“Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!” – Isaiah 49:15
It was one thirty in the afternoon on the most dreaded day of my life. I was half an hour away from the start of my youngest daughters funeral, and only minutes away from the moment that I had been trying to avoid all week. People were beginning to trickle in the doors of the church and I realized the time had come for the funeral director to close the casket. Close the casket! That meant that I would never ever look at that sweet, chubby, and ever so loved face on this earth again. I immediately began to tremble, my knees got weak, and I literally felt like I was going to vomit. I had thought about this moment since the morning of her death but never imagined it would come so fast.
With my hand still grasped tightly on to Audreys, I began to panic. How in the world was I physically going to be able to let go? How was I going to be able to turn around and walk away, knowing that the next time I walked back into that room she would be enclosed in a tiny box. A box that would then, in just a brief amount of time be carried away for me to never see again. My family gathered around me and tried to tell me gently that the time had come. That it was time to say goodbye. I think in that moment was the angriest I had ever been at God. This wasn’t fair. I physically wanted to pick up her tiny twelve pound body and run away. Where was I going to go? I hadn’t got that far, but I do know that I had never been so desperate for someone to do something in my entire life.
Realizing that no amount of pleading with God or anyone for that matter was going to change the horrific chain of events that was about to proceed. I slowly bent down towards Audrey. I placed my lips on to her cheeks and gave her a kiss. I kissed her forehead, then her nose…..trying to prolong my final moment for as long as I could. As I gently brushed my nose with hers I noticed I had wet her face with my tears. As I began to dry her off, I took hold of her hand one last time and began to sing the song I had read to all my girls many times.
I began singing, ” I love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living, My baby you’ll be.” by Robert Munch. When my sister and husband heard what I was doing they joined me. I will never forget the image of the three of us, arms linked, standing around the casket singing the last song we would ever sing to my baby girl. In that moment we didn’t notice people coming into the church, we didn’t care how we sounded or how silly we may have looked. It truly was one of the most beautiful and final moments I would experience with my precious daughter.
Walking out of the room that day was excruciatingly painful. It was horrible, and indescribable. But that day was also filled with people who loved me… people who loved my family. We never had to be alone for one second, and there was always someone to lend an ear or a hug when needed. What I wasn’t prepared for was the now. Was the months ahead that were coming. The months when her death began to fade in the background. The days when her death was “old news.” The moments when I would choose not to mention her for the fear of people being annoyed that I wasn’t “over it” yet. The moment when I myself, would question my own grief as if I was following a timeline incorrectly.
I have spent the last couple weeks feeling depressed. I don’t think I had ever really felt what being depressed truly was like until now. I have had to fight myself out of bed so that I literally do not sleep the day away. I’ve had to remind myself that there are two little ones to take care of as I struggle to get off of the couch. My once super clean house has turned into a messy maze as I can bring myself to do nothing but stare at the walls. I realized that all this began to get worse as I stopped writing, as I stopped focusing on Gods promises, and as I have forced myself to stay silent in my grief as I have cared too much about what others may feel.
See three months ago… on a Sunday morning like today, Audrey left our family but she didn’t leave our lives. I have received emails stating that I should be starting too feel better by now, but truth is…I’m not. My whole life has been shaken, and shattered in a matter of moments and it is going to take more than that or ninety days for that matter to fix it. I still have a whole lot of holidays and special dates to get through. I still have to deal with everyday life noticing things that remind me of her and the fact the she is not here. Every moment is still a battle to be won and the silence only makes the days increasingly harder.
With God by my side I am not only going to continue to pray for strength, but I am also going to pray for the continued understanding of others. That I can continue to talk when I need to and express my fears without looking into glazed over eyes. That I can find the strength to keep moving forward in my faith when I feel like I have hit a brick wall.
When I sang those final words….. the last ones I would ever say to her… I meant them. Her death does not change her place in our family or the love that we have for her. That as the years continue to pass by we will forever notice the missing little girl in our church Christmas concert, the absent pair of muddy rubber boots by our porch door, and the one less graduation cap we will never get to see. That as long as I am on this earth she will be loved and remembered always. That truly ” As long as I’m living, MY baby she’ll be.”