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4 years later.....

By: Erin Epstein

Every time this month rolls around, I go into it thinking that I can escape it

That enough time has passed where it won’t hurt anymore

That it will just be a distant memory and I can go on just believing my daughter is in a place where her once earthly body is free of pain

Time doesn’t heal all wounds, but time has made it easier for me to process things I couldn’t years prior

Yet, on this date, remembering this night 4 years ago, all of that pain resurfaces

I believed that in just a few weeks, my daughter would really be coming home from the NICU

That after so long of wanting this child, until finally conceiving her, we could truly start our life together away from the confining hospital walls

I remember hoping she’d be home for Mother’s Day and how special that would be

Little did I know, she wasn’t coming home at all

This night would be the only night I’d ever sleep in the same room as my daughter

I slept in a chair in her hospital room, terrified of every beep or sound

We were no longer surrounded by the familiar faces of the NICU nurses

Now, we were surrounded by strangers telling me things that I didn’t want to hear

This would be the night before my daughter started to rapidly decline before my eyes

When all of the hopes and dreams I had for her, would turn into nothing but the hope for her survival

The next few weeks consisted of research and educating myself about medical terminology

Terminology I had never heard

Familiarizing myself with complex medications and so much information I never, ever wanted to learn

I wish I could say that these weeks of terror, trauma, and inner turmoil have left me

I wish I could say time made these memories fade

I wish I didn't remember the littlest details with such clarity

I wish I could tell you, 4 years later, something has helped ease the pain

Most days I make some sort of peace with her passing

That’s not to say it wasn't completely unjust

I can remember her, her strength, and the love that she filled me with

I tell myself “You didn’t want her to suffer” and somehow use this as a way to survive

I can use her legacy to try and help others

I will remember her life as the miracle it was

Most days when I think of her, I think of peace & beauty

And over time, her presence in my heart soothes me because I know she’s still there

But this week, and the weeks to come, are ones I could never have prepared myself for

I have to remind myself that it is “OK” to have good days, and then days where I am not feeling so strong

I’m not built in armor all year long

The hard days just remind me I'm human

For me, these were the weeks that reminded us why we can’t see the future

The weeks when my hopes and dreams were shattered

Where I left my second baby at the hospital, who like her brother, wasn’t able to come home

I remember every interaction, every moment of pleading to try just one more thing

I remember in those last weeks, begging for honesty

I remember feeling as though we were running out of options, and no one wanted to have to be the one to let me know

I remember feeling as though I was desperately trying to outrun a clock that would eventually, stop no matter where I turned

And then, I remember that final day

I remember having to tell my daughter that it was ok if she needed to go

I remember the promise I made her

I told her that if she would not have the quality of life she deserved, I would sacrifice my heart and let her go peacefully

I’ll never forget, but after I uttered those words to her, she listened

She too, let me know that it was time

I admire her strength, her courage, and how she hung on longer than she ever should have

I know she did this for me, the same way I sacrificed for her

Normally, this brings me some peace

This sacred bond that we share

Knowing how hard I fought for her life during pregnancy and how, in her short life, she fought just as hard to give me time to spend with her

What a beautiful gift never to be taken for granted

Yet again, I remind myself, it doesn’t mean this isn’t allowed to hurt

I often feel guilty for the time I spent with her, while many other loss parents don't get the same chance to have

But with or without more time, the aching pain of loss stings the same

We all lost something so sacred and so beautiful

Tonight & in the weeks to come, there will be a sadness I can’t run from

There will be pain that no time can fix

I will carry her with me each day, knowing that the strength of her love is what will get me through, as it has every year

I’ll pray for the sunlight of the spring because somehow, I believe it’s her shining that light down on me

That when the flowers and butterflies come, it’s because of her

Some days, some weeks, and some months feel unbearable

Trauma can, and does, resurface even in time

But love is essentially why we move forward

I know in my heart there hasn’t been a day since she left when Madelyn isn’t looking down on me

Still, 4 years later, I feel the utmost gratitude for her life and the earth-shattering pain of her loss

I have to remind myself that both of those things are okay to coexist

*If you too are fighting through trauma and the guilt of embracing the good days,

PLEASE know your baby(ies) want you to LIVE in spite of their loss and to live FULLY

They do not wish you any shame or pain, or guilt

What child doesn’t want their Mother or Father to be happy?

There will be HARD, almost unbearable days - especially during pivotal dates or times

Please give yourself grace

And when you find yourself in a day that feels bearable again, enjoyable even, please know that they WANT you to have those days

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