She would have been seventeen rummaging through my closet and distracted thinking about her first crush. She'd question whether or not she should tell me all about it or just write his name in her journal for the millionth time with hearts framing it.
I held her inside of me for such a short time, but long enough to love her and call her mine.
Some dreams take a very long time and losing her crushed me, causing waves of sadness and my first real experience with depression. My womb should have been the safest place for her to grow. But, it wasn’t safe at all, more like a war-zone with a diagnosis of endometriosis and adenomyosis. After the doctor's opened me up, they later said it looked like a "bomb went off." It was everywhere and on multiple organs, but finally, I had an answer for all the pain I assumed was normal. They removed everything they could get to and put me into medically induced menopause after my surgery - which was pure hormonal hell for a twenty-five-year-old.
While I lost my dream, someone I love more than life grew hers and later shared her with me. She never called me mom, she called me Fur-fur and being her aunt helped me heal. The love of a child is a powerful thing, strong enough to fill an ache and my waiting space of wondering if I would ever become a mom.
Others wondered if I would be envious of my sister and find it hard to handle, but sisters share the very best things and the worst things together. Being the overprotective big sis, I never ever wanted my baby sister to experience what my heart was trying so desperately to get over. I was glad it was me instead of her.
Sisters share better as we age and come to realize that our strongest friendships are with the ones we fought with the most.
My sister shared her daughter with me and because of that, she gave me two of the greatest gifts of cradling her joy and becoming an aunt. My sis loved how much my husband and I loved that chunky, bald baby with blue eyes and the sweetest smile.
She shared her with me.
She shared her with us.
After I miscarried for the second time, I went home to be with my mom. It was my sister’s idea to have gifts for me on the bed and a gorgeous calla lily on the nightstand with a card that acknowledged my grief and the loss we were all feeling together. We were all grieving the loss, not just me. And, when I broke down crying feeling such loss and so loved at the same time, my mom held me while I whispered, “I don’t want to live.”
She whispered back, “Don’t say that.” Reminding me of all of the reasons why I should just try. Try to live. Try to hurt with others watching. Try to hope with my arms wrapped around the woman who gave me life and watched me grow.
And at my darkest, my sister helped me cradle the pain, she acknowledged my broken heart and shared something just as important as those chubby cheeks and sloppy kisses…she shared my sorrows.
She will be eighteen in March and I want to buy that niece of mine something so special, that gorgeous girl has no idea how much her entry into my world and heart helped me heal. Maybe this is my small way of telling her that.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and there are so many angles that I have covered writing about pregnancy loss, but I didn’t want to just write about what I’ve lost. I want to write about what I gained and why I celebrate life to the fullest because of a eighteen-year-old. I wanted to give those who have absolutely no clue how to love someone who has lost a child a few practical ways to help the ones you love to heal.
Share. Don’t be afraid to share their pain and don’t be afraid to share your joy. We don’t need to see you taming your joy or trying not to rub your growing belly, let us feel life kick inside of you. Let us be hopeful for you and with you, whatever that looks like.
My best advice to you would be to just share. Share it all. The joy, the mess, the pain. Those who have lost something so precious want you to acknowledge their pain, not avoid it. Do something special for them, a gift, a card, a token of remembrance while they try. Try to live. Try to hurt with others watching. And try to hope with empty arms.
Jennifer Renee Watson