The night I lost my baby, I fell into a fitful sleep, soaked in tears and confusion. I dreamed briefly that we had a baby girl, and that her name was Lily. I woke to my husband staring out the window at fireflies fading into the trees.
I have attached my mind and my heart to this, and have since thought of my child as Lily, a name we had never even considered for our baby. At that moment, while my heart was beating out a dreadful song of loss, staring into the dark as fireflies winked back, fading into the trees, I felt acknowledged. I felt connected. It felt like a message to me, from the earth, form our child. It felt like a comfort. Are things going to be ok? Is our baby ok? Does this little smile from the darkness mean maybe she knows how much I love her?
It felt like something to attach to. I’ve worn a necklace with a firefly on it since then (admittedly, it’s a lady bug but it’s the closest I’ve got), I’ve spoken of our child as Lily. I’ve had a feeling, some sort of looming idea that she has to be somewhere, existing, her energy fed into the world I am now living in.
When I use her name, people avert their eyes. Even my husband disapproves. He doesn’t want to be so connected. People do not feel comfortable with a name and a personality attached to a child that no one got to meet. But she was there. She existed. She only lived in me, but we have the ultrasound photos to prove she was real. Why is it so uncomfortable to others to name her?
I can accept the distance people need to create. I can accept when people hear me talk about hoping she is somewhere in the great big universe, being held, loved, kept safe, knowing her mother will be connected to her always, and they think, well that’s just a coping mechanism. I’ve always been a skeptic. I’ve been an advocate of science and tangible proof. I don’t speak of religion because whatever connection I may have with God is undefinable, it exists without a label, and it involves confusion and doubt a great deal of the time. God and prayer have usually only been spoken aloud in times of desperation. So, how can I suddenly accept this fantastical theory that the child no one knew, the baby connected only to me, is infused somehow into the world around me?
It’s because I have to. I have to feel her somehow. I have to feel a connection because letting go and moving on seems more painful than constantly recalling what I’ve lost. Holding on to this idea does not mean sobbing day in and day out anymore. It does not mean succumbing to sleep to avoid thinking of her. It does not mean walking around the house like a zombie.
It means taking a deep breath in the sun. Feeling the wind on my face and knowing she’s with me. It means staring out over the water and searching for the beauty in life, the places of calm and of peace, and feeling like a tiny part of what she means to me is connected to those moments.
It makes the world uncomfortable to watch a person change from the effects of grief. I am becoming someone new. Even in the few short weeks I’ve been struggling under the weight of this ordeal, my values have changed, my needs have changed, my heart is not what it once was. I have a desire for quiet. Solitude. Calm. I have a desire to be outside, to sit in nature and breathe it in. I want to sit quietly, with my eyes closed, feeling my breaths move in and out, hearing the thump of my heart beating in my ears and absorb some peace from the world.
So maybe I’m imagining a little girl named Lily who never got to be. Maybe I’m dreaming of holding her in my arms one day, while I listen to the rustling of the leaves. Maybe I’m feeling her little heart beating next to mine as I gaze over sunlit fields. Who does it hurt?