Don’t Speak

People often ask me how I’m doing. Usually up until that point I’m fine. Or at least holding it together. Then I hear those words, “How are you doing?” and if I allow myself to go there, if I allow myself to stop and think about the truth behind the answer, I fall apart. The truth is I’m not doing well. My heart is across town at the cemetery, in the ground next to a tiny pink and white casket. Every morning I wake up – after a pill-induced full night’s rest – because there was no hungry baby to wake me from my slumber. How am I doing? “I’m hanging in there.”

Barely. By a thread. On the wings of prayers uttered by other people. For Haley’s sake so she doesn’t have to wonder why Mommy can only cry. For Brent’s sake so he can have some strength for himself instead of constantly being mine. For my own sake so I can complete just one task, just get through part of my day.

I’m hanging in there.

There are so many things people – well-meaning, loving, sweet, dear people – say to me that make me wish I could hold up a sign that says, “Please don’t say that again.”  These are things that probably help other people in other grieving situations, or maybe even help other people who are in the same grieving situation I’m in. But I’m a different cat. We all know this. There is no one quite like me…thank the heavens above.

Words that sting…I’m going to compile a list.

“It will get better with time.”  I’ve already said I hate hearing this. My daughter is dead. There is nothing that will be better about that. I know I will function more readily as time goes on. There will be better days. There will be days when it’s harder to cry and easier to smile. I know my grieving will become less prevalent, less intense. I will never be convinced, however, that I will ever find it “better” to go through life without my little Harlynn.

“You shouldn’t…_(fill in the blank)_” Usually that’s followed by “Think those thoughts” or “feel that way” or “be worried about that right now.”  Tell me – how is thinking, feeling, or worrying any differently going to bring my daughter back? It isn’t. Let me think, feel, and worry how I have to right now. It’s part of this whole, dark journey.

“I wish I could take some of the pain away.” Thank you. I appreciate your intent, and that’s so very sweet. However, this is all I have to carry with me. I have to ache for my daughter. I have to ensure that every time I hurt in longing for her, someone knows what a beautiful baby she was. How much joy she brought to our home from within my womb. The reason I have pain in this is because Harlynn was a loved baby. Deeply loved. Loved so much by her Mommy, her Daddy, her big sister – this is why we have pain. Because we loved her. Even if you could take some of the pain away, you’d be taking some of our love with it. Sometimes the pain I feel is the only realization I have that all of this actually happened.

“God needed another angel.” No he didn’t. He didn’t take her because he’s trying to ramp up his angel army. He didn’t take her because he has some slackers up in Heaven and he’s needing to increase his work force. He didn’t take her. Her heart stopped. There are thousands upon thousands of parents who have lost their baby this way. God didn’t take them. They died. People die. Babies die. We live in a fallen world where death is a certainty. He didn’t need another angel. He didn’t kill my baby because I didn’t need her as much as he did.  He didn’t pick her over someone else. Her heart stopped beating and she died.  She’s with him now, but it’s not because he took her from us. God is no monster. He is a just God. He doesn’t take babies from parents, especially for the reason being he “needs” them. His heart aches with ours. He knows our pain. He certainly didn’t cause it.

“She’s in heaven now!” That phrase itself isn’t a bad phrase. It’s the tone that’s used when it’s said. The tone that says, “How can you be sad, when you know she’s in the presence of Jesus? Rejoice for her! You’ll see her again!” I feel like instead of saying “She’s in heaven now!” the person could just as easily say, “Ain’t no big thang!” Like I can just roll all of this agony and sadness away and get on as if I did not just bury my child. As if I did not just have my entire life turned upside down by losing a lifetime with Harlynn. Like my entire family did not just lose their daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece… Never have I thought about how far Heaven is – until I’ve begun looking forward to going. Heaven is, as one friend put it, so. far. away.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “Oh crud – I’VE said that….” don’t worry. The truth is I don’t remember who has said what. I don’t remember when it’s been said. I’m not blaming anyone, and I’m certainly not bitter towards anyone. It’s human nature to want to say and do something to make someone feel better. If you take anything away from this, let it be this: there is nothing you can say, there is nothing you can read, there is nothing you can reference that will make any of this any better, any easier, any less painful. Given the choice, I think it’s safe to say we all would have written a different ending to this story. I know I would have.

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One Reply to “Don’t Speak”

  1. My heart aches for you Val. I can only imagine what you are going through. I'm so proud of your strength and courage to work through the grieving process and not run from it. I think you are heroic to be sharing it all on your blog. Know that I am broken for you and will continue to pray for you.

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