The hall was full of people sitting in chairs facing the stage. The leaders sat on stage at a table looking over the crowd. They held papers in their hand, they were reading names and stories and matching families together.
A man held his paper and read the description, "There is this baby, she is amazing. You will love her more than anything in the world. She will change your life. You cannot keep her, but her love will sustain you for a lifetime. And it will be worth it."
I felt my heart jump out of my chest as I jumped out my seat to proclaim, "I'll take her! I will take her!"
And so went the story of our beginning. I was her mama, she was my girl.
That dream plays over and over like a record in my mind. I don't even know where it stems from. I don't remember dreaming it, only knowing it- as if it were any other memory in my mind. I no longer question this thought, I only love that perhaps in some other dimension this is how I was given the most beautiful girl in the world.
I chose her. She chose me. Whatever your beliefs, it does not matter. Whatever gives you peace in the most dire moments of your life is private, personal, and without need for judgement or confirmation.
To wake each year on August 9th (and the days leading before and after) are more than bittersweet, they are heartbreaking, soul-crushing. Remembering the time that I didn't know that my life would irreversibly change, the innocence that was so quickly lost, and the short time I had to parent my daughter, rips my heart out.
Celebrating the birthday of your child who has died mimics the weight of an elephant upon one's chest not allowing breath to escape.
It is not fair for you to always see the strength that remains and the good that is done in honor of Ruthie Lou. All of those things are important. All are valuable. All are true. But it doesn't make it ok, it doesn't mean I am ok. There is also the very real human mama heart that breaks to live without my baby. All the things that I do are the only way I can parent my child-my child who is no longer living. My baby who died.
Every birthday that passes, I celebrate my daughter. I honor her. I remember her. But, I remember her every single day. Just as you think of your babies in the moments that you wake, I also think of mine. Just as you feel excitement and reminisce about the day your child was born and marvel at their growth, I equally cry in pain that I don't have those joyful moments. I miss all the beautiful moments of watching your child grow because she is no longer here.
I would choose her again. I would choose her over and over again. The pain does not negate her life, but it is not easy. It is the single most difficult thing that I endure again and again as we surpass milestones, birthdays and the anniversary of her death. It is a daily choice to heal as I live every day without my girl.
I remember my daughter every morning when I wake. I think of her every night as I close my eyes. I hope to dream of her in my sleep. But that's all I get, the thoughts, the memories, the hopes for a glimpse of her beauty.
So today on what would have been her 6th birthday, I will proceed as I always do. I will wake without Ruthie Lou. I remember the beautiful light that she brought to our life. I mother her brothers with all that I have. I will make meals, clean house, entertain small boys and tonight I will kiss two babies instead of three. And when my day is done and I finally get to close my eyes, I hope to have even a glimpse of the baby that I forever long for.
Every day is a day that I miss her.
Every day is today, the day of her birth.
The house felt strangely inhabited tonight. Reid wanted to "watch Rufie Roo" before bed. We probably have 2,000 photos of her, many plastered around the house, on our phones and most anywhere that we are. Reid knows her pictures, her name and that she is his sister. We speak of her, we include her in all that we do and how we live. Tonight when he asked to watch her, my heart leapt with fear and excitement. I have not watched her videos (from the video camera) for near three and a half years and before that only once, days after coming home without her. My sister and I sat on the couch in the living room and watched Ruthie Lou and cried, it was hard and it was sacred. It was so necessary. But, I haven't had the courage to watch them since.
I often picture Ruthie Lou in our daily life and that thought is full of so many emotions: sadness, emptiness, love, pride and so much loss. I feel my own loss but I also feel it for Chris and even for Reid, for the sister he'll never know. I worry about him loving her at all, and then I worry that he'll love her so much that it will cause him his own grief. But mostly, I feel so sad that he doesn't get that playmate that other kids get in a sibling. He has a sister but he'll never actually get that sister.
So tonight we snuggled on the couch, we had milk and loved watching Ruthie Lou. Reid giggled and squealed to see his mama and dad on screen and he asked questions about what he saw. We stayed up past his bedtime and we laughed and I cried and my heart was full, having both my babies in one room for almost a minute. It was a sacred moment. I kissed Reid all over his face and he even let me do it without saying, "eww". His eyes were near closed before his head hit the pillow and although I still feel like crying, I think I'll revel in the feeling of love instead.
Not a day goes by- and not many moments without missing my sweet girl. I'll miss her always.
I am mama of three beautiful babes; two sons whom I have the privilege of raising and my daughter who lived for 33 sacred days.