This is the last post in my weekly series called “In the Raw.” These are posts that I wrote early (2-3 years) into my grief following the deaths of our identical twin daughters in 2011. Writing helped me to process what I was feeling, and my hope is that by sharing these, newly bereaved parents will recognize that they are not alone in their thoughts and emotions.
This post was originally written in May of 2014.
Three years ago today, it was Mother’s Day and I delivered my twin daughters by emergency c-section at 28 weeks and 2 days.
Fiona had died eight weeks earlier and Brigid made her way into the world silently. She was whisked away to the NICU, and I didn’t even get to look at her. I remember I had to beg to see Fiona because she looked so bad that they didn’t want to show her to me. I am so thankful that I insisted. I had to tell them that I knew she was not going to look normal, but I still wanted to see her.
You see, the morning before my in utero surgery was the last time I felt Fiona move. I needed her to stay alive until the surgery or else we couldn’t have it. That morning after a fitful, sleepless night, I cried and rubbed the spot on my belly where I knew she was – pressed up against my right side – and prayed that she had made it through the night. And she gave me a little kick as if to let me know. Our sweet girl held on just long enough to save the life of her sister, and I wanted to hold her and thank her for that. The nurse offered to take photographs of her for us. I am so grateful that she did.
Another nurse snapped a photo of our little Brigid in the time between the removal of her C-Pap mask and her intubation so that I could see her precious face. She even made a little pink bow for her and put it in her hair for the photo. The thoughtfulness of this action was so moving to me.
I was wheeled into the NICU to see Brigid and then back to my room to recover. But that recovery did not include rest. It involved visits from clergy and bereavement counselors and people asking what we wanted to do with Fiona’s body and NICU doctors giving me updates and packets of information about funeral homes. It was so much to process – one tiny baby hanging on in the NICU and the other needing me to make decisions about how to “handle” her remains.
I was overwhelmed.
I can remember those feelings every year – trying to be strong and to navigate everything while feeling so emotionally and physically weak.
And this year is no different. Except that, despite all of my could bes and should bes from the past week, I am reminded, kindly, gently, by a Father who has never been anything but loving and trustworthy and good to me, that He is. There is no subjunctive with Him. No conditions that need to be met.
He IS. He WAS then, and He WILL BE.
I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner, as I was looping my could be and should be thoughts around in my head earlier this week and trying to find relief in the indicative, but this song that we used in Brigid’s memorial service is such a good reminder. It’s from Steven Curtis Chapman’s album, Beauty Will Rise, which he wrote after the tragic death of his own three-year-old daughter.
This is not how it should be
This is not how it could be
But this is how it is
And our God is in control.
I believe He was in control from the very beginning, that He has a plan for us that included allowing the death of our girls, and that we will be reunited with them again one day.
I can’t wait for that day.