Without a word, Ryan gripped my hand tighter as we pulled up to the lights. Tears welled in my eyes as our passengers were quite and oblivious in the back seat. We had just passed the hospital where 18 months before we were told our child had died. 18 months before, I gave birth to my dead baby in a silent birth suite. No first screams. No cheerfulness. Just my big, beautiful, lifeless baby. Her black lips, her purple peeling skin, her head that felt like mush after staying in my belly for 4 days after her death. We made her. Half of him and half of me.
Only 15 minutes before, on that same car ride, we passed the funeral chapel where Ryan and I had carried our daughter in her bassinet up the stairs and into a small back room where we said our final goodbyes. I picked my daughter up in a hurry-worried I would damage her fragile head. I didn’t get to hold my baby close to me squeezing her tight, afraid to let go. Instead I had to quickly place her in her tiny casket and lean in and kiss her, one last time. Whisper in her ear, one last time. Take in her beautiful face, her soft feet, her full cheeks, one last time before we had to step back & look away as our dads closed the lid of her casket.
Facing mundane moments like a simple car ride with these horrific reminders of the worst time of our lives can only ever be comforted by Ryan. No one else understands or can comprehend the daily nightmare we both live. Not our parents, our best friends, our closest family and friends. Only us. Whittaker’s parents.
We carry this deep hole in our hearts and yet we choose to go there. Replaying these painful but beautiful moments. Searching for the beauty in them because otherwise.. how could we even get out of bed every morning?! The horror we have experienced and continue to navigate daily is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
And yet I am grateful. Grateful for one thing. That I have Ryan to battle this with. He knows exactly how I feel without looking at me or without a single word. Because he feels it too.
I know of people who have lost their partners and in some ways that has to be worse than this. Ryan and I go to bed holding each other tight. Sometimes, I fall asleep crying in his arms. Grief is so individual and isolating. But for us, the one thing we have is each other. 2 parents who get up everyday unable to parent our daughter. 2 parents who go to sleep every night wondering what our life would be like if she was here with us. 2 parents who say out loud daily.. how is this our life?! Why us? Why her? I will never understand.
To anyone else it’s just a car ride. To us, it’s a glimpse into the past 18 months and the lifetime we have ahead of us. No easy detours, no going back. Just straight ahead, front on. A long, painful and bumpy road but easier to navigate with my lifelong co driver.