Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Guest Post: Ava

The holidays are a joyous time, but for many it can also be painful. Having personally suffered the loss of a parent, wonderful memories return but also the bittersweet reminder that it's all we have left. Today, my brave and strong friend Sheila writes about her beautiful angel daughter, Ava.

For any sadness in your life, any time of the year, take refuge in sharing your feelings with one another. Be it your spouse, a close friend or even a stranger with a similar experience. Talking about it can be immensely healing and personally I have processed my grief differently by talking about it. If you have a friend whom you know what suffered a loss at any time, gently talk to her about it and remind her that you remember. That may be the most comforting thing you do for her.

Her name is Ava, simple and fleeting on the tongue.  In French, it means “bird,” a sentimental nod to our time in the Navy.  Swallows are symbolic for guiding each sailor’s voyage and bringing them home.  Before she was born, my husband & I constantly debated on this name.  We just couldn’t agree.  As first-time parents, we couldn’t agree on many things.  Once we laid eyes on her though, the debate died along with our child.  It was clear who she was.  Ava.  I wish I heard her beautiful name spoken more.

She was our first child and so badly, badly longed for.  After trying to conceive for a handful of years, she entered our lives that May just as quickly and unexpectedly as she left.  Even in those sweet, early days of my pregnancy, I felt I knew the little life I was carrying inside of me.  I was carrying a girl—a darling, feminine girl with dark wavy hair.  She’d love ribbons and bows, wear pink tutus, and dance ballet.  She was constantly in my thoughts, and on the way to work, I’d listen to lullabies or sing to her.  In the evenings, I’d read her, Guess How Much I Love You.  My evenings and weekends were filled with prenatal yoga and building our registry.  My bookcase was lined with the latest in parent books.  I was five months pregnant, hopeful for our future together and very much looking forward to being her mother. 

I was a week away from a routine ultrasound appointment and so excited to see her face for the first
time, anxious to point out whose features were whose.  And then, it happened.  For reasons unknown, I awoke one morning to blood-soaked sheets.  My amniotic sac had ruptured.  I rushed to the hospital
and was met in the ER; there was nothing they could do to save her life.  I was in early labor, and
because she was a few weeks too premature to live outside of my womb, she wouldn’t survive.  I was
giving birth to say goodbye. 

Laying on the hospital bed and between contractions, I would whisper to her, “I love you.  I am sorry.  I am so, so sorry.  Be strong.”  What lead to this?  I dissected my pregnancy over and over.  I prayed for the first time in years, asking God for whatever pain she was feeling, to let it pass quickly.  She was born on August 23, 2010 at 8:13 p.m., tiny, wiggly, and pink.  I recognized my chin, my eyebrows, and her daddy’s feet.  She lived for a very short time, struggling to breathe through her underdeveloped lungs before passing in our arms.  After having such dry weather the entire summer, it stormed that evening.  It felt like the sky was despairing with me. 

I don’t remember much about the months that followed.  I do know that I felt broken.  Lost. Responsible for her death.  Suicidal at times.  I was a mother with no baby to show for it.  My work gave me 6 weeks of paid maternity leave, and I slept much of the day while laying awake at night.  Dressing was too much work.  Eating was too much work.  Living was too much work.  Concerned, friends and family would call or stop by for small talk.  They didn’t want to upset me, so awkwardly they would avoid her name or any conversation of Ava.  I just wanted to die alongside my daughter.   

Then came the months of November and December, which brought another dimension of grief.  There were so many unintended reminders of how she was missing from our lives that holiday season, the time of year that I once most loved.  We’d never see the excitement for Christmas through her little eyes, and knowing this made my heart and arms ache even more.  We received cards in the mail and invites to parties, and although grateful to be thought of, I couldn’t gather the strength to feign joy or even respond.  Ava’s name wasn’t on them.  I knew everyone remembered her, but for how long?  My worst fear was that her name would be forgotten.  I’d wake in the morning, cry on the drive to work, glue myself together, cry on the drive home, and then go to bed.  I stayed in our bedroom most of Christmas Day. 

I managed that winter, and the four that came afterwards, the best I could.  Ava now has two healthy
siblings who know her name and sometimes ask about her.  A handful of family members also speak of her, acknowledging her birthday and on holidays, or sometimes just because.   My heart bursts with gratitude each time.  One of my worst fears continues to be that she’ll be forgotten, the only record of her short life being the marker that sits atop her grave—which is why I write this. 

Sweet Ava, your story is now memorialized in written word, just as it is engraved in your daddy’s heart and in mine.  You were here.  You are remembered.  You are missed.  Love you to the moon and back, baby girl.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my... Im so sorry for your loss!! Thank you for sharing your story and your wonderful angel daughter Ava with us <3



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...