On Tuesday, I went to a woman's house to buy a stroller for a friend (it was a surprise for her, that's why I'm only now writing about this). This woman was wonderful, and we shared a bit about ourselves. When she saw that I could navigate around a Peg Perego stroller like nobody's business, she asked me, naturally, "Wow! Do you have kids?"
How do you reply to this question when your only child, whom you barely had the chance to hold, is no longer with you?
In my case, it went something like this: "Nn--. Ye--. Well, sort of."
And then I felt guilty. For saying "sort of."
I shared with her my story of how our first baby girl, Genna, came early and her lungs weren't developed enough for her to survive outside the womb. How we had a very short hour and forty-three minutes with her.
I did not share with her, though, how guilty I feel. Because I believe that over the past four months, I have tried to forget.
I don't think this was intentional, necessarily. I think it was more a subconscious reaction to grief. I'm going to admit something: There have been many times over the past several months in which I have not thought about my daughter for several days at a time. Not consciously, at least.
It is difficult to go through something so heart-wrenching and be all put-back-together quickly. I think if that happens, something is wrong. But I think that I have had problems dealing with the how of the grieving process. Let me explain why.
I believe that my daughter is in heaven with Jesus right now. I believe she was the moment after she breathed her last. Which means that "she" (or rather, her soul) was no longer part of her body, which I was holding when she died. I believe that the tiny body that we buried in May is not my daughter. It is merely a shell, the housing for her soul, if you will.
Because of my faith, I logically know that she is in better hands, in the best place, really, that she could ever be. And logically, I know - have seen proof - that so much good has come about in the wake of her death. And for this I am so grateful. And I know that I will see her again...someday.
But the thing I'm having trouble with is the sadness. The mourning of the loss of a part of my husband and me that we will never get back in this life. The loss of the opportunity to raise my daughter. And I allow myself to feel that sadness sometimes, but then I feel guilty for feeling sad, because I feel like I am being selfish. And so I have had problems balancing how to grieve properly. I will have times where I can talk about Genna happily. And then I occasionally have moments, typically when I am by myself, where I just break down, I miss her so much. And I can't for the life of me find a balance.
But I think that maybe just allowing myself to feel whatever feelings come is the first step. And my biggest comfort has come in knowing that my God has experienced the same feelings before. When Jesus died on the cross, He and God were separated for a time. God had to look away because Jesus took the sins of the world upon Himself. And when He died, God felt that loss. He grieved for a time, because He didn't have His Son with Him. He knows what I'm going through.
And the best part is that there was a happy ending to that story: Jesus is alive, and the separation was not permanent. God has His Son back, forever.
And one day, I will have my daughter back too. All I can do for now is hold God's hand.