June 8, 2011

The Day We Said Goodbye and She Rode Around the City Alone



[march 25, 2011]

It was 2am and everything was a blur. My face was soaked with tears, my eyes were red and blotchy, my heart felt relieved and broken all at once. Kari lived, Margot died.

A nurse waited outside our door with a baby cart from labor and delivery. Her eyes were kind and her smile dripped with empathy, the raised corners of her thin lips said everything that needed to be said. I’m so sorry.

We took some pictures with Margot. We said things to her. We kissed her cheeks. And then it was time. I picked up her swaddled body, pressed her against my chest and walked out to the nurse. She stood off to the side as I gingerly placed my daughter in the cart.

As Margot rolled away, I turned back towards our room, towards my wife who was pushing her morphine button with one hand and waiting for my hand with the other. And that was that. She was gone.

There was little sleep that night. I could physically feel the brokenness of my heart, rapid beats interspersed with slow, monotonous pumping. It felt like it was fragmented into three parts and spread throughout the city. One piece was at home with Stella, who was sleeping peacefully, innocence still intact. One piece with my Kari, the first to get my heart a decade earlier. And one piece went rolling away with Margot, slowly cracking as it followed her down the halls toward the morgue.

As a father to Stella, I have been there, with her, almost every step of the way from the very first ultrasound to last night, when we sang row your boat in our funny voices before bedtime. We took baths together when she was a baby and we went to the doctor together for shots. I was there for her first words and first steps and first friendships. She is simply always in our care, or in the hands of our family or housemates or friends. She has never been alone in her life, she has never felt a moment of being lost.

But there Margot went, off without us, alone for the first time after only nine hours in the world. Her father was missing and she was alone and this still pains me to no end.

I wish I could have rolled away with her that night, my hands on her cheek and chest. I wish I could have sat by her in the morgue. I wish I could have held her as she rode to the clinic for surgery. I wish I could have watched over her as they opened her heart and removed her valves. I wish I could have told the coroner her tragic story as he tried to make sense of her death. I wish I could have been on the freeways with her, roaming around Los Angeles, from clinic to hospital to funeral home to cremation center. I wish I could have been there when she was cremated and I wish her sacred ashes were never in the hands of impassive strangers.

The irony in all these wishes is that she has always been here with me. For somewhere that night, perhaps after I finally fell asleep, her presence filled that cracked piece of my heart that followed her down the hall and made it’s way back to me.

20 comments:

slaters said...

i just wanted to let you know that i have followed along with everything that has happened to you and your family. i knew kari when we were kids. and wanted to let you know that even though i can have no idea how devastating it would be to lose your child , i do not live with it every moment as you do , we will not forget her .

Gwen said...

Oh Josh... I wish, I wish, too. I miss watching her be a part of your lives. A part of ours.

My heart weeps. My eyes are shedding tears. Oh, how I wish...

still life angie said...

This post is breathtaking. Wow. It touches that part in me that has ached for two years and almost six months. It has ached for so long I don't always notice the pain. It still brings tears to my eyes to think of that moment. Thank you for reminding me of that moment. Sometimes I have to remind myself that the ache is love. Thinking of you and Kari right now. xo

Josh said...

Thanks Angie for the comment and the reminder that this ache, this longing, is simply love. It's hard to see it this way through the tears and pain sometimes.

susan allgaier said...

Your words are so deeply moving and make sense to one who has also exoerienced a significant loss. When you have the time please look at this website. The insight of loss and grief also provided such clarity to me when I needed it. Perhaps it will offer that to you also. Thank you for sharing your journey.
http://www.therombergsconnection.com/meetings/2007-07-20/Libba_Presentation/Libba_Presentation.html

Amanda said...

Lots of tears as I read this post. I ache for you all.

Lori Wells said...

WOW!

Sara Pemberton said...

I type and erase then type and erase. I've started to leave long notes here then I decide I'm saying too much but then leaving something short is not enough. So I never write anything. Nothing I say is ever good enough or heartfelt enough to express how sad I am that Margot's not here and that you and Kari are so broken. I hurt for you and pray for you with all my heart.

Hope's Mama said...

Stunned speechless by this post. I too remember thinking "I just want to be with her". And not just in the hospital room, rocking her lifeless body in my arms, but at the morgue, at the funeral home, riding in the back of the car with her to the cemetery. I hated that for an entire week between her birth and burial, I really had no idea where she was, yet I knew her body was still here on this earth.
Like Angie said, you've made me scratch an itch I no longer get to scratch as often these days. Time has dragged me forward, but I was glad to read here today and take a trip down (very sad) memory lane.
xo

Josh said...

Thank-you Sara and others for your kind, beautiful words. I feel like I keep saying this, but these comments and messages via email and Facebook mean so much to us.

Sally, I'm so glad this post meant something to you, even if the memory is a painful one. I often feel this same way when I read other babyloss parents writing about everything (and there is so much to write about).

The Momma said...

Another stranger here who keeps seeking for "right words." A long time reader of your blog, I am offering the only thing I know to do in these moments: To be present; to keep reading; to keep listening to your voice; to share these moments with you. My life has been touched by Margot through this space. Touched deeply. I find my prayers have no "right words" either. I am only briefly comforted by the ancient Word that the Spirit understands our groanings that are too deep for words.

claire said...

I think about you, Kari & Stella everyday. It may seem like the world around you keeps turning and people have gone about their business with time marching on for them, while your world is stopped. Please know there are so many behind you, next to you and near you that feel for your broken hearts, broken hopes and sadness. We check your blog everyday, say prayers for you everyday, think of you everyday and send love to Margot everyday.

Anonymous said...

http://forumforgrievingdads.forumotion.com/

Josh saw this link and I think I remembered you saying something about where are all the dad's sharing about their grief. This is for men only!

Corrie said...

Josh, this is a note from the author of a book I read. She lost her son to cancer and while reading this I thought of you and Kari. "Grieving, I think, is a lot like that-a wild, agonizing, bewildering, yet sometimes glorious ride into the deeper, more essential aspects of self and humanity. It is also, I believe, a ride with no end in sight." "For every joy that passes, something beautiful remains. That statement beckons me ever onward in my quest to survive and, finally, to begin to heal." I pray for the both of you as you are on this journey that you didn't ask for, that you are able to seek His face and He begins to heal your hearts when the time is right.

Melissa said...

I completely feel your pain. My daughter passed away in February and I suffered from HELLP. I was in a coma for the first 4 days, and when I awoke it tortured me that she was alone in the morgue, alone going to be cremated, alone when she was cremated. It still hurts. It still feels like I should have done something. Know you are not alone in your pain, others are right along side you.

Anonymous said...

Me again. A stranger, a parent whose heart aches for you and Kari. Your touching posts always leave me with the same thought amidst the tears, how lucky the three of you are to have each other in the flesh and Margot's sweet soul is so blessed to have your love all around her.

Anonymous said...

Oh Josh. We wish along with you. My heart and soul and whole being aches for you all. Love you always.
Joni

loribeth said...

Found your blog via Angie & Glow in the Woods. You are an amazing writer -- but I am so very sorry that we are coming to know that because you lost your daughter. I'm glad you are finding some comfort in the blogosphere.

Em said...

My heart breaks for you. Just crumbles.

Terry said...

hi, this is weird, but i read your blog, have read it for almost two years now. i found it after a friend of mine had a miscarriage and i sort of fumbled around reading first her blog and then other blogs about babylost people. anyways, i found yours back then, and i just wanted to let you know how deeply touching your writing is about your lost daughter. you are a very talented writer. i have never lost a baby, but i have two young children and, of course, any parent lives in fear from very early on that something will happen to them. this might sound bad, but reading about the loss of your daughter has helped me understand better what i have with my two children, the nature of life and loss and a parents love and what it all means. i've always meant to write a comment, but thought, "who the hell am i?" some stranger that doesn't even know you. i just wanted to say that your writing has meant a lot to me. thank you for being so honest and putting it out there.

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