Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Benefits of the Doubted

Sometimes I can't sleep at night.

Last night was one of those nights. I wasn't having a particularly hard night or anything I was just restless. I think My husband was too because he was silent as the grave. Whenever he is silent, he is awake. It's the snoring that lets me know he's asleep. (and in his defense it isn't snoring, it's just breathing but I need silence to sleep dangit! Can't he just not breathe?)

But anyway. I was laying there and my thoughts were drifting all over and back and I began to wonder why. The question of all questions. I don't really ask it in a "WHY??????-insert tears-" kind of way anymore. I just wonder why.

What was the purpose? What was the point?

Well I know, for Gracie, at least she needed to come here and get a body and become part of our family. But for me. Why for me?

And I don't think I know the complete why, or the rippling effects she will have in the years to come but I do think I have learned one thing.

Everyone has hard things.

It's simple, obvious even, but I think we forget. We all know... but we forget.

I am now an advocate for the doubted and am constantly fighting for their benefit.

Everyone, everywhere gets the benefit of the doubt from me. Whether it is someone who said something seemingly rude or someone who cuts me off in traffic, they are now recipients of my benefit.

I can tell you this though. There is nothing like a personal tragedy to bring people out of the woodwork who want to share their tragedy with you and give you the beautiful gift of empathy. EVERYONE has hard things. EVERYONE.

Most people just don't wear a name tag that says, My name is Veronica and I am currently struggling with [blank], the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life.

I cannot even count the number of times I was driving home from a doctor's appt in  Dallas just trying to keep a grip on the edge of the precipice I was hanging from. I was distracted. Sometimes tears were blurring my eyes. Yes there are road rage jerks out there, but I like to think that often times there are people like me. Just hanging on.

I am not sure why I wrote this. I am debating whether or not I should even post it. But I probably will. Maybe everyone that reads it will remember it and be a little kinder, a little softer to others. And I think that would be good.  

Monday, March 19, 2012

People Who Don't Know

My phone just rang from our bank's fraud prevention department because I just paid all the medical bills. Guess it's good to know they are aware.

I was on the phone with our insurance for a while and they were so confused about billing and neo natal services and we finally whittled it down. She said she was going to have to forward me to something something management. Apparently at least at this hospital, as long as your baby leaves with you their costs just go on your bill. If they stay in the NICU then they get their own bill.

It was really frustrating because I kept getting put on hold and shuffled and I would try to cut in and explain and then some obnoxious music would cut me off.  I don't know why there was such great confusion but there was.
And the lady was finally like "How long was your baby in the hospital after you left?"

And I said, "She wasn't."

And she said, "It has her listed her as having been in the NICU with blah blah blah staff."

And I said, "She did have a NICU nurse but she died so really, she left before I left."


Shuts them up every time.

And it's weird. Because most of the time I am so grateful to come across people who don't know. I don't have to talk about her. I don't have the identity of girl-who-lost-her-baby. And then sometimes I just have this inexpressible urge for people to know.

Like the guy at the tire shop or a random lady I'm chatting with at the park. Or on a plane.

Which brings me to another story.

I recently went to Utah to visit one of my best friends for a little down time.

On the flight there, there was a woman sitting next to me and we made small talk for a second and then I got out my book and she reclined to sleep. I looked down at my locket that has pictures of Gracie in it and I turned to her and said, "Can I ask you a weird question?"

She said, ".......Yes"

me "You asked me just now how many kids I had and I said three boys. I actually had a little girl too, but I didn't mention her because she died.  But what I am always wondering is would you, as an objective stranger feel uncomfortable if I had said that or would you be fine? I just don't know what to say to people."

By her expression think I pretty much shocked her pants off.

"No, it's fine. It's sad, but I don't mind that you told me."

I told her a little of the story and showed her the pictures in my locket and then said thanks and went back to reading.

And then she starts crying. I mean crying. For like ten minutes. I apologized and she said, "no, no it's fine it's just touching and a little sad"

So. What do I learn from this? Maybe don't mention her??? Or maybe don't break out the pictures? I really don't know. But most of all I think I learned that there are still so many good caring people in this world and I'm really touched that she, a total stranger, would cry for me and my baby.

And to all of you readers who have cried with me too, friends and strangers a like, I'm so so grateful for you too.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Funeral Part Two

I'm not going to lie. I've put this off.

Sometimes the days are easier when I don't relive things. Sometimes I can't control it, out of the blue a heart wrenching horrific memory will assault my mind and I can see everything with excruciating detail causing me to lose it. But sometimes I can, for example the blog.

I don't want too much time to pass though because I want to remember.

So. Funeral Day.

I wore pink. And I carried her blanket. When they took her away at the hospital I clutched onto that blanket like it was the only thing keeping me tied to this Earth. I clutched it for days. I slept with it, ate with it, basically all but showered with it. I still sleep with it but I suppose that will pass in time too. Just not yet.

We went to the funeral home. I was apprehensive. We went into the foyer and off the foyer were all these double doors. We were pointed to our doors and went inside. And there she was. Laying peacefully in a cradle. She could have been sleeping. I ran to her and held her and sobbed.

We prepared her coffin. Her sweet little coffin my dad made. It was perfect. We filled the bottom with rose petals. There was a little white pillow for her head. It was as lovely as it could be.

I don't think I can write much more about that. It was a deeply personal and sacred time. I think this picture pretty much sums it up.

Kendall and I had to part ways before the funeral. He had to go home and pick up some of his family members and I needed to stop at the pharmacy first so I went with my mom.

The time for the funeral was getting closer and closer and I started feeling more and more nervous. I didn't want to be there. I didn't want to go in and have everyone stare at me and look sad and say they were sorry. So I told my mom I wasn't going.

I wasn't.

Let me just pause a second to express my gratitude for my parents. For everything they have done for me. Without them I would be....I don't have words.  
But my mom. She is my best friend and often times a second self closely aligned with my thoughts and needs. She just anticipates--me.

Anyway. She turned to me in the car and said, "You need to put on your big girls pants and go. Gracie would want you there. You go, you bear it and then you can go home and fall to pieces. But you go."

I felt like a little child again. She was right. So I went. 

But when I walked in the foyer and I saw people standing there I bolted for an empty classroom somehow grabbing my youngest sister by the arm as I went. She was like a shield. I pretended to be engrossed in a conversation with her until we closed the door. 

I collapsed onto a chair and she sat down next to me. Now. She is ten years my younger and still in high school. Let's just say, her life experience is a little different than mine. But she was exactly what I needed. She said, "What do you need? Do you want a hug? Do you want me to tap dance? Because I can do that." (and she literally could because she had been practicing for her school musical)

I laughed and said no dancing was necessary and then we somehow got started on planning this amazing junk food fest for after the funeral. It was very very detailed involving a handful of establishments and carefully ordered food and the creation of a junk food pyramid balancing the salts, and sweets, and sours. It distracted me and made me laugh a little. 

And then my mom flung open the door saying "there you are. Everyone has been looking everywhere for you!" 

I hadn't relized no one witnessed us going into the classroom but oh well. It's not like they would start without me.

We went to another classroom where all family members were and held a little prayer. My monkeys and the other cousins were running around laughing and screaming and everyone kept telling them to be quiet and tried to restrain them but I liked it. I imagine that if Gracie was with them she would be doing the same thing  

Now. This what I think about funerals. It's like a wedding except there is no honeymoon at the end. I had expected there to be my family and maybe a handful of others. But I was wrong. The entire chapel was packed. I was not prepared. I suddenly felt self conscious and emotional. I don't even know who was there really because all I could do was stare at the ground as we walked the long aisle to the front. 

The service really was lovely. We sang an opening hymn and then Kendall's dad offered a prayer.

And then....Kendall spoke. When Kendall had said he wanted to speak I thought he was crazy. I knew that if I had tried to speak I probably would have sobbed until I blacked and out and they would have had to carry me out of there. But he did. And he did it with grace.

He wore a hot pink tie. If any of you know my husband, you know this is highly irregular. The only reason he possesed a hot pink tie was that he was forced to wear it for one of his brother's weddings. He is just not a pink guy and definitely not a softie.

But oh, Gracie Belle. She was only with us for a matter of moments really and he will eternally be wrapped around her little finger. He wore that pink tie with pride for his little girl. It was all his idea. I love that man.

He somehow managed to speak and then a family friend, Eric sang a beautiful arrangement of 'Silent Night'. My dad accompanied on the piano. I found out after the fact that they were very very nervous about the performance because they had never made it through the song without mistakes or without breaking down once. Not ONCE. But I believe the Lord strengthened them because they performed it PERFECTLY. I am almost certain not one eye was dry afterwards.

Then our stake president, President Riding spoke. I have known him since I was very young and he helped guide Kendall and I through this trying time and I just felt he would be perfect. And he was.

We had a closing hymn at which point my children were about to bounce off the walls and my father said the closing prayer.

I know this took forever for me to post and you to read but I do have more to say about the burial. HOWEVER. I will have to have a funeral part three because I am done for now. 

Until then.