I looked down at his adorable wee head, snuggled into my chest in the Over The Shoulder Baby Holder sling, gave him a little kiss and then uttered some words innocently, unaware of what this action would bring about. Had I known, I would have spared it for a more appropriate time and place. Certainly not in the YMCA hallway, with people all around, on this busy Saturday morning.
What I had whispered to my baby was the simple phrase, "you're my life".
As soon as the words left my lips I began to be instantly transported back in time. I went back nearly ten years in a fraction of a second, so fast it was disorienting. It was hard to not fall over, I was dizzy and suddenly felt cold and wet. It was cold and bitter, must have been early November. It smelled like Scotland...yes, it was the street Rene and I lived on as newlyweds in Bonnybridge, Scotland. It was pitch dark, about 4 in the morning. Bitter cold, yet I was barely dressed. Why was I out at this unsociable hour?
And so wet. My knees, and my cheeks were drenched. The ground was wet from rain and I was kneeling on the ground, aware that I was making a ridiculous scene in this quiet neighborhood. And I really didn't care what they thought of me. The boundaries that surrounded my life were coming completely undone. I was screaming at the top of my lungs, heaving with the effort, in a state of utter panic and screaming as loud as I could,
"Please God, NO! Please God, nooooooo! She's my life. She's my life!!!"
I knew it was probably too late. She had gone far too long without taking a breath. I was sure I had heard her making a noise, I would hold onto that slither of hope as though I were grasping a root as I plummeted off a cliff. Plus, I had seen Reinhard Bonnke on tv, raising someone from the dead. And Jesus had raised Lazarus, so it could be done.
And if anyone deserved to be raised, it was this sweet, perfect daughter of mine. She had only had 10 weeks on this Earth so far, and had already had a huge impact on it. Certainly on her father and I, on her grandparents. She was a little piece of perfection. And I knew she would be a fantastic mother one day, she still hadn't had that chance yet. There's no way God could let this happen. Not with her whole future ahead of her. So I pleaded and I begged and I screamed and I wept and I threw a big fat temper tantrum right there in my street, at 4am on a cold November Friday morning.
Then I saw the flashing lights finally come up my street, and I ran back to my home, suddenly aware of how far away from it I had traveled. I saw a man from our church run out of the ambulance and I knew this was my best hope. His equipment couldn't save her now, but God could. I didn't care what tubes he would poke in her or what he'd pump into her lungs. I had no faith in them. So I continued at the volume I had used on the street and I begged him, completely undignified, "Danny, YOU HAVE TO PRAY! PLEASE PRAY!!"
But I watched him carry her to the ambulance, and we followed, and I saw him refuse to give up trying, but in his eyes I read that he knew she wasn't coming back. He would continue to try the whole journey, which was a 20 minute journey that took days. I'm sure it was days. Many of them.
Half way there I felt a peace wash over me. As though I felt her spirit leave this world, and look back at me and wink. I knew she was going somewhere amazing, and I knew I was going to follow her. I didn't feel any guilt over the matter, I didn't feel like it would be wrong or irresponsible, I thought perhaps after we got out of the hospital Rene and I would go take a drive in the car into a quarry or some place from which we would not return. I wasn't sure how we'd do it, but I was pretty sure he'd want to join me. And it felt wonderful, a deep peace at the thought of going where she was going.
From the moment her little feet slid out of my body and she was placed low on my abdomen while they untangled her, and in my exhausted, bewildered state, I held onto her body for dear life, I lived to protect her. She was everything. That moment my future became completely entwined in her.
Fused together inseparably. I would sometimes stare at her and imagine her at all sorts of ages and stages, as a child, a teenager, a mother, an old woman. Any hopes I had for my own future were all found in her. There was no way to remove her from it. There never will be. So it was completely natural to me that I would take my life since she had lost hers. Staying here where she wasn't, made no sense and I was certain everyone would understand and even expect it.
If we were to find an important building, like an embassy or a prison or some other high security facility - if we were to find such a place raided, windows smashed, recently abandoned, we would be shocked. It would make the news. But it if were to happen in the middle of an apocalypse, while far more terrible things were going on all around, while the foundations of the earth were caving in and the air was thick with blood red smog and corpses littered the earth and the sky itself was cracking open, we wouldn't even bat an eyelid at the state of the embassy. Out of context I knew suicide was not something to be considered. But the entire world was coming to an end here. A mother does not bury her own daughter. Surely some important law of physics was being broken and the whole universe was going to collapse. Taking my life would be entirely appropriate given the context.
So a few blurs later, when the man in a white coat told us he was sorry, there was nothing he could do, and my husband threw his whole body into the arms of his own father and vomited in the hallway, I sat still and dived into this Dr's crystal blue eyes as though swimming through refreshing cool waters in July. I couldn't really make out any of his words and everything around me became a smudged fuzz, but those eyes were clear and crisp. And I knew everything would be ok. I was going to go to heaven!
I suspect my family and close friends anticipated I'd feel this way because they made a combined effort to ensure Rene and I were never left alone for the next few weeks. Mum gave up her bed for us to sleep, we had chauffeurs to the store, escorts back to our house to dispose of diapers and loved ones to hold us while we crumbled in fits of sobs, listening to her little giraffe mobile that she had so adored, chiming, "you are my sunshine" to nobody.
We had people to confide in when we heard her ghost cry out to us, or when I woke with engorged breasts and instinctively panicked that she hadn't eaten all night and then had to lose her all over again. Just as I had done the 4 proceeding days. We were surrounded with love and support and weren't left alone.
Well, we were left alone long enough to conceive Kaya, who's dates we're still uncertain of. But it was sometime very close to her sister's death, on one side or the other of it. I stared at the 2 pink lines in shock, bewilderment, excitement, fear and hope. And suddenly, I was grounded. Heather gave me wings to soar above it all and Kaya gave me the roots to bloom a bit here before I take flight someday.
And with that memory I began to spiral back to 2011, back to the YMCA where I leaned against a wall to stop from falling, I looked at this little fuzzy head at my bosom, I inhaled the fragrance of new life and I used all my might to fight off the drops of salt water that tried to force themselves out of my eyes and onto my cheeks. 5 of them overwhelmed me and I wiped them quickly, aware of strangers' eyes on me, trying to make sense of a fat dreadhead crying in the corridor. I glanced through the window and saw Lana spinning and dancing to her own instruction while the rest of the class followed the teacher's steps. I looked toward the room where Daddy blushed and caught his breath trying to swing kick while Kaya blocked it. I felt the hushed pounding of my baby's heart against my body while his chest rose and fell. I had to sit down as I was overcome with awe at how my life has incredibly turned around in the past 10 years. I have such loss and such gain. God did not answer my pleading that cold November in the dark, at least not in the way I wanted him to. But he protected me through it all, preserved me, held me, comforted me and has given me more than I could have envisioned back then.
I caught sight of my reflection in the glass. My eyes met the reflection of my son's, all cozy in my sling. He exposed two big rows of gums in a warming grin and I smiled back. He's my life. They all are. I am so thankful.