I let life pile up. I strategically shuffled the layers of it over the pain. Never completely hiding it but dulling it's effects. That's unwise, letting the grief rise up with no where to go. I shut the door on her nursery and let a thin layer of dust cover my journal.
Then the universe gently nudged my heart and gave the grief a chance to surface. Once the light hit it there was crying and pain , oh the pain. I stopped struggling and let it seep out. A healthy does of reality. I sometimes tell Beau, I can't believe our daughter died. It's so traumatic that I think your brain sometimes helps the burden. Masking the pain a bit with disillusion, like a bad dream feeling. The rest was my fault, trying unsuccessfully to smoother it.
I feel better. Naming the grief, giving it the time and attention it deserved.
Our Piper girl's brick was laid in the butterfly garden at the children's hospital, where I work. Loads of good people who care for us and our daughter rallied and had that brick placed as a permanent memorial.
Forever Loved. Forever is without end. It's appealing to think that we will love her beyond our earthly lives and it scares the heck out of me that I will live with the pain of my child's death until the day my soul joins her for a sunny picnic.
The magnitude of support I continue to receive is the strong foundation for my stability. I think it's helpful to have some tangible things in remembrance of Piper. It makes my grief purposeful, giving it a place to reside. In the necklace I wear with her tiny handprint, Beau's leather bracelet with her initials, the scholarship, the tiny gift that was given in honor of our friend's Mom, and so on. Her gold urn and birth announcement both gifted, are on display in our living room. It's my niece wearing Pipe's bows. Our loved ones continue to come up with creative ways to weave my child's legacy.
That brick was a reminder. Forever. As scary as that is, I won't fight it, the grief will ebb and flow, sometimes overwhelming and other times a distant roar. If you shove it down too long, you will drown. Don't let grief sneak up on you. Head it off with purpose.
Reat easy my Piper girl, you are Forever Loved.
It's a seemingly appropriate question to ask a 31 year old, healthy, happy married woman. I will answer that question with "Yes, I have a daughter who passed away". Personal questions get personal answers. I'll let you navigate the silence that follow because I need to say it. I don't easily offend, especially at social niceties. I'll say it matter of fact, in a practiced manner and on good days in the absence of the ugly cry.
Now I've bonded with other mothers who have experienced child loss and this is one of the most talked about subjects. Several moms expecting baby after a loss face that question in another form. "Is this your first?" Thanks to free will and a certain amount of sass, I've heard this question answered several ways ranging from the total truth to a simple 'yes'. Yes, because they don't want to explain to the cashier at Target that they are barely hanging in there as they are managing a pregnancy after loss. Or there is twenty people behind them. There is no handbook. No right or wrong.
I have had patients or less familiar acquaintances ask this innocent social question. Once, I tried to say "no" to a new hair stylist because I really didn't want to explain while trapped in a smock with wet hair how I had this beautiful little girl who died in July. It made me feel ill and like a liar, so out came the whole story in great detail. The horror on her face was a mirror reflection of my feelings.
Will you try again?
Now, that is a question that I have no cookie cutter answer. I mumbled something and sweated in my smock. It's not often I've been asked by a stranger to divulge my very private um life. I'm already a mother and I am hopeful that we will add to our family, one way or another. That verbiage, try again, somehow doesn't sit well with me. I've really had to think of why it's so bothersome and here's what I think. Another child is not a fix nor is Piper an error to eradicate. I cannot try again because my daughter was a unique soul. There will never be another Piper, just the one.
I choose to believe people are well meaning and in that particular case recovering from some intense information but from my new perspective I wanted to share something with you. Maybe to give someone else the pause-reflect that I'm learning.
Beyond being a mother to a stillborn child there are many types of women. Those who choose not to have children. Those who cannot have children. Women who choose to adopt, foster and care for children not biologically their own. Women with fertility issues, recurrent miscarriages and neonatal loss. Families who choose to have ten children because they've always wanted a big family. Blended families. The list goes on.
Perhaps the weather is a safer topic? Or maybe politics? If you've asked that question, fear not. Just a loving reminder that you never know another persons journey. Some social niceties may unknowingly sting. If you ask me you may get an earful then we can cry together.
Rest easy, my darling girl.
Piper Kai Bennett
I will scream, sing and share her story may it be short. Our only child was born still at 36 weeks secondary to an umbilical cord accident. This is our journey about choosing life rather than existence.