I've felt the presence of an invisible timer since beginning my grief journey. I remember counting everyday she passed and looking in disbelief at a bereaved mother who told me I would eventually stop counting.
I recall the day that passed when Leyden had officially been dead longer than alive.
The pressure of a "one-year" clock when I was suddenly supposed to be "over it" Spoiler alert: I wasn't.
And now, as Leyden's birthday approaches, it feels like this subconscious countdown begins. As if my heart is watching a timer, dreading seeing that last drop of sand fall.
February 18th, hospital bound, nervously nominating names.
February 20th, 19 sets of eyes as Leyden was born, 6.2oz to the playing of 3 Little Birds.
March 1st, checking the rearview mirror 198 times on the ride home, staring at her little face.
March 4th our first jog.
March 17th back to work and Leyden’s lunchtime visit to ease my withdrawals.
March 22nd a playdate with friends.
March 24th the first (and the only scheduled) heart surgery.
March 27th a discharge date home.
April 4th NG tube.
April 14th NEC watch.
April 21st marathon cheers, another discharge date to go home.
Mother’s Day- a picnic outside in the garden.
May 14th heart surgery #2, the 15th her belly expansion began.
May 17th, abdominal surgery #1
May 18th her nurse manually pumped her blood to keep her alive.
May 19th abdominal surgery #2
May 21st Ecmo
June 3rd our family and friends come to say their good-byes, ECMO didn't work. She wouldn't survive without it.
Hours later, jaws dropped. She lived.
June 4th a successful transfer to dialysis.
June 5th a family meeting to make her body more accessible and get on track to go home.
June 18th more abdominal damage found. She would never eat. The worst "family meeting" of my life ensued.
June 19th, her last breaths in my arms.
Screams in the parking lot.
Checking the rearview mirror 198 times, an empty carseat.
Its like a permanent timestamp in my head. I can feel, hear and smell all the moments in between.
Last weekend I felt myself “nesting” This weekend I feel the knots, the eggshells, the lumps in my throat. I've learned that I need to make space for it all while using the word AND. This grief is real AND I can honor her life. The loss is dark AND I can spread her light. It's the worst pain I have ever felt AND I would endure it all 100 times over for the best four months I have ever been gifted.
The pain, a manifestation of the love.