Two Years

Two years.  It’s been two years since I saw those pretty blue eyes.  Two years since I held her as her heart took its final pulse.  And mine kept beating even while shattering.  It sounds so trivial to say “I can’t believe it’s been two years”.  But I can’t.  Maybe because life looks much like it did in those days after.  Same house. Same job.  The same people living what looks from the outside to be the same life as it was before.  Or maybe it’s because there are moments the pain seems just as fresh.  Searing through my body.  I’ve tried to keep moving.  Because when you stop—when you stop, the pain washes back over you.  In those still moments.  In the shower.  Trying to fall asleep at night.

At first I didn’t want to believe I was broken.  Because that meant I needed to be fixed.  But over the last two years, I’ve realized that yes, I am broken.  My heart is.  The life I dreamed is not what I have.  The beautiful little girl that should be here is not.  And that will always leave me shattered.  But I don’t need to be fixed.  I’m allowed to be broken.  I’m allowed to walk around with part of my heart missing.  It will continue to beat, although bruised, battered and with a hole.  And the truth is, I don’t want to be fixed.  I don’t ever want to fully heal.  Because I don’t want to forget her.  And I don’t want to forget the love I have for her.  That hole in my heart needs to be there.  And the brokenness drives me.  Drives me to talk about her.  To say her name. To remember her.

August has been hard.  I think worse than last year.  I’ve cried every day.  I flashback to those final days.  And it overtakes me again.  Recently, I found myself in a room full of medical students telling our story.  And in particular the story of her death.  How in the final days we were at a pediatrician getting a referral so we could take Zoey to get a consultation on heart surgery.  And then the emergency room.  Placing a feeding tube.  Zoey ripping it out as soon as we got home.  A phone call.  Removing the tube.  Bathing her for the last time.  Holding her tiny body and placing my hand around her little chest so I could feel when her heart stopped.  Handing her stiff, cold body to a funeral home.  Losing my ability to stand on my own.  And then the fog.  And I told them how the moment she left us was so peaceful and beautiful.  As if I’d just handed her to my dad to hold for a little bit.  Until I could again.  But everything after is what haunts me.

And I told them how I had to believe I will see her again someday.  I don’t have a choice.  While I’ve struggled with faith and with understanding why this could happen, I try not to dwell there.  Because to get through all of these days, I have to believe there is a purpose for the pain.  And I have to believe that she’s somewhere so much more beautiful than earth.  And I have to believe she sends us signs.  It might be easier to brush these things off as coincidence.  Because saying you believe in that can make you sound a little crazy sometimes.  But it’s what I need.  Because I have to believe that one night as I was looking at the sky and its double rainbow and our song came on the radio, it was Zoey saying hello.

I miss her.

Zoey, I love you. I miss you.  But I hope you’re having an amazing time.  Thank you and your friends for sending us rainbows, and flowers and songs on the radio.  I’ll see you again soon, my love.  Until then, I hope my love finds you  wherever you are.


Strong enough

As I got home from the gym this morning, I opened Facebook and another one those “here’s your memory from years ago” popped up.  Another one from “before”.  Before Zoey.  This morning it was a run four years ago.  Recently, I’ve seen memories of past vacations.  And other races including a few sprint triathlons.  When I was much thinner and faster.  And clueless about what life was about to bring.  I look at those pictures and sometimes it bothers me that I don’t look like that anymore.  I’m heavier, more round in the middle.  More grey in my hair.  More wrinkles.  My body is bruised and scarred.  Much like my soul.  But then I think about what it’s done in the last few years.  It carried life.  A beautiful, miraculous, amazing life.  And I appreciate the scar I have to show for it.  And it’s carried the weight of grief—which at moments has felt like a physical weight.  I remember those early days where it took all of my energy just to get out of bed and to keep moving.  But my body remembered how.  So it did.  And gradually the physical exhaustion became less apparent.  Or my body got stronger and carried it more easily.  And I remember those moments in my life when I wasn’t able to stand on my own—walking out of the doctor’s office the day we first heard the words Trisomy 18 and right after I handed her body over.  But I did get up again.  My heart kept beating despite its broken pieces.  I want to look back on those pictures and appreciate where I was at that time.  And I want to look at the pictures of me now and appreciate that I’m strong enough to make changes.  Strong enough to keep moving forward.  And strong enough to carry the pain and still manage to find joy and hope.