It was grey the day you died.
There was this weird misty rain coming down and I remember stepping out of the car as we arrived at the hospital thinking, ‘this feels like the day she'll die.’
I knew. In that moment. I knew. Something deep within me told me that you were not going to come home with us. Not that drizzly fall day five years ago. Not ever.
The doctors had given us hope the day before, they actually told us things were looking not-as-bleak and that we should go home and rest up because you had a week full of surgeries ahead. A week full of surgeries. What the hell kind of world do we live in where babies are put through the things you were? I am so sorry, Peyton. More than you can ever know.
We took the doctors’ advice and missed out on spending the last night of your life with you. A night that an intern later wrote to tell me she spent in your room with another doctor, dressing you up in all your cute clothes and having a ‘girl’s party.’
Things were looking up—so why, then, when I stepped out into the brisk fall air to see you, did I know? Is that mother’s intuition? I feel guilty to this day over having had that thought because a good mother, the mother you deserved, would have stepped out thinking, ‘today is the day our miracle will come. Today she will be cured.’
I failed you even in that.
This year is so, so different than the others in facing your death day.
What I would like to do is crawl into my bed, pull the covers over my head, and lay in the darkness with my anger and my bitterness and my longing and my aching arms and my heavy heart and my depression and my ptsd and my never-ending sadness at the thought of what you went through and cry until my eyes are dry and my throat is sore and my body remembers.
I need to cry. To wallow. To feel, really, truly allow myself to feel how absolutely shitty this is… again.
But I can’t.
I know that with the sun of tomorrow comes the responsibilities of caring for your brother and sister and it is they who I need to focus my energies on even if selfishly I want it to be my grief.
In that way I was lucky that you were our first because I was able to go there, to really go where I needed to, to feel what I needed to, to hurt how I needed to. I used to envy the loss moms who had other living children to help them get through the day, but I know better now. I know how much more difficult and complicated grief is when you have to be responsible for more than yourself.
I’m in this odd place of having all I ever wanted with your siblings and still yearning for something that can never be. And though my days are so full right now I feel like I am getting to take less time to tend to my wounds and it shows; in the way my body always hurts, the weight I carry despite my best efforts with diet and exercise, my wrinkles, my awful sleeping patterns and ever present fatigue, and worse—the many ways I feel I am less than I could have been for your siblings.
When they tantrum or fight or do the things that two year olds testing the waters do, I wish I was better. I wish I didn’t get frustrated, or tired. I wish I was one of those supermoms that it feels to me that every other mom is, who patiently smiles through their child lashing out. Shouldn’t I be basking in the glory of motherhood every moment of every day? Isn’t that what’s expected of me as a loss and infertility mom? Aren’t we supposed to walk through life thanking every lucky star that we have been given the opportunity to do this thing that comes so easily to others?
I know firsthand to never take one single beautiful moment for granted and this is why I feel angry at myself for being tired, for being frustrated, for selfishly wanting to lay in my bed and grieve you on your death day. I am angry at myself for being five years out and still feeling so broken at the thought of you. I am angry that your siblings have been robbed of growing up with you. That we have been. That at twenty eight I had to buy a cemetery plot and I became an old woman. That this broken world had to throw in our face the horrific truth that no matter what God you pray to or how well you try to live your life, cancer doesn’t care.
I spent a lot of time wondering where God was when we needed him in the hospital and the early years of grief that followed your passing. I’ve since given up on wondering and even that is guilt inducing because if I don’t hold onto my faith how can I ever see you again in the next life?
Tomorrow marks five years since the most horrific of days. Five years since impossible decisions to live with were made. Five years since I held you knowing I would never hold you again. Five years since I watched your spirit leave your body.
I’ve worked to move forward, as I know you would want me to. I love your siblings with all my heart. I try to be what I think you would want me to be in this world but there is this raw undercurrent that is ever present reminding me that this is always going to hurt.
I’m so sorry Peyton. For what you went through. For what we couldn’t do for you. For all you were robbed of in this life. I am so, so sorry, and so sad.