They say time heals all wounds.
Time does not heal all wounds but instead makes them more bearable.
The mind is good at forgetting hard things—but one thing it’s good at is remembering trauma.
Every year, without fail, my body reacts to unbearable memories of this day: September 19th, 2007. As the day creeps closer, my brain retreats to a dark place. It remembers trauma and knows how to do it. As the days go by, I get closer and closer to the feelings of when my daughter took her last breath—they are here again, inching closer until I can’t breathe.
My head hurts and I am exhausted. I overanalyze everything, overthinking what I’m overanalyzing, and the heavy guilt that runs deep in my veins pumps throughout my body.
I am flooded with memories that are burned into my heart. I find myself standing over her grave as I watch my young husband carry her casket up over the hill himself. As he holds it in his arms, I am ripped away and am back in a dust-smelling room. The smell is so different from the ornate smells of the NICU at Seattle Children’s that once brought me comfort but now make me feel like I am choking.
We’re sitting with a man who wants to show us our “options.” My eyes dart around the room at large, brown wooden boxes. I’m afraid to turn around, because behind me are three tiny felt boxes—one is cream, one is light blue, and one is pink. They all hold the same meaning. I noticed them when we walked in.
I have to choose one of these. We have to choose one of these. I stare at him wondering if he thinks this is real. He can’t; I don’t. I feel like I’m in a nightmare. He has to know this isn’t real.
I know this man across the table is about to tell us this is an awful nightmare and all I have to do is choose and I can go home.
We’re too young to bury a baby. My baby, our baby. I’m in many ways too young to be a mom. How will I care for my sweet one-year-old boy at home when all I want to do is lay on the floor?
He does think it’s real, because he clears his throat and asks us if we’re ready. In my head, I’m screaming at him, my face is red, and I’m covering my ears—but I respond yes.
Yes, I’m ready. But I’m dying inside. I’m 23. I have a 12-month-old and a dead baby.
I break all over again as we choose.
I open my eyes and center on my husband. I watch him and wonder if he is okay. But in that moment and the years that follow, I can barely hold my head above the water and hold my breath. My husband unselfishly and lovingly holds his so I can function.
He reaches where we are standing and places her sweet box in the ground. He throws the first dirt on top himself. Not one important detail left up to anyone else.
I don’t know who is there. I see my husband and that is all. This beautiful human who, unknowingly to me, will be our rock to stand on. The glue that binds us together and mends my cracks, offering to carry my pack full of grief when it’s too heavy while carrying his own. Thank you, Jesus, for this man.
What I have learned through the years since our daughter’s death is that some people can be awful, say and do awful things, stare at you while rubbing salt in your wounds, and even make your pain about them. But there are beautiful people who walk this earth whom God has placed in your path to help your heart heal even just a little—and sometimes a lot.
We have been so blessed to have some of the best friends in our corner. They stick it out and love you hard when you need it and even when you don’t. We are soaring with broken wings and sometime land in hard places.
Every year, I unwillingly manifest my trauma over and over again as the days grow close to the anniversary of Addie. Then, on this day, I wake up and can breath again, and I smile because I know that she is living within me.
I don’t know if I will ever be healed completely or if I will ever feel whole again, but for now I hold on tight and rest in Jesus, knowing each year as I go through the process I come out braver and stronger.
I am evolving to meet my true spirit. I’m going to stand in the light and be seen as I am.