You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
The Paramedics began placing the stretcher, where my precious Audrey was lying ever so still, into the back of the Ambulance. I started to quickly get in with her, when the paramedic looked at my husband and said, “It’s best if she doesn’t come.” My heart dropped, what did he mean it was best, I was her mommy. In desperation I cried out, ” Do you have anything?” In which he replied, ” We have never been able to get a heartbeat.” As I stood there completely paralyzed, trying to take in what that could mean, my husband grabbed my hand and guided me in to the truck.
The truck was quiet. Not I nor my husband could say a word. We didn’t need to… between the frantic glances back and forth, we both knew we were terrified. As I watched the Ambulance in front of us, lights on and sirens wailing I couldn’t help but imagine what was happening with my little girl. I had always been the car pulled over to let one pass. I had never been the one following it while it carried my most precious cargo.
The quietness also gave me time to think, to process my thoughts. I began to think about all the possibilities of what could have happened. I started to think about if any of this could be my fault. How I was the one that had been sleeping with her. How she could have smothered on me while nursing or sleeping. What if I could be responsible for taking the life of someone I loved the most in this world. The guilt had set in…and I was completely petrified.
We arrived the same time as the Ambulance. As we watched them run in with her, I remember the last thing I saw was her tiny feet as she was wheeled into the room. I collapsed on the floor in outright horror. There was just no possible way that this was real life. That this was my life.
A nurse picked me up off the floor, and led us to a private room. While waiting for news, I watched as it began to fill up with close family and friends. I looked around at everyone in there and thought that I was going to be responsible, not only for my heart break, but for theirs. I wondered if they too, where thinking this could be my fault. I remember yelling at my self in my head, telling me how dare I grieve when this was all my fault. I remember asking myself over and over, how I could have possible done something like this.It killed me inside.
When the doctor came in to check on us late that morning, one of the first things I asked was if I could have done this. He quickly assured me that this just wasn’t the case and that the autopsy findings would be able to offer me reassurance of that. His answer comforted me for only a few short minutes, until once again the guilt came back.
The guilt over the next twenty four hours while waiting for the report, was excruciating. Although my husband and family continued to assure me that I had done nothing, and was not responsible..I needed the proof. When the medical examiner did call, complete fear set in. This was it…we were going to find out what had caused this.
After talking on the phone for what felt like an eternity, my husband told me that the medical examiner had said there was no cause of death found. He told me that she hadn’t smothered, that I had done nothing. That she had died from SIDS. I fell to the floor. As I sat there cross legged and sobbing, I felt relief began to wash over me. I could now let the guilt go. I had the proof. I had what I needed…….or so I thought.
Again, the relief only lasted for a short time before the answers I had received were once again, not good enough. No known cause of death still did not give me a reason. Something had to be responsible for this. I continued battle with the same guilt through out the days ahead.
The morning of the funeral, the pastors stopped by to see how we were doing. Their daughter had came down with them, and as I stood there explaining how I had been feeling….she changed my life forever. His daughter, who I barley knew, took me aside and told me that she felt the need to tell me in that moment, that this wasn’t my fault.
As goosebumps covered my body, and tears filled my eyes, I realized that God was there. That I was seeing him. Through her, he was letting me know that I did not cause this, and that I could breath again. I will never forget the feeling that Thursday morning. On the most devastating day of my life, in the chaos of the people around me, for a few short moments I felt peace for the first time.
Guilt has been the hardest part of the grieving process for me. It keeps you from moving forward. It isolates you from family and friends because you fear they too are secretly blaming you. It prohibits you from allowing yourself to begin to heal, as it tries to stop you from feeling the emotions you need to feel. The guilt from something as big, as heavy, as thinking you could be responsible for the death of your child, can completely break you.
Since that day, I have been able to finally let go of most of the guilt. I still have my days where the thoughts enter my mind, but I have quickly learned to bring myself back to the day where God told me it wasn’t my fault. See, I thought I needed the doctors opinions, the medical reports to begin to start healing. What I’ve learned is that, what I really needed…..what was really going to provide me with the relief to go on, was God…….on that quiet Thursday morning, and everyday since.