It is hard to describe where I am and who I am right now in this uncharted world of tremendous grief. I have sat down many times to write and my words just get so jumbled in my head I cannot get them into writing. Charlotte turning five last month tore my heart open more than I could ever have anticipated. I am not sure why, grief is funny that way it just happens, out of our control and at the least expected times.
Five is a huge milestone in a typical child's life. It means kindergarten, crafts, friends. It means school shopping, and school with a big sister. I am not sure that I ever imagined her entering kindergarten while she was alive, as she taught me with great clarity to live only in the present day, sometimes only in the present hour. I didn't dream of what her life would be like as she grew, I was consumed with living life with her in the present. The first kindergarten notification came in the mail in the fall - "Open House" come explore the possibilities. I smiled at the silent but simple reminder of my baby girl - she existed, a piece of real mail came in the mail for her, but also shed a small tear as I quietly tossed it into the garbage. An experience she will never have. Then the second notification came, and this time I got a little (or maybe big pang in my heart), they were really trying to remind me of what was not to be. I quickly tossed it in the trash, thinking that if I didn't send the paperwork in they would get the point. Then a month before her birthday a large "Welcome to Kindergarten" packet arrived with loads of paper work to fill out. For about a minute I plotted my plan to fill it out and send it back noting where I could that she was deceased - I mean she was tied in with Birth to Three through our district, didn't the information get passed along? I would never have sent it in - in case you are wondering it would have just been my silent rebellion that I would eventually toss in the trash. I quickly remembered that this was not their fault - how could they possibly know that she was an Angel in Heaven, and acting in rebellion was not only going to hurt myself but was not the most Christian way to act. It was time to make the call. So I silently dialed the numbers, and quietly told them that My Charlotte Umezu had passed away two years ago and if possible could they take us off the mailing list. Bittersweet. An admittance of what will never be, of what could have been, but never will.
And then there are the babies. They are everywhere. My womb aches at the sound of the newborn baby cry at Target, easily recognized in the first few weeks of life. My heart longs for kicks, and pushes, nudges, nausea, aches, pains - anything when I see the hundreds of pregnant women who seem to have over populated the Twin Cities the past six months. Our rainbow, our hope should be five almost six months old by now. Laughing, meeting milestones, filling the hole in our souls a little bit that while never can be fully filled, could be patched by the promise of new life. Maybe that is part of the problem, the hope that I put on Maggie, the enormous burden that I forced on her to save us, to rejuvenate us, to bring us life where all we think of is death. That is an enormous task for such a tiny soul. I was terrified the entire pregnancy, much like I was with Charlotte, oddly looking back, maybe it was intuition, or maybe our life circumstances that had abruptly taught us that life is not all fairy tails or roses. But deep inside, hidden from the world, in my heart and soul behind all the terror that filtered out of my body, was hope, was excitement, was joy. All things that should be part of having a baby. I mean even though I know life is not fair, and the burdens of some far exceed those of others, we couldn't really lose another child again could we, I mean there was no way. So I let my worries flow, but also searched deep down for the hope that Maggie was going to bring us, and the reminder of how beautiful life is. This is where I have realized I was misguided in my heart and soul. It is impossible to put the weight of hope and saving on a human being, and certainly not a baby. The task of saving myself and becoming alive again in mind, body, and spirit is tasked solely on me personally, it is an individual journey that no one can do for me, there is no physical thing, no human being, no one experience that can rescue me from the grief that weighs me down. This is a journey that I have to embark on alone (I believe not alone, as I believe I am accompanied by Jesus in his suffering and united with Him in his suffering in this journey, but that is my personal belief). So I have come to understand that the tool to save myself from a human life of sadness and longing is inside me, and it is inside each of us, we just have to look deep, suffer greatly, and walk the path of grief in order to use it.
I know this tool will not lift the burden from my life that I carry of grief. You don't put two of your child's ashes into a gravesite and walk away a normal, person, nor do you walk away the same innocent person you were before. I am acutely aware that as most children play, run, laugh and form friendships on the playgrounds surrounding my beautiful girls ashes that they too could have had this had God had other plans for them. And there are days were I want to claw my way through their burial site and shake the urns and make them human again, however most might find this hard to believe, and will not understand at all - despite my desperate aching for them in my arms, to have them here living with us, I cannot wish them back from the Glory that they have in Heaven. If I could have a different story for our family from the beginning would I write it differently - yes highly likely, I would want to erase all the bad, all the sadness, all the suffering that my beautiful girls endured, have them here by my side, living the life that I always imagined, a house filled with chaos, messes, pitter pattering feet, squabbles, laughter, happiness, and exhaustion. But they way our story has been written is not that way, and while selfishly I want them here with us, I know beyond a reasonable doubt that they are safe and sound in more beauty and splendor than we can ever imagine, where they know no pain, all they know is love. God gave me a brief look at what that splendor looked like when we lost Maggie, and I believe that he was showing me so that I knew, so that I know that they are ok, that when I get there, my pain and suffering will dissipate like theirs did and that the lessons that I have learned in this short human life, have prepared me to experience the glory like no other.
So while I am in a pretty dark and lonely place right now, and a lot of days feel sadder than I have ever felt (even with make-up and curled hair out and about) imagining how life could have been right now, the ripping open of my soul deep and jagged, as made room for my faith to grow deeper and stronger in a way that I could never have imagined. I continue to question, wonder why this is our journey, wish that it was a bad dream, and desperately wish that both my beautiful girls were in living flesh, I know that there is meaning and purpose behind their stories. Every single person on this Earth has a meaning, and a purpose, no matter how long or short you live. That meaning may be hidden, seem obscure, or may not even be known yet, but I know without a doubt that both Charlotte and Maggie have a purpose that I am charged with carrying out for them. But in order to do that, I have to find my rainbow inside of me, as it is only something I can do. And please forgive me if I am reclusive, and preferring to be home and alone sometimes, that is how I process things and sometimes, social activities are too exhausting afterwards to put forth the effort to pretend that I am normal. Because I am my own kind of normal. A normal that knows more sadness than I wish on any of my worst enemies. A normal that sometimes just needs to be alone. A normal that is our story, my families story, and Charlotte's and Maggie's story.