The Hungry Earth – A Poem by David

The Hungry Earth - A Poem by David

We spent yesterday evening at a new park near the airport, where the sky is more open than I’ve seen since we left Texas. It inspired both David and I to write. Today, I share David’s eloquent poetry. Tomorrow, I will share mine.

The Hungry Earth

My watery eyes gaze
transfixed upon the ocean of turquoise,
my skull resting on the cold stone,
arms folded across my chest.

The alabaster mists adrift, miles above,
burnished in azure fire rolled into silken form,
expelling the grey gloom from their domain.

Drips of dew glitter off the grass around me,
falling to feed the hungry earth
and thirsty tendrils the illusion of their magic.

The summer air caressing my arms
as if to assure me that my sorrow is understood
by the specter of this forgotten path.

And yet, no voice speaks wisdom to me from that heaven.
No choir stands ready to defend His honor
from the tears of doubt that blend in the rain.

She lives in my memories,
pained as they are to hold.
And I will still wish upon the coming stars
that tonight, my child rests with God.

The Hungry Earth - A Poem by David

In His Words – A Eulogy for Clara Edith Webb

In His Words - A Eulogy for Clara Edith Webb

My husband David wrote this beautiful eulogy and read it at Clara’s memorial service. He asked me to share it for Clara’s birthday.

The saddest and proudest moments of my life are one and the same. I became a father for the first time on a rainy afternoon in July. All the hope and joy of this day became crushed by five words – “we can’t find her heartbeat” – and our lives were forever changed.

Clara Edith Webb was loved and adored from her first moments in this world. I still have the positive pregnancy test that Heather took in Texas. The sheer wash of emotions that a simple chemical test strip can cause is awe inspiring. We didn’t know yet if she would be a boy or a girl, or if she would even stay with us. But she did. She stayed and she was welcomed.

A day has yet to pass where the sight of a baby in a stroller or car seat fails to test my eyes’ floodgates, and that time may never come. Though she never held my finger in her tiny hand, we did know each other well.

If this sounds forced, it is only because words to express the death of a baby are nearly impossible to find. The loss is not mine alone. The family I love so dearly, the friends so true, the world itself, has lost a great soul, and is lesser for it.

If there is a God, I will hold her again some day. Until that day, I commit her to the care of those loved ones who have gone before her, and to those who will one day rest here beside her.

Sweetest of dreams, baby girl.

In His Words - A Eulogy for Clara Edith Webb

My little sister wrote a beautiful blog post for Clara’s birthday that I would love for you to read, if you have time.

A Memory Box of Treasures

A Memory Box of Treasures

I’ve done a lot of thinking and remembering in these last few days leading up to Clara’s first birthday. Earlier this week, I went through the memory box that we received from the hospital, taking time to appreciate these treasures that help us capture our short time with Clara.

We have a stack of cards from dear friends. We have a lock of Clara’s soft dark hair. We have her hand prints and footprints, both in ink and in ceramic. I am immeasurably grateful for each piece of treasured memorabilia. They are all we have left, and they are irreplaceable.

At the bottom of the memory box, I found the poem that my sister-in-law Mishelle read at Clara’s memorial service. It is lovely and brings tears to my eyes.

Of course, nearly everything does that these days.

It is cathartic to remember, to mentally experience all of those sensations and emotions again. We have many photographs that I haven’t looked at since last July. It is heartbreaking to look at them now. I had already forgotten so many details of my poor sweet baby’s beautiful face and body.

It is sad to remember, but it is good to remember.

Memory Box Poem - These Are My Footprints #grief

One Year Ago Today

"Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell." - Edna St. Vincent Millay

I’ve been avoiding writing what’s really on my heart this week… but it’s about time to sit down and pour those emotions out. In one week, it will be our baby Clara’s first birthday. One year since she was born. One year since she died. Can it really have been that long?

One year ago today, I was as happy as I’d ever been. I was 41 weeks and 3 days pregnant, and I was so proud of myself for being that pregnant. David and I drove out to Campbell’s Covered Bridge, a tourist landmark near my grandparents’ property. We were alone, sans the older girls, just the two of us and our active baby girl, still in utero. We waded in the stream and splashed water at each other. David took pictures of my pregnant belly. It was blissful. After a while, we sat and talked, trying to come to a decision about whether we wanted to go on into the hospital for an induction or c-section, or if we wanted to continue to wait it out.

It was a long conversation, because we both had good reasons to go either way. Finally, we decided that we would wait until the weekend, and if I wasn’t in labor by Friday when David got home from work, we’d go to the hospital. It felt like the right decision. As we walked back up the long hill to the parking lot holding hands, I felt a sharp kick to my rib cage, followed by the low tightening of a contraction. I told David that we ought to get back home, in case this was the beginning of labor.

We were happy. We were excited. We couldn’t wait to meet our baby girl. I couldn’t wait to see my husband holding his own biological child, to see my daughters holding their tiny baby sister.

One Year Ago Today... Us

I haven’t felt that happy in the year since. Neither has David. I feel numb now, as the anniversary dates come spinning toward us, faster and faster. Then the numbness ebbs a little, just enough to let the pain and sadness and loss and absolute grief filter in, and I am stopped in my tracks. I breathe deep and collect myself so that I can continue on with my day. It happens again, and again, and again… more frequently as July 1st comes closer.

One year. 

I wouldn’t have thought that June 14, my due date, would be a trigger date, since she was born 17 days later… but it was. I wouldn’t have thought that June 24, one week before her birthday, would be a trigger date, but it is.

One year ago today, she was alive and I could have made decisions that would have saved her life, if only I’d known that her life needed to be saved.

I was more pregnant than I ever had been, more pregnant than I ever dared to imagine. I wish that had been enough for me, that I would have decided to go into the hospital. The irony of it all… I was reluctant to go in because I was so sure they wouldn’t let me attempt a vaginal birth after two previous cesareans, but when I did finally get to the hospital, when it was already too late, the doctor on call said it would have been fine for me to attempt VBA2C.

If I had known that, it could have {would have} changed everything.

I keep thinking, why didn’t I go in on my due date, why was I so certain that I should wait, that she would come on her own, why was I so arrogant to think that I could give birth naturally after two c-sections just because other people do? Shouldn’t I have known that something was wrong?

I torment myself. I’ve been doing it for one year. I move past the guilt and regret for a while, and then it hits me again.

I miss my baby girl so much that I can barely breathe tonight. I long to nuzzle her hair with my chin. I can’t stop imagining her learning to walk, smearing bananas on my pants leg, nursing to sleep with her chubby fingers around my fingers. I will never know those things.

I will never see her become a toddler. Clara will remain our baby forever, never to grow up, and it breaks my heart into a thousand pieces, every single day.

"Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell." - Edna St. Vincent Millay
Source: Pinterest

Guilt Is A Wasted Emotion

Recently, a friend said to me that guilt is a wasted emotion.

I’ve spent the better part of a year tormenting myself with guilt over Clara’s death. I’ve had countless people tell me that I shouldn’t feel guilty, that I did nothing wrong, that I couldn’t have changed anything, that I couldn’t have known what would happen.

Some of that I agree with, and some of it I don’t. None of these things have struck me with the force of what my friend said to me, though.

Am I guilty of misjudgment, too much pride and hubris, trying to “play God”, and ignoring medical advice to my own detriment?

Yes, surely I am guilty of some of that, if not all of that.

Does it matter? Does it bring my baby back to my empty arms?

No. No, it does not.

I have been punishing myself for long enough, I think. Guilt is a wasted emotion, and my emotions are too valuable to waste any longer.

Parents who have experienced the loss of a pregnancy, an infant, or a child, are familiar with being told to “get over it”. I’m here to tell you that we will not, and should not, get over the loss of our babies. They are just as special to us as our (or your) living children are. They will never stop being our children, and one does not simply get over a loss like that.

I am going to get over my guilt, though. It is time. I have been well and mightily judged for my part in Clara’s death, even if only by myself.

I am ready to stop wasting my emotions. I am ready to spend my energy loving all of my children, loving my husband, honoring Clara’s memory, and cultivating magic and happiness in our home again.

Guilt is a wasted emotion... | The Destiny Manifest

Mother’s Day 2013

I have been a mother for almost a dozen years, and this is the first Mother’s Day that doesn’t feel completely happy.

I am grateful, of course, so grateful for my daughters, Lakin and Addah. They make me smile. They make me cry. They make me angry, and they make me laugh like a crazy person. They are wonderful spitfires, and they make me a better person than I ever could have been, every day of my life.

I would be nothing without them, and I know this completely.

They are beautiful, and I love them so very much.

I have been showered with a breakfast in bed, handmade cards, and a sweet little potted flower. They are trying very hard to be good to each other, and I am grateful for their deliberate kindness.

I would change only one thing about this Sunday, that our baby girl could be here today. I have no idea what she would look like now, but I imagine she would be a lovely amalgam of her big sisters. She might have Addah’s elfin chin, Lakin’s big bright eyes, and David’s handsome nose. She could have slept late with me today, waking up to nurse while I enjoyed my breakfast of eggs, bacon, and buttered toast. Maybe I would have had to pry her sister’s handmade card from her pudgy fingers, so she wouldn’t teethe on it.

I will never know. She will never be here in my arms on a Mother’s Day, and this will never fail to make me sad. Her sisters are here though, always ready to hug me, kiss my face and tell me they love me, and this will never fail to make me happy.

I have been a mother for almost a dozen years, and it is the best thing I have ever done.

Mother's Day Collage

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers – those with their arms full of their children’s hugs, and those with their hearts full of children they cannot hug, and those, like myself, whose hearts and arms feel both full and empty. You are all in my heart today.