It’s been six years since she left us.
It’s hard not to relive that day. For two very short days, we watched her struggle to breathe and live. My husband and I prayed that somehow a miracle would happen, but one never came.
Dear Kathryn –
I want you to know you’re missed. We love you. We remember you always.
With great sadness, we sat in a room with two doctors. A neonatal cardiologist, and another neonatal surgeon. It was about this time, sometime late morning, maybe lunch time. I may have my times all off. That day is a blur.
They told us she was not doing well. They told us her little body just could not stabilize. The fluid continued to build, no matter how much they drained. Her heart was just not able to function, and they could not do open-heart surgery because she was already not stable.
“We’ve got one last-ditch effort to make,” they told us. We looked at them with great hope that this would work. They were going to withdraw more fluid from her heart in the attempt to give it more space to do its work. I don’t know if they truly had any belief it would work, or if they were just trying something, anything, to see what might happen.
We had our pastor come baptize Kathryn. He used a tiny seashell, that I still have, in her tiny box of affairs.
We made our peace that this would likely be our last day with her.
They closed down the NICU hall for visitors so that they could do her procedure. And we waited.
Dear Kathryn –
I want you to know that I appreciate how long you stayed with us. Those two days were a gift for me, even though I know you must have been in pain.
Afterwards, they reported that they withdrew about a Coca-Cola sized can of fluid from her heart and around her heart, and now we would see what happened.
We watched her all afternoon, but no improvement or change happened. When they closed the NICU for shift-change, Jeff and I went back to my room.
The phone rang.
“You need to come back up,” they told us.
And I can’t write the details of the next few hours because it still hurts THAT bad to remember it.
Dear Kathryn –
Those few moments I held you are the most blessed memory of all. You changed my life. You changed my heart. You gave me a mission.
Thankfully, the family was able to make it in to be with us as we said goodbye.
I know people worry that it’s been six years and I still grieve for her on this day.
I want you to know that I am okay, that we are okay, but we will NEVER be okay that she’s not with us. And that’s not abnormal. That is 100% completely normal. Just like you’ll never stop missing your mother or father or grandmother or favorite uncle, or best friend, or spouse, or whomever it is you have lost. But with a child, it’s just different.
I do not grieve daily or regularly.
We miss her always. But we are doing okay. On Kathryn Day, the day she passed away, we do our best to honor her, remember her, celebrate her, and give back to the community because of her. We’ve collected HaHa Coloring Joke books to donate to children in the foster care system this year as our special service project for #kathrynday2017. And we’ll send packages to other mothers. Always.
I continue to talk about it and share it for two main reasons.
One, I want to be able to help others who are going through their own sadness and loss. I can’t help them if I’m not willing to share my own grief, sadness, healing, encouragement, and light… yes, there will be light again.
Two – I write to help others who have NO idea of how to help someone experiencing this kind of loss.
I write so that people know and understand it is okay to reach out, to help without asking, to say the baby’s name, to remember the baby, to BE THERE. Those parents need you but can’t always ask for your help. Just help them.
By the way, I’m actually participating in a FREE summit about grief this week – and talking about how writing through the pain has helped me heal. If you’re grieving, not only from the loss of a child or pregnancy, but any loss, you should attend the free summit… After Chloe…Living After Loss.
Let me share one thing with you if you know someone who has just gone through a loss.
The worst thing you can do is to say or do nothing at all.
I learned yesterday that a young mother, a woman I do not know well at all, but have had the pleasure to start getting to know, very unexpectedly lost her 9-month-old son two days ago. She is the reason I continue this journey. To be there for her, to comfort her, and to help others as they try to help her as well. My heart is with her as she goes through the very worst days of her life. While I know she will heal eventually, it will never go away. Never.
I’ll be sending care packages this holiday season to grieving parents. If you’d like to donate to help in that cause, you can do so on our Nonprofit Sunshine After the Storm website. Look for the Donate Now button in the right sidebar.
We also sell my book, Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother, and use the proceeds to donate the book free of charge to hospitals and bereavement groups. I offer a discounted rate for bulk orders if you’d like to donate to a local hospital or bereavement group.
Dear Kathryn –
I will miss you every day of my life. I love you.