My second child and our first daughter, Camille, died and was born on June, 30 2011 when I was full term at 38 weeks pregnant. I gave birth to my rainbow baby, a second daughter, on August 31, 2012. This is me trying to figure out how to be a mother to my living son and daughter and function in society after our tragic loss.
I woke up this morning at 2:30. I couldn't fall back to sleep. All I could do was think about Camille. I wasn't paying attention to the date but I think my body knew. Today it has been 6 months since Camille died. This fact is ingrained in my psyche. Whether I am consciously aware or not....my body remembers, my heart remembers. My mind may try to trick me, it may try and distract me, but my soul shivers with the remembrance of her soft skin and sweet smell. I ache for my daughter. The whole world continues to move on but it feels like I am in the twilight zone. I am standing in the middle, still and quiet. Everything around me goes in fast motion, whizzing by in fast forward to the point where I can't even really make out what is happening. And so time goes by, ticking by, as I pine and miss.
This morning we went for a walk, my son and I and collected some leaves, found a flower and picked another Camellia which we arranged on the table in our meditation room. I find myself gawking at my bad odds and wondering how in the world this happened. I miss my daughter. I wonder what she would look like and how my son and daughter would interact. I wish I could hug and kiss her. I feel at a loss for how to describe my hearts most wanted. It feels like I was in the hospital yesterday and at the same time, 6 months feels like an eternity without her.
It has been a busy week. I worked 11 hour days the past 4 days straight. The word exhausted pretty much covers it. The days have been good. I like what I do. Focusing on helping other people recover is something I am good at. I am distracted and can smile and laugh, hug and be helpful. At the end of each of these days I got in my car and started to cry. I have no time at work to think about myself, my grief, Camille. I get home and hug and kiss the small boy and the big man and go up and take a shower...where I cry.
Last night was my last day of work this week. My husband has been home with Kai. The other day they went and took flowers to Daryl's mother's grave. Kai was talking about how papa and uncle Brian put grandma in a box and buried her because she died. We were talking about burying people. My almost 3 year old asks "why" a lot. Dealing with dead bodies in our society consist of two options bury or cremate. Last night talking about grandma being buried led to Camille being in a box on our shelf but not buried. "Why?" I told him we didn't want to bury Camille in the ground so she was put in a special fire where her body was burned but it didn't hurt because she was dead. Her body turned into ashes and they put them in a little box. Kai said he was worried about that. He didn't want the box in our house. So I asked him if he wanted to see the box so he wouldn't be worried. We went into the library, the little white box is on the shelf. I hadn't noticed that my husband put these little tiny plastic Christmas flowers around the base of the box. I hadn't noticed. It makes me sad. He must think of her. I know that sounds like an obvious statement, but he doesn't talk to me about Camille. He is so stoic about it. It hurts me, but it is what it is. I took down the little white box and I let Kai carry it. He wanted me to open the box. It has been almost 6 months since Camille died. I haven't done this yet. I have never opened the box. I did. I was crying.
There is a little bag inside the box
A brass circle with a number imprinted on it is around the closure of the bag.
The ashes are light gray.
There are pieces of white bone in them.
These ashes...they are of my daughter.
These light grey ashes with bone fragments...they are the body of Camille.
I wish I didn't know a full term baby's ashes only take up about 1 measuring cups worth of space.
The sadness I feel could fill a universe.
Kai asked:"is her heart in there?"
Me:"Yes, but it was only her body, she wasn't alive anymore, she couldn't walk or talk, she wasn't alive."
Me: "I don't know why she died. Her heart just stopped beating."
Kai: "Where did she go?"
Me: "Where do you think she went?"
Kai: "Maybe she is in the sun or the trees or at the beach."
Me: "That seems like a good place for her energy to be. She will always live in our hearts near our peaceful place."
Looking at my child's ashes wasn't part of my life plan. This Wasn't Part Of My Agenda For Life. How is it that I find myself sitting on the floor with my precious first born son talking about his dead sister? We went back up stairs, it is 9:45pm, way past any idea of bed time. My husband was in the living room. He sat and watched the interaction and answered any questions directed at him in one word statements...not wanting to participate in this. We are sitting on the bed, I am crying, no books tonight baby... I just can't read a book.
Kai: "Mama, don't be sad, lets talk about something happier, she was just dead, she couldn't feel it."
Me: "I will always be sad about Camille because I love her and I miss her and she is my baby."
Kai: "I want to see a picture of her"
I told him to go down and ask his father to show him pictures, trying to get him to become more involved. Kai leaves, then returns with a pouty look on his face and he explains that papa said no. So I take him and get Camille's memory box down and sit on the living room floor and open the box. I look at my husband and say sternly: "If Kai requests to talk about his sister or see pictures of his sister, no matter what time it is, we do it."
I have shown him pictures before but it has been a while. We take out the crocheted little blanket, the baby hat and gown, the little pink card with her name and birth stats. The cards with her hand and foot prints and 4 pictures.
Kai comments as he looks at the photos: "tiny little feet", "what a cute little baby", "she's like me when I was a baby"
We put everything back in the box. Back upstairs, I ask if he feels better and he says he does.
As he closes his eyes, I place my ear on his chest to hear his heart beating.
He falls asleep... I will too, but my heart is broken.
The Christmas cards are coming in...maybe 3 per day. I have gotten pictures of families, with statements of Merry... and Happy...., but not one note about Camille or even "We are thinking of you" or "it must be hard for you right now" or "thinking of Camille", instead I get pictures of babies just born (what makes these people think I want to see their children?) One Christmas card not only was Merry... with no mention of Camille, it was also a pregnancy announcement. To me these people are either clueless or just assholes.
I know that people not sending a card may be hurtful as well, but how hard is it to write a note? I understand that people don't know what to say but.... I get that, but it doesn't make it any easier. Celebrating the holidays is tricky when you have another little person (my son) to participate with. We still put up a tree and listen to music, decorate and buy presents...but this is done without the merriment that should be going on in our home. Having another child does not give you the option to just check out.
Last weekend we went to Disneyland. We told my son if he pooped in the toilet we would take him. I believe in following through with my promises. He doesn't really know about Disney movies yet at almost 3 years old his indoctrination is limited...but he knows about Winnie the pooh and mickey mouse. I haven't been since I was 9, I don't have a real sentimental attachment to it, but what an amazing place it is. The decorations were beautiful and over the top. We could only ride really innocent rides because Kai scared easily. We smiled a lot and enjoyed our family time. It was a nice vacation.
The thing is I choose happiness every day. I laugh and I enjoy. I smile and I love. I try and conjure positivity because there is so much anger and sadness swelling in my soul along with the missing and heart break....but I am so glad I am alive and my family is alive...I just wish Camille was too. I choose happiness but it doesn't mean I am not sad, devastated. I cry, today was a bad day after a week of pretty good or so-so. I feel like I am on the edge of a precipice, looking down into a dark abyss constantly teetering on the edge of despair. I can't fall, I refuse to fall. I already know what it feels to go crazy for hours sometimes days on end. I have to be present and continue to live. My mother did this for us when my brother died. She did a damn good job. I remember laughter and joy with her and now I better understand her sadness and her tears. I don't judge my mother the way I used to, because now I understand. I wonder if she ever said to me or my brothers, "I am sad because I miss your brother, I miss Skipper." Like I say to Kai when he asks me why I am sad, I say "because I miss Camille and wish she was here with us. "
I have been away from the computer, my computer is broken, my husbands laptop (what I am typing on) is available at night. I kept thinking the break from the Internet would be good, maybe I wouldn't dwell so much. but....when my daughter is dead...there is no control, I dwell, how do I not. She is my breath and my heart and I miss her with all I am. I came back and started reading some blogs last night and I felt immediately comforted and simultaneously sad. I cry for others because there are so few I connect with who truly understand the anguish that we feel as baby loss parents. Thank you to all of those who sent me emails and sent me love. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.