief. There are no shortcuts. You need to feel the loss and the pain and the agony and the injustice of it all. For on the other side of that grief, there is still so much to experience. There are memories to be made. You just have to allow yourself to make them.