My baby daughter Olivia died. Stillborn on the day she was to be born. For years, I walked around as though carrying a heavily weighted sandwich board over my shoulders advertising “I’m the mother whose perfect baby just died” on the front of it and “I’m the mother whose perfect baby just died” on the back of it …a silent, endless cry as Grief’s mantle followed me wherever I was headed and whenever I looked back. For years, this is how I defined myself. but not any more...
I am now able to look back to the hot, hot summer in the South of France in 2003 when it was 110 degrees every. single. day. I understand my body struggled to sustain the pregnancy. I don’t hate God and I don’t blame the doctors. If anything, I blame myself for not knowing my baby was in trouble. Any parent whose child has died will fill a lifetime with futile wishes for something – the one thing – they could have done to save their child’s life.
Grief has many layers and anger is one ofthem. I learned to let go of my anger. And as I let it go, every new breath opened me up and allowed forgiveness in. I am forever straightening out and up from the posture of grief. My throat is relaxing, my words are coming out. My shoulders are no longer rounded in front of me, surrounding my heart, covering it. My lungs are no longer compressed. I can breathe again and so I feed every inch of my body and soul – and all the cracks in between – long starved of joy and light and laughter.
I watch my son grow and I do not fear for his life every minute of mine. I am no longer closer to the dead, slowly dying for my daughter. I am alive and I am living for my son. and for me. It has taken a long time for me to get here -to a place of strength - but I have respected Grief as Life’s hardest taskmaster and followed its unpredictable, painful course. I did not avoid it or sugarcoat it. I allowed it to poison me and make me pure.
I have been through Grief’s cycle and emerged from the depths of despair. Chewed up and spat out, I finally found ‘happiness’ again and for me, it was like none that I had ever known before because I had to work so, so very hard to find it… and I treasure it and I keep it safe. I am blessed and I am thankful. I know now what I did not know before – my limits, my boundaries, and what things pull me off-center. I am grounded and I am alive again. Grief has deepened me and is one of the greatest teachers of all. I believe that through Grief what is lost in Death will be returned to us in higher ways. This is Olivia’s Gift. and I carry it with me wherever I go, like a compass.