Today would have been Elizabeth's 4th birthday. Four. That blows my mind. Four years is a very long time. This year her birthday seems to have come on so much softer than last year and I was so touched when it was Jerry who said, "Tomorrow is Elizabeth's birthday."
We went to coffee, to the book store and to the furniture store to look at beds for the boys this afternoon and when Jerry got lost (inevitably) we got to chat about how much we loved her, what life would have been like if she had lived. Molly of course, born abbot 12 months later would not be alive. I can't imagine life without my sweet stuborn Molly. "What if she had brown hair and eyes like Lucy and we never had a blonde hair blue eyed daughter?" Jerry asked me. Huh. What if.
This is the first year it didn't hurt so much, the first year I didn't cry when the day arrived. It's the first year I didn't fight against all the memories of that fateful day when she was born without breath. This year I remembered something from a few days after she had died. I was driving home from the funeral home where my sister had met me to make arrangements. It had been such a very strange experience. The assistant funeral director kept making jokes and being all chipper. I understand nervous laughter but he thought he was an up and coming comedian or something. But it was while I was driving home that a woman called who I saw only occasionally, she didn't live anywhere near me and she's quite a bit older than me. She casually asked me how I was feeling (knowing I was pregnant) and I realized I'd have to tell her the baby had died. I told her I had the baby and she had been stillborn. This woman said, "Oh, that's too bad. I've had a few miscarriages and it never gets easier." I was instantly offended. It stung. This to me, as I've said before was no miscarriage where the baby was only a small bit of nothing. She was more than a bud of human life. She was a baby, my baby, my daughter. She should have lived. I had to go through all of the motions of having a baby. Epidural, the pushing, the contractions.
The morning after I had her and I was still in the hospital the house keeping woman came in to clean my floor. She was overly friendly and asked what I had had. I wanted to ignore her. I didn't know how to answer. I said, "I had a girl." and the woman smiled, "That's wonderful. Is she in the nursery?" And not knowing much what to say I flatly said, "She died.". I would rate that as one of the most comically horrible conversations I've ever had. I felt sorry for the woman because she was just trying to be kind, but what else could I have said? At that point I didn't even know what I was telling myself. It was so surreal. Why can't things just always be perfect? Why do children have to die, why do people have to get sick, get in car accidents. In one moment your whole life has changed forever. Why?
I wasn't sure that the raw pain of loss would ever go away. The unfairness that feels like a slap on your face... I never thought it's sting would dull. I will always miss her. I will miss who she could have been and I will remember with bitterness the dreams I lost with her, but this year I can remember how much love I felt while she was still in my womb and the bitterness is softer. I guess it's true. It does get better with time.
Happy Birthday Elizabeth Grace, we all miss you very much.