It's been a long time since I've been faced with this way of thinking. And while I handled it better than I would have 3 years ago, it still broke my heart just the same.
Funny thing is that I just said to a friend yesterday that the stupid comments have pretty much stopped. I guess I was wrong. I had said "I can say this now because I am 3 years out, but I know that the stupid words usually came from a place of really wanting to help." But now I'm not sure what the definition of 'help' is....
I was just told that there were family members who didn't come to Rachel's funeral because they "didn't consider her a real baby". I said that they would have come if it was one of my other children and was told "of course".
Cut my heart wide open and pour the salt in.... is that supposed to help me feel better? To really understand? It could never work that way because I didn't hold a funeral for a fake child. I didn't invite people to watch me cry in front of a huge gathering of people because I like drama. I was getting ready to put my real baby in the freaking ground. And if you would come for my other children, but don't see the point in coming for Rachel, then that is a problem for me. Not being able to make it, whether it was one of the other kids or a baby without a major organ, is one thing. Not coming because what she was missing made her somehow less important or disqualified from the family... completely different.
Rachel Alice Aube was a real. live. baby. girl. And she was mine. She was my daughter, which makes her your ______ (fill in the blank). She has a soul and it is no less 'real' than any other human being's soul is. I gave birth to her. And then I had to bury her. And it was the hardest thing I have EVER had to ever do in my entire life and I needed you all. I needed you. There I said it. The funeral wasn't just about the dead fake baby. It was about us. Me and Matt and our living children who had just been through a tragedy.
And you know... her birthdays are the same. Everyone blows them off. Only a very few family members acknowledge it, even though I've said over and over that it's important to me. I've learned to just accept it and keep going. I've learned to be thankful for the people not related to us that do support us and remember her with me. And I've learned to really cherish the family members who do remember her with us. But you need to know that it is excruciating for me when you don't. And I mean gut wrenching painful. Would it be so hard to just add her name to the card? put it in parenthesis if you need to... say "And Rachel even thought she is dead"... whatever you got to do to make it acceptable to you to include her just to help mend the wounds on my heart.... but nothing. I get nothing and then an 'I'm sorry' two weeks later or a "she's not a real baby" 3 years later. And I'm supposed to say "OH, okay, that makes perfect sense, no problem!" ??????
But you know what? If I'm really honest, the statement hurts like it does because I get it. I've looked at my photos of her and of me holding her and dressing her and sleeping with her and talking to her and of my children holding their dead sister and I think I must be out of my mind....she was not a whole baby... how can I love someone so much that I don't even know - who might not really know me. I think about how deformed she was under her hat and the sting of her short life and I wonder if she was real. I wonder if my love is real. I wonder if it shouldn't matter like it does. I wonder if it was really God's plan or a big mistake as the genetic counselors will tell you it is.
But just for the record, she was real. She is real. And her funeral was beautiful and encouraging and uplifting, even with as sad as it was, so if you didn't go or only went because this crazy newly bereaved mother battered you into being there with threats of never talking to you again... well, you missed out. You missed out on her. You missed out on an unconditional love. You missed out on the Presence of God. You missed out on our real baby's goodbye. You also missed out on knowing the blessing of comforting people heavy laden with grief. You missed the opportunity to show my other children how much THEY mean to you. Because I might understand that you would be there for them in a different way, but they don't. You missed out on a chance to be selfless.
And those things are all the biggest blessings I have ever had in my life. To know her and true unconditional love. To know the Presence of God in those days. To give her a beautiful goodbye just like I would any of my other children - OR ANY OF YOUR CHILDREN. To learn how to comfort people and be there for them. To show compassion and put myself after others. To help my living children to see how important their Mama's kids are to her. I'm thankful for those things. I count them a privilege.
And if I can put aside my Mama bear and my anger and my offense and all of my 'points' and my expectations....
I just need you to know that I needed you.
And I still do.
I needed you to recognize with me and for me that she mattered. That she was worth showing up for. I needed to see the chairs filled. I needed your presence. I needed to know that you were there for us. For me. That you took your role as her _____ seriously and as an honor.
And all pride aside and not to attempt to put a guilt trip on you, but you broke my heart.
I will always forgive and God has helped me work through most of it to a place of acceptance. But something happened to my heart in those disappointments that will never be mended completely this side of heaven. I'm okay with that. But don't ever think that explaining to me that she wasn't good enough to be allotted that time will ever make me feel better. If anything, that just set me back.
I stood here and cried and as Matt tried to comfort me saying that it's just a sad opinion, I heard myself groan through my tears "I know it's not the only one who thinks it."
And that is just too much for me to take. People think she wasn't real.
Lord, have mercy on my aching heart.
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.a
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them