Lilypie Angel and Memorial tickers

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Gift

The day she was born. Birth day. Born day. Water breaking, breathing hard, clenching fists day. Smiles in between big eyes pooled with water and squeezing day. One tiny heart beat drops to half of what it should be. People in white swarm. The doctor and the anesthesiologist and the crowd in scrubs do not leave. I do not know this isn’t normal. More breathing, fiery tightening, opening of the way. One tiny heart beat drops to half of the half of what it should be. Push! Push! They urge. The monitor loses the tiny heart beat. The doctor says it is time for cutting and sucking. I work with special needs children, and I am afraid of words like “forceps” and “vacuum” and heart beats that are half of half of what they should be. But I say ok. Anything! I will do anything! Anything to help her live. So there is cutting and blood and a tug-of-war with death. Death before birth. We pull against it! I once read that deciding to become a mom is deciding to have your heart walk around outside your chest for the rest of your life. In a moment it is done, and my heart leaves me. It is pushed and pulled and thrust out of my body and abandons my chest forever. Beautiful screams fill the room and the water pooling in the eyes spills over and out in happy waterfalls. Sticky pink skin and dirty blond hair wrap around my heart like a gift. There it is. My heart’s new amazing package swaddled in a crisp hospital blanket and peering up at me through curious little slits of eyes.

We celebrate this day of birth every 365 days. We count the number of years on this earth and rejoice that we are here.  What to do with the birth after the death?  How do we celebrate when the days on earth are over? Where is my heart now? It left me on May 11, 2006 and was born into a tiny package with a name that means “who is like Yahweh?” It must have died then, on October 8th, 2010 when she went to be with Yahweh. Can a heart be reborn? A mother must have more than one heart because as surely as it left me on that balmy day in May, it stepped outside my chest again twice this February. But my first heart is still lost. Maybe it is in that box with the weight of dry dirt pressing down. I don’t know how to resurrect it. I don’t know what to celebrate. The birth? The number of her years here that no longer grows? Like a fossilized plant the length of her life is frozen, preserved only in the amber memories of those who love her. Her friends are taller and ganglier, but she will never change.

Anything! I would still do anything. Anything to help her live. Even trade my heart for four years four months and 28 days of her soft skin and sweet laughter wrapping around it. Yes, even in the loss I celebrate The Gift.

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