When Eva was sick we had an outpouring of support. When she died, that support continued, for about two months. And, just when I felt like I needed it most, people moved on with their lives...but some stayed and I was thankful, and years later, I realize that some is all I needed.
Some left in a whirlwind of pain.
One friend, Holly, was struggling with depression when Eva died. She came and sat on my couch with me for days and weeks. I don't even remember how much time she spent on my couch. And it was what I needed. Someone to just show up for me, and BE there. I told her once that I liked having her there because she wasn't too happy. Her depression and my complete lack of joy made us a not completely joyless match. The time after Eva's death cemented our friendship in the same way it shattered so many others.
On another note. Yesterday was Eva's fourth birthday.
I redid her table.
The banner with her name on it on the bottom was made by Holly.
And here is Eva at six weeks old wearing that same corduroy dress.
And, oh, how I wish I could turn back time...even for just an hour...
I got my hair cut yesterday. Because, well, what do you on your dead daughter's birthday anyway? Although I must say I did think about how much I would have liked to take her to the salon with me.
We had artichoke hearts with our supper last night for our heart girl. We also had sweet potatoes because she was so sweet. And angel food cake. The only day of the year when we eat angel food cake. My wee four year old girl, eating cake with the angels...how I miss you.
Altogether the day wasn't too terrible.
Felix slept through most of it.
Samuel wrote about it in his journal.
In addition to birthday candles we also lit a candle for October 15th stillbirth and infant loss day. The irony never ceases to amaze me that her birthday is on that day.
Good night dear ones. May the day be brighter tomorrow. One day closer to heaven.
When Eva died the only thing I wanted to do was get together with parents who had lost a child too. There was no compassionate friends group in my town. There was nothing. But what there was, was a lot of mamas who had children who died in our small town. An inordinate amount of babies have died in our small town. So many. I mentioned wanting to have tea with baby loss mamas to a friend. She organized a grief tea and invited a few mamas. It was good. A spinoff came from that in that two other mamas and I met monthly for a few months for grief tea. Unofficial. But healing. I also saw a grief counsellor weekly and then monthly for a few months. I still see him occasionally but the need isn't as great now. The pit, the pain, the darkness...they are familiar now and I can handle them differently.
Other than that my resources have been mostly online. Glow in the woods. This blog. Facebook groups. But there is something real in real talking with a real person in real time about real pain. And that's what I would like to be able to do again. There is an organization that has started since Eva's death but you can't bring a baby to the group out of sensitivity to those mamas in the throes of early grief. Which I totally understand. But has also limited my ability to attend. Nathan was too young to leave with Mike and now Felix is too young to leave. But I'm looking forward to attending when Felix is a bit older.
I don't know what to put as a photo for this one, so, true to my love of words, this entry will be only words.
Sacred place. Officially, Eva's trees are a sacred place. Somewhere I go to feel close to her. Im looking forward to making that space beautiful over he years. Next year we can bury her ashes and have a gravestone which I think will be another sacred place.
But the truth is that the place I feel closest to her and most connected to my princess is at the hospital where she was treated and died, especially the cardiology department, and at Ronald McDonald House. The hospital feels the most sacred. I cannot go there without quietly crying in a corner somewhere and then pulling myself together to get what needs doing done.
I'm tired of saying that I just miss my girl so much but how I do. How I miss that itty bitty bit of sweetness.
On another note today Felix got a holder monitor done. It is a monitor that checks your heart rhythm for 24 hours. Eva only went into the bad VT rhythm when she was sleeping at first so when we took her to well baby checks there was nothing indicating a problem. Here he is looking completely happy and normal.
But hiding beneath his sleeper is this
Eva looked so perfect on the outside. But hiding away inside her chest was a heart that was breaking...and we couldn't tell. She looked so perfect on the outside.
I'm a reader. It's in me. So when Eva died that's what I did. I read and read and read. I read blogs and I read books. Too many to count. I tried to make sense of her death through words. My own and others. I still haven't managed to do this. But now I know I never will. Her death will remain a senseless tragedy until the day I am finally home in heaven. At which point the questions will not matter anymore, I believe. Here are two of my favourite books. Gifted to me shortly after her death. Simple. Perfect in their own way. I like that they are illustrated and simple. Although I have also really enjoyed the deep ones. Holding onto Hope by Nancy Guthrie would be my favourite deep book. But I don't have it to photograph.
Tear soup. I read Tear soup when I did a doula course while pregnant with Eva. It was suggested to keep one or two copies on hand to gift to couples who have a stillbirth. Never in my wildest dreams was I expecting to be gifted that same book less than a year later.
Mommy please don't cry was gifted to me by my lovely neighbour on Eva's first birthday. Two months after she died. I don't love the title because how can anyone or anything tell me not to cry and I only read that book when I have the time to really, really weep. I like how the beautiful illustrations show children in heaven playing with other children and doing fun things like a birthday party and other normal things that I wish so much I could do with my precious Eva.
This is the last page and if I ever manage to read the book without crying this page always sends me there. I can't wait!
I was given about five journals when Eva was in hospital. I kept random notes in one of them. It hurts still to read the hope and the procedures now whilst knowing the outcome. I also posted on care pages and had plans of getting it bound. But, for none and some reasons I haven't done it yet. I still write in a journal. It is sporadic but I don't beat myself up about it if I don't write for awhile. I'm even more raw in there than I am on my blog, so it's not pretty. But sometimes it is. Sometimes it is beautiful. This is the one I'm currently filling. Still leftover from the many given to me. It's with my bible, and, tonight, my youngest son.
And having nothing to do with grief but a lot to do with our lives. Oct 5 is also my second son's birthday. He is a joy and a workout. Love my Vincent!
October 15 is fast approaching. Infant loss day and also Eva's birthday. I snapped this pic of Vincent's presents the night before when I got them ready. The empty chair screams at me despite Vincent filling it the next morning. Ten days later we will be getting ready for Eva's birthday where we celebrate her but she never comes for her presents or eats a piece of cake. Simply missing.
Now I am happy. Happy in an incomplete kind of way. Never completely happy. Always the lingering feeling of someone missing because, of course, there always is.
Loss has made me at once more fearful that another one of my children will die because I am acutely aware how quickly those precious little people can go from alive and laughing to limp and dead. I am also less fearful and hold my children gently, knowing they are not mine to keep forever. They are God's children. My only hope is to die before them.
Sometimes I wonder if my pain threshold has been maxed out.
I rarely leave the house without my sunglasses. Still. Three years later.
We first noticed Eva was sick when we were at family camp in June 2011. Within two days from camping with our healthy kids we were in Edmonton in icu. The worlds collided. I was lost. This summer we went back to family camp and the kids painted crafts at a picnic table. I painted Eva's name. The process of creation felt good.
Eva. Always in my heart. Oh my little Eva girl. My little girl with a broken heart.
I'm in Edmonton at the Stollery hospital with Felix and Vincent. Walking in here and the smell of microsan hand sanitizer brings Eva back to me like nothing else.
Vincent has an appointment in urology.
Felix is getting an echo and EKG in cardiology.
He has a small hole in his heart. Not likely to be a problem but the cardiologist would see him in six months to check again. I have mixed emotions. Felix is likely fine and if it weren't for Eva we would never know...and I feel so so sad that Eva never got an EKG or an echo until she was so sick.
On the cardiology unit. I miss my girl. This hallway, where I spent so much time with her and hoped to continue spending time with her. I miss my girl.
The grief comes back to me here. The love comes back to me here. I miss my girl.
Vincent sees the elevators and being the emergent reader that he is he notices Eva's name...something I never have...
See it now?
Nobody knows how much I miss my girl because nobody knows how much I love my girl. That's why grief is so lonely for everyone.
There is a pink ribbon of pain that flows through my soul. There are blues and yellows and greens and reds of joy but the pink ribbon of grief and pain and love flows through every single aspect of my life. Pink. And also invisible. While the rainbow assortment of joyful colours clamour for attention, the pink silently binds my heart. I miss my girl.
The intensity of our grief is in direct relation to the intensity of our love. I miss my girl.
On the road home Mike and I drive in silence. Each nursing our own lonely grief and love. Because even with the only other person who loved Eva as much as the other, the road of grief is lonely.
Mike says he always misses Eva most driving home from Edmonton because she would have come every single time for checkups. Eva and Edmonton are always intertwined in our hearts and it's always sad and strange and emotionally exhausting to go there.
We miss you so much our little princess Eva. You were the sparkle in our day. We miss our girl.
My birthday again. I hate my birthday. I really don't care about growing older. That's just fine. And it's not so bad anymore but three years ago I completely ignored my birthday.nwondered how I could ever have a happy birthday again. And while it's true, it's also not completely true. I can be happy again. I enjoyed the leaves that are always beautiful on my birthdays going for a little drive to enjoy them. But it's the darkest time right now. There are no memories of Eva at this time of year. She never got to see the leaves change colour or eat even one bite of my birthday cake, and I feel sad.
And this year it seemed to hit me harder. How just missing she is. How forever not here she is. The longing, it never ends.
I bought myself a cake and, as I do every year, I put the candles on my cake. One for each of my precious children. I blew them out and wished the impossible wish...then we relit them and the kids got one on each of their slices. It was fun and it was nice that Eva's candle was lit. But, man, as she gets older I almost miss her more, if that's even possible. The little almost four year old who would be totally into cake.
Sometimes looking at pictures of Eva give me comfort and sometimes I want to tear all the photos off the walls because it just hurts too damn much to look at that sweet face that once was mine and not be able to hold her.
Three years plus one month. 37 months.
She should be turning four next month. Going to preschool this month. It's all just too damn much.
Felix is nine days old. The second little brother who has life because his sister died. He has brown eyes. Chocolate eyes as we call them in our family. Nathan has eyes of the bluest blue. As if they bottled rain. His sisters eyes staring out of his face.
I am back to my early moments of grief today. But I do know that the edges of my pit are not quite as steep as they were three years ago. The darkness is not without light.
But it's amazing how hard it can hit even three years down the road. How much I still and always miss my little girl so badly.
Felix was born Saturday September 6th. He is a joyful blessing. We are grateful to have him and that he was born alive. He was born 124 years to the day after his great grandfather 1890 to 2014.
I was so happy his Oma wore this special shirt when she came to see him in the hospital.
We are grateful for our blessings but we continue to miss the little big sister that watches from above.
Felix was born at 41 weeks 6 days. It was hard to go that long as my emotions warred against each other. Knowing increased risk and how horrible that 'risk' could be. And also knowing that if all went well it was better for our littlest one to be in as long as he needed to be.
Here are a few pics of his first days...
Visits from his two biggest brothers
Getting an EKG thanks to his big sister. All looks good so far.
Vincent came home off the bus yesterday from his second day in grade one. I had missed him and hugged him hard. It felt good to feel his little body against mine. It was in the moment if holding him that I realized how much I had missed him during the day. As I held him the day melted away and I was just happy he was home again.
I can only imagine how I will feel on the day I get to hold my little girl against me again. How the years of missing her will melt away. Oh, how I long for that day and the happiness of just being home.
Three years ago yesterday my daughters body became ashes. People will say it was only her physical body but, you see, I dearly loved that sweet little body. I had kissed every inch of it and it housed one of my greatest treasures. My daughter.
Three years ago today we celebrated her life and said goodbye to our treasure.
I anticipate the day I will hold her again. I just can't wait. Loving my children here and grateful for every kiss and hug bestowed upon me but missing my precious daughter with every breath I take.
I bet it sounds impossible to you doesn't it...to miss someone with every breath and yet keep functioning and caring for my earthly people. But the truth is she is always there with me. Always on the periphery of my mind and in the center if my heart.
I would so much to have been able to talk with you at some point over the last 2.5 years. Rather than write to you on my blog.
I once thought you were my friend.
You got pregnant shortly before Eva's death, which is really fine. I was happy for you.
You came over after her death and complained about your prenatal appointments.
You called me on the phone two and a half months after Eva's death and two weeks after what should have been Eva's first birthday to agonize over the details and the guest list of your breathing daughters birthday that was coming up.
You called me on the six month anniversary of Eva's death to tell me you were in labour and to pray for you. Without acknowledging the pain of that day for me you also said you were so happy baby wouldn't be born on valentines day. I said I hoped your baby would be born alive, which, under the circumstances, was the best thing I could say at that time. Now, two years later, I would manage more tact.
You basically never spoke to me again after that. I wrote you a couple of letters. I said hello to you if I saw you somewhere. I was met with an icy hello back, occasionally. I tried to meet with you with a mediator. My sons kept asking to go over to your place or to have your son come here.
Looking back, I honestly wonder why I tried so hard. Clearly, you were not worth it.
But you showed up at Eva's ride 2012. I thanked you for coming.
My sons missed your son.
You still didn't speak to me but showed up again at Eva's ride in 2013. You also returned some girl clothes to me. Girl clothes my daughter would never wear. You invited my mom over for lunch. She raved about how well behaved your kids were. I admit it got under my skin. It felt like she was saying my kids were so bad and yours were so great.
In the fall if 2013 we accidentally ended up at some school thing together that you had organized with local moms but had not invited us to. I guess we crashed the party accidentally. I don't remember all of it but I do remember you yelling at me very publicly that every time we talked I would bully you and to stay away from you. By that time I was done trying and would gladly stay away from you.
You moved away and it was a breath of fresh air to not have to wonder if I would bump into you. To be able to tell my sons that you had moved away. Then you came back.
I didn't know you were back until you showed up at Eva's ride 2014, again. I couldn't believe it. Why? Why were you there? The last words you said to me were to stay away from you...why did you show up at an event I would clearly be at? Honestly, it felt like some kind of show. Being able to tell people there you knew the little girl who died. That you were at her birth no less (oh that still bothers me, that
you would have that sacred piece of Eva).
Then you said you were trying to reconnect with old friends and invited my son to your son's birthday party? Friends? Who? And my boys heard you...and wanted to go. I read between the lines and knew it was only Samuel you meant as an old friend and only Samuel you were inviting to the party. Not Vincent, the brother one year younger who also liked your son and who was also right there listening. On the way home I had to bite the bullet and just say I'm sorry but we just arent friends with those people anymore. You will not be going to his party.
And then your sons birthday passed and there was no follow through on the invitation. And while I breathed a sigh of relief I was also annoyed that you would invite him in earshot and then not follow through.
I let it go. Wasn't going to write you this letter...but then the phone rang. Your name popped up on call display and I froze. I let the answering machine pick up. Your son's voice on the phone (he sounds very grown up now). Inviting only Samuel to his birthday party on Tuesday August 26.
August 26. A day no one remembers but me. The last day I would cradle Eva's body in my arms before her daddy would put her in the crematorium. Something no daddy should ever have to do for his little girl.
I slept terribly from the 14th to the 15th. My body sensing the high alert I should have felt three years ago.
I managed to have a nap in the morning. Holly came over in the afternoon. I had planned supper the day before so I pretty much checked out as much as I could yesterday, while still maintaining a home with five children in it.
We had two candles burning for our princess all day.
We planted Eva's third and final tree in the late afternoon.
Our family on earth by Eva's trees. Mike and I are pretty obvious. Kids from left to right. Samuel, Vincent, Josephina, Nathan, Theodore. If you look closely Samuel is holding a stone. That stone has a butterfly and Eva's name sandblasted onto it. It was a gift from a special friend and I treasure it.
And here are Eva's trees. Three trees for three years in heaven. The one on the left with a cage around it and a pinwheel next to it is a flaming maple that is beautiful in the fall around her birthday (first year). The one on the right is a flowering crabapple that has beautiful pink blossoms in the spring (second year) and the middle one in the back is the one we planted this year. A weeping birch. I wanted a weeping willow but birch works better in our climate. I felt it was important to have a weeping tree.
Something else happened yesterday that really rattled me and is the reason I didn't blog last night.
Nathan was playing outside just before supper with the other kids. We lost a key to the lawn mower and I asked the kids to search the yard. They were searching when I heard crying outside. I went to check and Nathan was completely DRENCHED from head to toe. He had fallen in a kiddy pool of water. I talked to the kids later and not one of them had seen or heard him fall in. It is a miracle that he made it out to cry. Drowning is silent and if he hadn't cried I wouldn't have even missed him for at least another five or ten minutes.
Later we were eating supper and Mike was tickling Nathan who was laughing and laughing. I could imagine all too well how different our night would have been if Nathan hadn't cried. I am not sure to what depths of insanity I would have sunk to if I had lost another one of my precious children on another August 15th.
I don't know how he got out of that pool. I can only imagine angels lifted him out because I've seen him fall under water in the bathtub once before for a split second before I lifted him out and there is no way he could have gotten himself out of that pool, fully dressed, scared, underwater, and screaming.
The pool has since been flipped over and we will not fill it again this summer. Ironically it is for exactly this reason that we hadn't filled the pool this year. Two days ago was the first time we filled it all summer.
Missing our little Eva so much but glad we do not have to miss our little Nathan too.