Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I forgot my promise...

I forgot. The only real promise I ever made to Lauren, I forgot. Three years ago on April 25th, my husband Jon and I with our three children and a close friend went to the hospital sponsored funeral service for Lauren and all the other babies that recently passed. The day she died, we were given the option of making funeral arrangements ourselves or participating in the services the hospital offered. I could not imagine making any type of "Arrangements" in the state I was in. So April 25th it was.

I remember the day very clearly, I was nervous - not just about how appropriate the service would be, but about how I would be able to cope. I was in a bubble. I remember the different neighborhoods passing as we drove to an unfamiliar part of Baltimore County, I remember what everyone was wearing, Jon-Jon and Q in their “we are dressed up” uniforms - khakis, oxford shirts and sweater vests. Five month old Noelle was wearing an adorable sweater and floral dress. I remember.

The service was just the right length, long enough to be respectable and sincere, short enough that the reality of it wasn't grueling. It was the right mix of practicality and spirituality. I don't remember the words, I remember the tone and it just kept reminding me that should have two little girls. The feeling of disbelief was astounding. Even now, it's still very real to me although no longer connected to devastation and trauma. However, on that day, I made a promise. I promised Lauren that April 25th would be her day. I promised and I forgot.

My life and my issues got away from me, and the day just passed as quickly as it came. I had decided a few weeks back to go to the cemetery and just sit. Sit, think, wonder, cry, remember - I was going to allow whatever I felt to come up and I was going to "let it". I don't know about other mothers who have lost babies, but it is very easy to get in the habit of pushing the sadness aside. Not "letting it" come up fully, not because you are in denial, but because you have to go to work, or take care of your other children, or deal with your parents. Life gets so busy that you say with your actions, "I'll deal with that later."

I believe that when you find out you are pregnant and acknowledge that your body becomes the sanctuary for your child to grow, you immediately begin the "mothering". We don't begin at their birth, we begin to mother our children by monitoring our diet, reading everything we can get our hands on or choosing the right doctors. We prepare and nurture our environments so our newborns can flow easily into our lives. We may not be perfect in it, and the execution of our preparation may not match all that we dreamed, but we try. Just like we try with our present children. But when you lose that baby, in or outside of the sanctuary you provided - all those hormones, dreams and expectations can get stuck, bottled up with no where to go. There is no off switch to those dreams, to that love that was meant to be expressed for that one little person. That is a hard - hard thing.

We deal with the immediate pain as best we can. We try to process through the residual as best we can. For some of us, we make decisions to memorialize or celebrate the children that passed. April 25th was my decision. It was going to be my "mothering" time for Lauren and I forgot. I am guilty of forgetting the only thing that is singularly hers.

It's a familiar guilt, like when you promise your child a special trip to the park, or a Wii competition and you don't deliver. It's not about the park, or the video game it’s about the fact that you didn’t deliver what was most important - you. Not out of selfishness, but maybe you were too late at the office, or you had to replace that burnt dinner at the last minute. You feel guilty because you know you didn't honor your word and that child doesn't really understand (or care to) the realities of the rat race we put ourselves in. It's hard not to feel like a let-down.

Right now, I'm hurting over the fact that I did not honor my word. I feel like crap.

I need to go now because here comes Noelle, she’s excitedly telling me about her big pink house with the beetle car that turns into an airplane to take "me and you" to pink China. And I hear my husband calling me - he's yelling from the living room that our 6 year old Q with ADHD has just passed his first Akido test - he is now a yellow belt.  Life is still GREAT!



  1. CJ,

    You may have forgotten the date but you will never forget Lauren and that is so clear through your writing.

    I am sorry that you forgot but please do not beat yourself up over it. It's not too late to visit her at the cemetery and let her know that you are still loving and remembering her.

    Life can often be so overwhelming!

  2. Thank you. Just writing this helped lead me to that conclusion. In a way - it fulfilled that need. But I will be taking that trip.

  3. My heart breaks for the way you must feel. My mom lost my sister when she was five and now that I have kids the grief I remember seeing on her face overwhelms me. But never forget that your love for your daughter is what is so improtant. You didn't let her down, your blog is a perfect testiment to that fact.

    I almost hate to say it because your post moved me so much but I am following you from MBC

  4. It is obvious you still honor her in your heart.

  5. Oh CJ, my heart aches for you. You haven't let her down at all; she's in your heart....and your heart is allowed to sing for the little angles that are present in your life today.

    This is an amazing post, right from your core and I am so grateful you've shared it with us.

  6. I have to agree with the others. Your love for your little girl shows in your writing and even though you wanted that to be "her day" it is obvious that she continues to live in your heart EVERY DAY. No matter how much we may desire for it to be so, life never goes on hold when you are a mom. Give her those moments continuously instead of just one day then she will always be close just like she is in your heart.

  7. Wow! You guys give fabulous and sincere comments. Thanks! I am happy to say that the guilt has passed. Just writing that post settled something in me. That bond will never be broken. NO matter what the circumstances we are forever connected to our children.

  8. I gave you a blog award...check it out!

  9. This was a very touching post=:) I agree she will always be in your heart! Thanks for visiting my blog and we hail from the same hometown. I'm now following you. My 3yo's middle name is Noelle :)

    Peace & Blessings,

  10. Thanks Cocoamommy! And I think your blog is great!