The holidays bring such a wealth of memories for me. Memories to create and cherish creep in like the sun trying its hardest to warm us up on these brisk days.
Two years ago, I thought I had the most brilliant idea. Santa would bring my (then 5 & 8 year old) daughters kittens. The plan was fantastic and the memories more precious than words can speak. My older daughter woke early, discovered what was in the box with holes and then patiently, ever so patiently, waited for her little sister to awake. They slowly opened the presents strategically placed on top and wondered why they got cat food. Finally, the box was opened and that sweet little girl gasped so deeply when she discovered the kittens, it was like she sucked the air out of the room. Delight has never been so deep. Oh, it was the perfect day. And those kittens knew more love than any kittens could ever ask for.
Fast forward to a week before Easter, Daddy said his goodbyes and left for work. At this point our little kittens had begun to explore outside. I was waving from the garage and saw that Rainbow was close to the car, but fine. And then he jumped. My husband heard me yell and saw me frantically waving him home. How could such a perfect moment and memory be lost like this? This was a cruel, horrible instant.
Perfect moments come and go so quickly. There are no answers as to why or how, it just is.
Several years ago when I found out that we had created a new life for the third time, my happiness burst at the seams. Earlier than we had expected, this surprise baby was immediately brought into the fold of our life as we announced our thrilling news. We made appointments, we discussed birth options and while we were both caught off guard by this pea sized baby, we proceeded.
At the first visit at 12 weeks, when the midwife could not find a heartbeat we were okay. Let’s try going to radiology and have them use an internal ultrasound. It might just be too early still. It was not. Wait!! We had rallied, we had changed our plans, we had even moved kids’ bedrooms!! How could this be? Why did this have to be? Mourning had never been so deep.
These perfect moments of delight come and go in our lexicon. We work so hard to create them and then, as if effortlessly, they vanish. I mourn those kittens; the heartbreak was so real, so tangible for my girls. I mourn our sweet angel baby, who we named Eliti, the name my husband found in a book in the waiting room of the midwives office during that first visit. The name means gift of the sun, which it was.
As the sunlight wanes now, shorter days stir the memory of this short life we got to cherish. I wonder who that baby would be and what would be on their Christmas list. When I look around and know that so many other mommies have this same story, a new life that is quickly taken away, I pause. I feel for her, know her loss and sadness. I wonder if she misses her baby as much as I miss mine.
During this season where we work so hard to create memories, we simultaneously stir the memories of the past. The tears flow and then I look at the sun and find gratitude for its gift of light, strength and renewal.
Jennifer Fisher serves as the President of NACEF (through December 2013) and works at Legacy Health and OHSU as a Childbirth Educator. She is currently on the path to midwifery, and has a habit of running various relays and races to maintain her balance.