I am not afraid to talk about my daughter. I used to be. I used to wonder what people would think of me, of her. Would they understand? Would they think something was wrong with her? Would they think it was my fault?
I now stand proudly and tell people that I have a daughter in heaven. I am proud to be her mama, and no matter what happens I will never deny that she lived, no matter how briefly.
But one thing that I haven’t done, not a single time, is explain in detail the story of her life here on Earth. Namely, her conception, her life in my belly, her birth and her death.
I know other baby loss parents have, and I am not saying that it is a bad thing. To share that loss in detail, to be that vulnerable, is such a wonderful act of compassion as it can help so many others in their journey. Please do not interpret what I am about to say as a judgement on them, or any other mama.
I haven’t shared Hope’s story with anyone because, to me, I feel like it would validating someone else's need to be convinced that she lived. Or that her life was somehow long enough or special enough or miraculous enough to be considered worthy of remembering.
Her conception and my pregnancy with her are very sensitive subjects and I do not share them lightly because I do not want Hope’s life coloured by these. She cannot be defined by how she came to be, and I will not let it be a reason for people to judge myself or her.
The day she left me, the day she was born and the day she died, will remain in my memory as the best and worst moments of my life. Never have I experienced love of such depth, or a connection so intimate that permeated my soul. I have never felt such strong emotions. Such joy, such overwhelming grief and sadness. Never have I ever felt so confused or ever questioned more my faith in God’s plan.
All of this I felt in the space of a few short hours. The time from when I knew something was wrong to walking out of the hospital with an empty womb and broken heart wouldn’t have been more than most people spend watching television everyday.
In all honesty, and I say this with all the love in the world for my little girl, her birth and death were anti-climactic. She slipped silently into this world, her tiny heart stopped beating and she died. Nothing that doesn’t happen every day, all over the world. It’s so common and tragic and wrong that it seems almost hard sometimes to imagine how any baby makes it into this world alive at all.
That day was and is the single most personal event in my whole life, and while there may come a day when I feel I want to share it, it still remains the only time I spent with my daughter and that is something I am not willing to give up just yet.
Hope’s story to me is not confined to dates and times and memories and stories. It is so much more than that, SHE is SO much more than that.
Her story continues with every person I meet who tells me that they have lost a baby as well. It is alive every time I get to give a grieving family a picture of their angel. The legacy of hope and love that she is leaving with each person who hears about her is living on far longer than her short life on Earth.
And THAT is her story. I want her to be known, I want her to be remembered, I want her to be loved. I want people to know that she lived, she was here, she was important, she was wanted and so, so loved. And I believe that I can do that so much more through her legacy, through my ministry with parents, through the people I meet and the friends I make.
It won’t make her anymore “real” to people, or any less gone to me by sharing the intimate details of her birthday. That is something only Hope and I shared, and it is something that will most likely stay that way.
So please, if you want to know more about her life please feel free to ask me privately. But know that there are things that I haven’t shared for a reason, and try not to be offended if I fail to go into detail.
And please, please think of Hope in terms of what her life is doing for others and help me to make sure that her life and her legacy are not overshadowed by her death.
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