One year ago tonight I stood next to my husband at the front of a sanctuary that I had been in a thousand times, the sanctuary where we got married. Less than six feet away from me laid my baby girl in a white casket. As I looked up and saw the long line of people who had come to pay their respects, I buried my face in the chest of my husband and cried, “I can’t do this.” I remember it like it was yesterday. The memories of April 17, 2012, the day we held Kyleigh’s visitation, and April 18, 2012, the day of her celebration of life, are clearer to me than the day of her birth and death, April 5, 2012. The memories of her birth day are fuzzy for many reasons and also still pretty traumatic for me to recall. So I try not to. The memories of the days following slowly come into focus the further away I get. The days of April 6-8 are all blurred into one, but I remember specific details. The day of April 9, when I was released from the hospital, plays like a movie in my head. I remember the sequence of events more from that day than any other that I was in the hospital. And it’s not because I was released at 9 a.m. I was there all day, finally being released around 9 p.m. After a 40 minute drive home and then waiting for Rodger to find an open pharmacy, it was after midnight before I had my meds and was in bed. I’m not sure why this day stands out to me so much over the others.
Like the days following Kyleigh’s birthday, the days following me returning home are a mixture of memories. I remember people coming to see us, bringing us food, picking up laundry, but I couldn’t tell you what happened on which day. All of that stops again on April 17 and 18. The details jump out in my mind, but are often hard to put into words. I remember who was first in line at the visitation and who got make-up on Rodger’s suit jacket when they hugged him. I remember my sister being right there the entire time, offering water to drink and tissues for our tears. I remember enough details of Kyleigh’s Celebration of Life to know it was a beautiful service for a beautiful girl. I remember releasing balloons and watching every last one get unstuck from the trees and make their way into the blue sky. I remember not being able to handle talking to people afterwards and excusing myself to go back inside. I remember my doctor lending me a hand as I walked from the car to the gravesite service. I remember who sat with us afterwards at lunch and being humbled by who served us lunch. I remember going home and being exhausted, emotionally and physically.
Fast forward to April 17, 2013 … A lot has happened over the past two weeks. We made it through our first year without Kyleigh being physically with us, for she lives forever in our hearts. We celebrated her birthday with family and friends by our side. We have communicated with the hospital to begin working on how to use the funds in Kyleigh’s Gift. Great things are in the works and I can’t wait to share Kyleigh with all babies born at the birthing center where she was. More on all of this later.
For now, I leave you with a reminder of the beauty that was in the sky the morning of April 18, 2012 …