Thursday, November 15, 2012

It Takes a Village...

Today is one year we let our entire circle of friends in on what we had been walking through for almost 3 weeks.  November 15 is when we found out her heart had stopped.  Over the last year I didn't know what I would say on this day but then I have kept a notebook where I have written down the kind things that happened along the way.  The unexpected friends that lifted me up.  The unexpected strangers that came across my path, that God sent to us to help move forward. The moments that I couldn't walk and someone carried me.  I thought I would share them here.  When days were tough I would go back and read things that I didn't ever want to forget.  It simply took a village, and I am thankful that we had that.  (please know, there may have been more than listed....but these are what I found in my notebook)

I will never forget first hearing the bad news and grabbing onto a friend from work.  Melissa helped me navigate telling staff and seeing the road ahead.  She is also someone that sat with me on my birthday as my tears poured out and never judged.  never.  any of my process of grieving.

I will never forget how our OB stayed on her day off to deliver Juliette.  She couldn't leave us with a stranger, not for something like this.

I will never forget Liz coming to take pictures of our family shortly after I delivered and the way she extended her hand of friendship to me.

I will never forget text messages from Red while I was in the hospital having troubles delivering.

I will never forget Vernon calling and praying for us and we held Juliette for the last time.

I will never forget my kind, caring and patient husband.

I will never forget the care package that arrived from Shannon, my sister and  her kiddos.  It warmed my heart even over the miles. It was like receiving hugs in a box.

I will never forget Anthony putting together a swarm of people for food, groceries, lunches...to move us through the painful days that were the Holidays.

I will never forget the calls, texts, emails, letters that arrived for us.  I have saved them all to go back and read this Saturday.

I will never forget the kind message left by Tim Tracey.  An unexpected message that brought tears to my eyes and that he would take the time.

I will never forget Devon bringing over a Thanksgiving meal for us and looking down and seeing Eloise sucking the turkey juice out of the box and towel in the box.  I think it was the first time I laughed.  Devon left the towel with us and I always think about that moment.

I will never forget Leeah Taylor helping me to step on the mat and just breathe.  And always being ok with my tears in any of her yoga classes.  I gained such an amazing friend.

I will never forget walks with Desiree.  There was no pressure to talk or be anyone except for who I am.  That is priceless.

I will never forget New Years with my sister and her family in Virginia.  Her kiddos had endless hugs for me and snuggle time.  We had many great laughs around Just Dance and many tears over our loss.

I will never forget sitting with Brian and Angie Davis while in Virginia.  A family that has suffered much in the world of cancer and health. But took the time to sit with me and Sammy.

I will never forget Deniece.  I sang with her at Disney.  She was pregnant with her daughter, Akemi.  We reconnected over having just a facebook friendship for a few years.  I will never forget her allowing me to send some of Juliette's things for Akemi.  It helped clear out memories and helped me move on.  It made it better that these things were on another little girl.

I will never forget Tracie.  A college friend who just made herself available.  All the time.  I feel lucky to have reconnected with her just a few years back only a short time after I met Sammy.  She consistently reminds me that God can handle whatever it is that have on that day...including my anger and asking why over and over again.

I will never forget the card that arrived from my sister Erin on my due date in March.  She remembered and it meant a lot to me.

I will never forget Andrea Canny always being available by phone, always.  Thankfully...she's a night owl and so I know I can always ring her at the oddest times and she will pick up.  And she never tries to solve things, she just lets me get it out.

I will never forget Aunt Becky and her daughter, Andrea.  Aunt Becky rarely missed a 15th or 17th of the month to call me and she always made herself available.  Andrea sent me a beautiful necklace, and has often written me kind words.

I will never forget meeting Nicole at the mall in Orlando, FL.  She asked me about my tattoo and then I shared our story.  We talked for almost 30 minutes and are now friends that stay in touch.

I will never forget my first day at work at ZACH and turning the corner and the Juliet balcony being shown to me.  Insignificant to some.  Extremely significant to me.  My Juliette showed up, showing me that the arts wanted me back.

And even today...I will never forget a walk with a new friend, Claudia, that I was able to connect with through her sister, Maria.  Both of these women encouraging me to hope and wish for a different ending.

All of these people's.  All of these actions have pushed me, have pushed us to walk this very painful journey and see hope at the end of it.  It's true, the grieving never stops, it just gets a little less.  The pain in my heart will hang there forever and I am ok with that.  Juliette changed me.  Her heart changed mine, and for the good.  The small stuff, is just the small stuff.  Life is simply too short to not love recklessly and with total abandon.  You can hold me to that.

November 15, 2011.  Juliette, your heart stopped and I had days where I wanted mine too as well.  I kept my promise to you that I would take care of myself and I would look to love and faith to see us through.  My love is no less today, in fact, it is more.  Saturday, your Dad and I will remember and celebrate your brief but beautiful life and the 8 hours I was able to spend with you.

Thanks friends for seeing us through this first year.  We love you.

Colleen & Sammy

 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Stillness, one year later

It seems very strange to write this.  It's been one year since we lost Juliette.  Tomorrow is the day we found out her heart had stopped.  Saturday will be one year since I delivered her at 9 am on November 17, 2011. I learned a new term this week, the death of a baby after 20 weeks is called 'stillbirth'.  The term couldn't be more appropriate.  I remember everything being very still once I delivered her.  The side of the hospital we stayed on was still, the nurses, Sam, and even myself.  We knew there would be no cry that came once I pushed her tiny body out.  At that moment, in the stillness, all I wanted was time.  Sometimes I would give my right arm to have those 8 hours back with her and make them last that much longer.

I think over the past year I cried out for....understanding, compassion and support.   My answers?  I will never understand, compassion comes in many different forms and getting through this takes a village.  I needed time to grieve, and time to adjust to the gaping hole in our family, in my heart, left by the death of Juliette.

It seems odd to write that in all of this there has been tremendous blessings.  I have seen that on the other side of suffering, blessings are revealed.  That doesn't make the pain easier, and as I continue to move through the grieving process with a willingness to be open to myself and God, I have become more aware of the blessings.  The losses and the grief that we bear are the means through which we grow more fully into our true selves and into God.  Today, this week, I can honestly say that I embrace my entire life with more love and gratitude.  To embrace ourselves with love in the midst of life’s suffering is to heal the heart.  I still cry over Juliette and the loss but my tears are not just about pain but also about intense love.  Love of her and love that has been woven in my lives through friends and family that have walked me through a very difficult year.

I am not sure when it happened but somewhere in this journey I started listening to things deep inside me, and when I became willing to the world of memories and feelings that exists in my depths, I started to have the capacity with God's love to heal what is wounded and understand that this particular wound will never be completely healed.

I write this to ask for just a few more prayers and love sent our way over the next few days.  Tomorrow will be hard.  Her heart stopped, there was nothing we could do.  Saturday will be hard.  That day was supposed to be different for us.  Delivery wasn't supposed to end in stillness.  Whatever it is that you do, send it our way this week, I will take any of that.