I am tired. I think I’ve been tired for at least six months now, though the ultimate source of my exhaustion has been different. I was tired while I was in the hospital at the end of my pregnancy due to super-high blood pressure and pregnancy and worry. I was tired when we first brought Samantha home because we only got to sleep in one to three hour increments depending on her feeding needs. And then the hospital didn’t do much for sleep either when she was admitted. And then we brought her home and had the get-up-round-the-clock routine again. I thought for sure that once she died I’d sleep for a week. But sleep has been eluding me instead. I go go go throughout the day, occupying my mind with reading stuff online, watching television, talking to people, organizing our house, or preparing stuff at church for the fall (confirmation, Sunday school, youth group). There is always something to keep me busy. But then when night comes and I try to lay down and sleep, my head fills with thoughts of her. I’m overcome with sorrow, and I can’t sleep. Sometimes my mind whirls with thoughts of “what could we have done differently?” Sometimes the memories are good ones, of her cute little hands and feet, the way she’d twist her head from side to side when she was hungry, or the feel of her on my chest as she slept. Sometimes I’m filled with longing for all the dreams I had for the future, from having a little girl running around the house giggling to helping her get ready for her wedding. Sometimes the thoughts are related to all of the “why” questions that just keep coming. Particularly lately I keep wondering why she couldn’t stay with us even after she got sick. We were prepared (as much as anyone can be) for bringing home a child with disabilities. We have family surrounding us that could have helped. We were learning all about the resources available in the community. Yet instead, we found ourselves with empty arms and an empty crib. And so much sadness that sometimes I still can’t breathe.
I start crying two, three times a day on good days. Bad days the tears just keep coming. And the things that make me cry are so strange. This morning it was the traffic reports on the news, flooding my mind with memories of that morning going down to Houston after Travis called to tell me our baby was much more sick than we realized. I had gone home from the emergency room in the Woodlands to take my medicine and pump and get a nap in while Travis had gone with her down to the medical center. I was so scared during the trip that we’d get stuck in traffic and she would die while I was in the midst of a parking lot on the interstate. Thankfully that didn’t happen – traffic kept moving and she lived, for a while. But the tears come now looking back.
Some days trying to live a normal life seems so pointless. If someone met us right now, our lives look like a “normal” childless couple. We can go to restaurants or the movies or the store without a care. I only need to grab my purse to head out the door, and even then I don’t necessarily need it. But we had a little girl, and her memory stays with us. That makes this so much different.
I think my sorrow alternates between missing Samantha specifically and mourning the loss of my children as a whole. We are childless, which was ok even a year and a half ago. Not having children wasn’t a burden, it was simply our life, and I was fine with it. Now I’m so aware of it, knowing that we have lost them. It is not just mourning for children who never existed, as I know is the case for some couples who cannot have children. It is sorrow for the children who were, and are no more.
I was looking over the funeral bulletin from Jonah’s burial eight years ago. One of the readings was Jeremiah 31:15, “This is what the LORD says: ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more.'”
I know this is a prophecy for the slaying of all the children under 2 shortly after Jesus was born, but in many ways it is one for me as well. Rachel, Jacob’s beloved wife, had to wait a long time to have her sons Joseph and Benjamin. Perhaps part of her struggles with infertility included stillbirth, miscarriage, and infant death. I’ve experienced all three. Each comes with its own measure of sorrow, but the worst is losing Samantha.
I cannot begrudge her leaving us, not ultimately. She was so tired at the end too. And within moments of her death, peace was clearly covering her body. She is resting. And while I do not wish for my eternal rest to come soon (so please don’t worry about me in that regard) I am looking forward to the day that it comes and I can hold my babies again. I miss them all but Samantha most. I think that’s okay to say. Come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly!