When you lose a child, the world, offensively and frustratingly, keeps turning. This fact has been one of the hardest to deal with in the four months it has been since we buried our beautiful five-month-old daughter, Mira. How dare Christmas come? How rude of springtime to grandly announce its arrival without her little eyes here to behold the colorful blooms! I can’t even think about Easter, my favorite holiday of all. Worst of all, how dare families continue to thrive and grow, meanwhile we sit choked in the mire of loss.
Time has me in a weird bind where Mira is and forever will be five months old. But, I am also always thinking of where she would be. The same applies to the six babies I lost to miscarriage. Josie, would have turned five in August, for example. James would been two now. Friends with similar due dates went on to birth and raise their kids who walk around as examples of what could have been for us, and I still struggle to interact with their growing children.
What results is this game of dodging. We don’t go to certain stores, avoid specific aisles. Yesterday, I waited in line to pay for a comforter for our new foster son’s bed, the twin bed replacing the crib my daughter never really got to sleep in, when I realized the lady in front of me had an infant around Mira’s age, and the sudden panic welled up in my throat. I backed up and put myself around the corner so merchandise blocked my view of the squishy toes kicking and peeking out from the stroller. Another woman behind me asked if I was in line, clearly annoyed by my weird behavior. I said yes without explanation, but it took all of my willpower not to say tell her to just get over the fact that I had to stand back far away from the baby that reminded me of my dead daughter. People tend to look shocked when you say such things, though.
I found that out firsthand when, days after Mira died, I was parked next to a woman at Target, who was understandably tired and frustrated with her two-under-two as she attempted to wrestle them into car seats. She joked, exasperated, that she wanted to get rid of the kids, and I tearfully retorted, “You don’t know how lucky you are. At least you have yours, I just buried my five-month old.” I jumped in the car and slammed the car door and cried, leaving my mom to explain to the seriously horrified woman that we were returning her Christmas presents, and to give me grace because I was just a little unstable. I saw that lady clutch her heart and weep as she drove away.
I don’t know when I’ll ever be normal, or if that even exists now that Mira is gone. Mira helped my heart after so many miscarriages. Having her in the present, and having hope for her future dulled the ache of the what might have beens. She never replaced my other babies, of course, but she gave me reason to dream, imagine, and plan. I don’t know if I will always be that lady dodging babies and taking the long way around to avoid young families, or if I will alway be looking at the ground while a cashier coos at the little one in the line in front of me, asking too many questions that make me literally want to vomit and cry and scream all at once. I hope not.
A wise person once told me that the only way through grief is to simply go through it. I know life will continue to go on. Seasons will still change. Baby-sized church clothes will still hang on the racks of the store at Easter. The fact that life goes on won’t change. Missing her won’t change. I do hope that I will change. I hope that with each season, each celebration missed, each holiday without her, I will grow stronger and braver and continue to find the joy in this life without Mira. Each day, after all, is one day closer to the day to heaven, where I will hold her and all of my other littles again.