Membership Nonrefundable

I’m part of a new club now. I never asked to be admitted, and I certainly would never willingly apply for membership. I don’t have a membership card, and I won’t be getting monthly newsletters. There won’t be any galas or wine-and-dine events. I’m a member of the grieving parent club. I had to lose a child to get in. A price far too high, and one I would give anything to have refunded. Do over. Wake up from this nightmare.

Four weeks ago tonight I went into labor after hearing the devastating news Harlynn’s heart was no longer beating. These last four weeks have been such a blur – going far too fast as the world still spins around us. I have just a couple of weeks before I head back to work. As much as I want it to, time refuses to stand still. I decided today I have to make the most of it – no matter how hard it is. I have to do what I can to embrace each day.

Today I picked Haley up from the sitter’s at noon. I brought her home for lunch and made our bed cozy so she and I could nap together. She wanted to talk to her teddy bear instead of sleep.  Finally, after about 25 minutes, she was out. And so was I. Unfortunately, that only lasted for about 37 minutes. She was wide awake. I guess it’s just too exciting to be napping in Mommy and Daddy’s (awesomely comfortable) bed.

We put our shoes on, grabbed our water bottles and bubbles, and headed out. Haley really wanted to go to the park today, and I really wanted to take her to Harlynn’s grave site.  Luckily for both of us, the two venues are next door neighbors.

I pulled in to the cemetery and Haley asked, “Mommy? Is this the cemetery?”
“Yes it is, Sweetie.”
“Where is Harlynn?”
“She’s up in front of us here.”
Moooooom, no! She’s up in HEAVEN!”
“That’s right. She is. And who is she with up in Heaven?”
“She’s with GOD!”
I pulled over on the side of the dirt road and parked the van. “Is she buried under the dirt, mommy?”

Why does any three year old have to ever ask that question about their baby sister?

We walked over to Harlynn’s grave. I pulled Haley’s Hello Kitty bubbles out of my pocket. “Look what Mommy brought. Do you think Harlynn would like to see how you blow bubbles?”
“YEAH! Harlynn, I am gonna blow you bubbles!”

She did. She blew and blew until I thought she might pass out. She loved blowing bubbles for her baby sister today.  I made her take a little break, since she was wearing more bubbles than she was producing. She came over and sat on my lap.  We sat and talked about the grass growing, Harlynn’s picture on her site marker, and where the deer and turkeys might be hiding since we didn’t see them out and about today.

As we sat there next to Harlynn, I heard a car drive up and stop. I didn’t want to look. I didn’t want it to be what I thought it was.

Haley was getting antsy to go to the park. I told Haley to blow her sister a kiss and say, “We love you, Harlynn!” She obliged, and I did the same. I stood up and turned around and there walked another mom, carrying a big pinwheel and some other toys to place at her child’s grave. Haley started to make conversation with her, amazed at the big pinwheel. The mom smiled and started to walk over as I brushed dirt off my pants.

“You lost your baby?”
I nodded.
“Can I hug you?”
I nodded again.
We hugged there in the middle of the cemetery and both started to cry.

Why do so many parents have to know this pain?

I told her Harlynn was stillborn. She glanced over and saw her name and picture on the marker. When she learned Harlynn’s name, she said the North Dakotan phrase I’ve always found so….North Dakotan. “Oh, for cute!”  She continued, “It will get easier. It will. But it will always come in waves. It’s been 12 years for me.” I gasped. I told her how I struggle day to day, and I cannot wrap my mind around how parents deal with this for years. Years.

She lost her son when he was eight days old. She lives in a town about 45 minutes away, I learned, and had to make special plans to come visit her son, Max. She told me I would be in her prayers. I told her the same.  Haley told her goodbye, and we walked back towards the van. Haley asked me, “What is that lady doing here?”
“She’s here to visit her son, just like we were here to visit Harlynn.”
“Is her son buried?”
“Yes, sweetheart. She lost her baby 12 years ago, like we lost Harlynn.”
“Oh. Is she sad?”
“Yes, she’s sad. Just like we’re sad sometimes when we miss your baby sister.”
“Can we go to the park now?”

I wanted to change the subject, too.

We drove out of the cemetery, while Haley called out to the deer wondering where they were. We didn’t see them today. We headed on to the park where Haley did her all-time favorite activity: swing.  She wanted to be pushed higher and higher and was letting out little, “woo hoo!”s with each push. It wasn’t too long before I realized we were in the blazing sun, and I hadn’t thought to bring any sunscreen with us. Before our pale skin got fried, I managed to talk her in to leaving to buy some sunscreen. And M&Ms.;

We headed to the store, and my heart broke not only for us as a family, but for the mom I met today, and all the parents who are members of this exclusive club. I’d give anything not to be a member. More so, I’d give anything for the club not to exist at all.

Next: What’s In A Name
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