Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Person's a Person, No Matter How Small

I wrote this on Memorial Day, right after attending a memorial service for baby Sara Lorraine, but waited for the intensity of my emotion to ebb like a receding tide before posting. The pain is still there, but now it's swimming along with the glee, hope, melancholy, joy, peace and all the other feelings in my ocean of emotion, and it is no longer cresting, violently smashing down on the shore of my heart. I post this on her birthday, just after we release balloons with messages of love for her.
From ainslee


It's been nearly 7 years and I thought I was over it. Not really over it, but in control of it.

I went to the service to show sister-like solidarity and support, to let a mother like me know I share her pain and her journey. But Father Time and Mother Nature had other plans for me. As I walked into the chapel and saw the tiny white casket draped in baby roses, the home-made perfectly scrapped "It's A Girl" banner hanging over it, and the wee footprints marking her minutes long life on the pearl pink program, I was taken back. Literally traveling through time. No longer merely a survivor of this pain, I whirled through the sands of time to a place I had left long ago.
From ainslee


Suddenly, it was a cold dark day in January, 2003 (truthfully, now I don't even remember if it was actually dark, or it just felt dark). I had meticulously done the girls' hair and dressed them up in their red velvet Christmas dresses made for all the girl cousins by my mom, trying to forget how happy and naive I was just weeks before as they wore those very dresses while I snapped a photo of them in each other's arms under the Christmas tree. The woman who took that picture was no longer me. She was someone with big plans: tickets bought to go home for Christmas, invitations sent for Ellie's 3rd Princess Birthday Party, visions of decorating the nursery in pink satin after the holidays. She was clueless about sorrow and grief and fear and despair. Sometimes I really envy her.
From ainslee

But it was January, and I was wishing I could be anywhere else in time. I had knelt beside my husband in the home of his childhood, holding his hand desperately as if it would ground me to sanity, while he offered a prayer for our family and teared up when he swore he heard "daddy" in the distance. I was standing outside at a cemetery burying my baby, trying to hold myself together for the two I had with me still, when all I wanted, more than even to take my next breath, was to be with the one who had left. It was a dark place for my soul, where the seed of hope was so small and so hidden from view I could barely muster the energy and courage to try to find it.

My heart has since been patched. I've wrapped the wounds with memories of better times, with perspective on God and attachment, with feeling her love and presence, and most importantly, with a greater appreciation for the circle of life and the meaning of those who touch ours, even if their footprints are smaller than my pinky, or their weight is measured in ounces.

The grandmother at the service today quoted Dr. Seuss from Horton Hears a Who:

A person's a person, no matter how small.

I couldn't agree more. And when I think of my own loss and the reality of who this tiny baby really was and is, I am humbled at the impact of her life. What person has taught me grace and perspective and gratitude for the everyday more than she? What experience has given me more grit and empathy? And whose soul has spoken the truth of how interconnected we all are more than hers?
From ainslee

So I'm missing you today, Ainslee Sarah Butterfield, and a twinkle in my heart tells me you might be feeling the same.

7 comments:

iNdiaNa said...

Mel, I had no idea you had lost a child and am honored that my daughter shares the name of your angel(although with a 'y'). Beautifully written, for which I can only ache for you, not knowing the struggles you went through to get where you are now. Hugs your direction, and up.

Nikki said...

This brought me back to those days and how hard it was to imagine your pain. I was overwhelmed with the sadness...and memories of those days reading this. You are a tender and wonderful mother to all of your beautiful children and this quote was perfect.

Beth said...

Mel, this post is so brave and thoughtful. And so I'm having my first cry of 2010... sure to be followed by many more, but I love that I'm getting to share my first one with you.

Mel said...

Thanks for your comments, I can feel the hugs, even through cyber-space :)

Stephanie said...

After reading this post I find myself weeping and aching for the niece I never met. Sending my love your way...

likeschocolate said...

So beautifully written! Thank you for sharing a part of yourself with me. I think your fantastic!

Jan said...

We think of you often at Christmas time and how honored we were to be bystanders and how no matter how I try I will never comprehend it.

Love u Mel!