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We picked up her ashes yesterday . . . our daughter’s ashes.

Though the funeral home was only about an hour away, the trip felt like an eternity. I stared blankly out the window for most of the drive, somewhat calmed by the cocktail of medications I had been placed on and was brought back to reality only by the occasional pain searing through my abdomen.

When we arrived, the parking lot was completely empty. Snow lined the edges of the lot, and the sun shone all too brightly. We had assumed the funeral director would be there to greet us, but instead, a message on my husband’s phone indicated he would be late.

We sat quietly for some time when, finally, a vehicle pulled into the lot. An elegant older woman stepped out. The look in her eyes when she met mine so clearly said,  “I should be here, you should not.” Soon after, a large black vehicle pulled in, and we watched as the funeral director emerged. As my heart rate began to increase and a wave of nausea washed over me, my husband gave my hand a firm, yet tender squeeze, letting me know it was time to go in.

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As soon as we stepped out of the car my chest tightened and the tears began to flow. My legs felt heavy and despite the cold weather, my body was on fire. The closer we got to the building the harder it felt to walk. By the time we reached the entrance, my husband had to slowly drag me through the doors.

Clutching my stomach, I slowly shuffled along the carpet, keeping my head low, not wanting to acknowledge what was really happening. We were led to a small room full of couches, low lighting, and that distinct funeral home smell. Tears were streaming down my face, and when I heard the funeral director’s footsteps re-approach, I completely fell apart. I was sobbing. Snot dripping. Couldn’t open my eyes.

I was gripping my husband’s hand so hard I felt like I could’ve crushed it. I didn’t want to see the urn. The urn that now held the remains of my sweet, sweet girl.
The whole experience felt surreal. Was I ever really pregnant? Did my little girl actually die?

I sat, my pulse shaking my entire body with every beat, as my daughter’s short 20 hours of life replayed in my head. I could see her low-set ears. I could hear her strong, yet gentle cry. I could feel her tiny hand, with six little fingers, wrapping around mine. I could recall the words I never wanted to hear, “medically non-viable pregnancy in the presence of Trisomy 13.” My sweet girl. Gone.

When I finally opened my eyes and saw the small urn in my husband’s hand, I wept in the most broken way. I touched the side of the urn. Gently running my finger along the pink engraved design. I took it into my hands, held it tight against my chest, and cried, “My poor baby” over and over.

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My husband desperately tried to remind me to breathe as he took back our daughter’s urn. I was gently rocking back and forth, sharp stinging pain along my C-section scar reminding me this was all too real.

I was now gripping my husband’s hand with my left and the funeral director’s with my right. As if holding onto them was the only thing keeping me alive. The funeral director kneeled in front of me and did his best to provide some comfort. He was so incredibly kind. Truly empathetic.

When my breathing slowed, he explained the important information to my husband and gave us a folder signifying it was time to go. I did my best to thank him between sharp gasps and gentle sobs as we walked out the door. It was time to finally bring her home.

Originally published on the author’s Facebook page

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Kaitlynn Ratcliff

I am a 28-year-old mother to an angel who owns and operates an award-winning, private preschool. I am married to the love of my life and spend the majority of my days seeking God and making a difference in my community through the families I serve. I love photography, hiking, playing with my mini golden-doodle, Moose, and spending time with family.

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