The Club

There are times when it feels like I’m walking around with an open wound. I’ve described the feeling like I’m in a world of hurt but I’ve got nothing to show for it.

When mothers deliver babies, it usually leads to a little one on her hip. When a person is wounded, many times there is a bandage, a cast or a wheelchair to help them heal. There is no handicap hang tag for this. There isn’t even a name for this. I recently read a quote that talks about when one loses a spouse, they become a widow or a widower, when a child loses their parents, they are called an orphan…but what is the name for parents who say good-bye to their child?

There isn’t a name. But there is a club. Once you outlive your own child, you’re in. It’s a club no one wants to be in, but once you’re in…you’re in. Audrey’s story felt rare and uncommon for a long period of time this year. We now realize how many children are sick, how many parents have felt or are feeling almost exactly the same emotions we are. I feel thankful for the club, it helps me feel less alone. I regret that there are other parents in it, I wish for their sake that they weren’t members. But then I stop. I think that if we all weren’t in this seemingly exclusive club, we wouldn’t have known our babies and kids. The best thing we can do as fellow club members is to love and support each other, to try not to compare, to gain perspective and to welcome new members with open arms and soft hearts.

When we first learned that our baby was a girl, it was our 8th wedding anniversary. When Chris opened that envelope, I watched him with a discerning eye, wondering what he was thinking. A girl…our daughter. I’m not sure what exactly went through his mind, but I will never forget what I pictured in that moment…

My mind danced with images of how the love of my life would show his daughter what true love means. He would teach her never to settle. I pictured him with a crown on his head while playing tea party and being kicked in the ribs while she pretended he was a horse. I saw her wrapped tightly around his finger. I saw him wiping away salty tears from her freckled cheek because of her first broken heart. My thoughts full of images of her wedding day, walking down the aisle alongside her adoring daddy. I played a video in my head of the proud smile on his face when his little girl became a mother herself.

I saw her being loved by her daddy the way I have been by my own. I wanted that for her. I wanted that for Chris.

DaddyWearsCrown

TinyPrincess A crown for a princess on her last day.

But instead, I physically witnessed his love for her. My own two eyes saw him kiss the tip of her nose, swaddle her with care, snuggle her tightly, fight for her and love her without condition. On her last day, he put on a crown for his princess. It brought a smile to our faces and warmth to my heart. He loved her for where she was in each moment. I am so thankful for the love she received from her daddy. It may not have been what I pictured in the beginning, but it was even more beautiful than my mind could even dream. When she was restless in my belly, the touch of his hand would bring an undeniable stillness over her. This worked also after she was born. He had a way of calming her that no one else could. He is patient, kind and understanding. She knew this and would sink fully into him. He brought her peace and comfort.

My thoughts drift to my own parents and Chris’ parents. In the same vein that there is no word to label parents who lose children, do we remember the grandparents in the situation enough? Do we acknowledge their ache? Not only did they lose their grandchild, but they are uncomfortably burdened with knowing their own child is hurting and they can’t fix it. There is no amount of Neosporin that eases the pain. The Barbie or Superman bandaid doesn’t cover the wound for their child this time. The pain for grandparents seems to be doubly difficult. So to you, our dear parents and all the grandparents in the world who suffer similarly, thank you for your strength. Thank you for hurting with us, for supporting us and for loving us through it. We can’t do it without you.

I don’t admit to being country music’s biggest fan, but I cannot deny my love for hits by Garth Brooks, Diamond Rio, Brooks & Dunn and the like. This week, my Pandora station was set to Thunder Rolls Radio (insert sheepish grin) and the song, “One More Day” by Diamond Rio began to overtake my attention. All of a sudden, the words to this song I have heard 100 times before held more meaning. Click HERE to read the lyrics in full. The short version is that if I had one wish, I would ask for one more day with “her”. I would be intentional and on-purpose in how I would spend that day. But at the end of my “one more day” I would simply be wishing for, yes, you guessed it…one more day.

Pan over to the puddle building over the bathroom sink. I broke. I listened to this song and thought how true it is. I would give almost anything to have one more day with my daughter. But it wouldn’t be enough, would it? I want one million more days with her. One would be insufficient. One would merely be a tease.

Audrey, 

It’s been five weeks since we said good-bye, well, see you later really. FIVE weeks. It feels like it was yesterday. Are you good, baby? Are you happy and healthy? I don’t even have to ask, I know you are. We miss you here, sweet girl. The world is better because you lived…but it just isn’t the same without you. A friend made her way to Heaven this week. Another baby girl earned her wings, watch for Maya, okay? Today we celebrated the impending arrival of your friend on Earth, Lucy. She got some lucky strawberry diapers in your honor. Remember those? I can’t wait to see her in one, it will make me think of your cute bum and smile. Don’t give up on us, keep waiting for us. We’ll see you again angel. 

Love & Hugs,

R

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6 thoughts on “The Club

  1. Rachel, your ability and willingness to bear your soul is such a testimony to your devotion to Audrey’s legacy. How tender it is that you grasp your parents’ pain. My sister lost her little boy, 25 years ago and mother grieved for her own personal loss and for that of her daughter. May each of you find comfort in your love for one another. Prayers for all of you, continue.

  2. Bunny Bug so deeply missed, Chris (our Prince) adored and and admired since 1983, and you dear, Rachel, a spirit to carry us ever forward! And marvelous Coop, as I, has lost a sister…..hold him close.

  3. Rachel, it is for you that my heart truly aches …. I know only you can feel what you are feeling and it is for all of us to try to empathize with what that might feel like, but please, my dear sister (in law), please know that all of us are aching so much for YOUR loss….. you knew Audrey deeper than all of us and Chris was right by your side…. and all of us as family were with you in physical forms and in spirit …. but the loss and the pain still linger and still remain and I think they might always slightly, but the power in those things continues to amaze me daily, not that it feels good or is pleasant, or is something I want any of my loved ones to endure ….. but above all, know I am right here for you and with you, feeling immense pain — wishing for “one more day”….. “one more day” that I might have been able to see your angel, our angel again ….. Know that I love you with my whole heart, Rachel, always. Donovan too. We love you and your family so much, always.

  4. Rachel, it is for you that my heart truly aches …. I know only you can feel what you are feeling and it is for all of us to try to empathize with what that might feel like, but please, my dear sister (in law), please know that all of us are aching so much for YOUR loss….. you knew Audrey deeper than all of us and Chris was right by your side…. and all of us as family were with you in physical forms and in spirit …. but the loss and the pain still linger and still remain and I think they might always slightly, but the power in those things continues to amaze me daily, not that it feels good or is pleasant, or is something I want any of my loved ones to endure ….. but above all, know I am right here for you and with you, feeling immense pain — wishing for “one more day”….. “one more day” that I might have been able to see your angel, our angel again ….. Know that I love you with my whole heart, Rachel, always. Donovan too. We love you and your family so much, always. ❤ ❤

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