My phone tells me it’s 2:59 am.
Slowly, I crawl out of bed and pad softly to the bathroom.
I feel wide awake when I come back, so I sit on the edge of the bed and stare at the floor.
I stare at the floor and feel the heavy emptiness of grief.
She is gone and she is all I can think about.
I pick up her fleecy soft elephant blanket, the first blanket we wrapped around her tiny newborn body and the blanket I’ve been sleeping with since she left us.
Tears slide silently down my cheeks and I sit hunched over in the dark silence of night.
I keep telling Ryan that I just want her back. “How do I move on?” I ask this a hundred times a day, or more.
“I don’t know,” he always says and as far as I’m concerned there are too many I-don’t-knows in this story.
Mother’s Day comes then, and I watch the sun rise through my bedroom window, just missing her.
My Cub runs around the bed and right up to my face, nose-to-nose: “Heeeey, mom.” His face splits into a big smile and I find myself smiling right back.
“Can I have a huggle?” I say, and he grins wider.
“Shore!” He replies and wraps his little arms around my neck.
I am so glad to be his mom.
For the first time in four days, I leave the house. We drive down to the high school and I start a new journey ~ running.
I am not a runner, but I’m going to do this running thing and come July, I’m going to run that fundraiser 5K for Grady’s Decision, a ministry devoted to helping NICU families. I’m going to run it for our girl who ran a 40-day marathon of her own in the NICU.
So I run the track and then let Ryan do some running of his own. Leo, our Cub, takes off after his dad. He wants to be just like his Daddy, and our boy runs for almost 3/4 of a mile, without a break, smiling all the way.
I almost laugh for the sheer delight on his face and the joy he has brought our lives.
We go for ice cream then and I eat a free Mother’s Day sundae. When we start to drive home, I ask Ryan if we can please just drive around. “I’m not ready to go home yet,” I say. So we aimlessly drive the countryside and I stare silently out the window and think no coherent thought but grief.
Mother’s Day came and Mother’s Day went, and Monday morning there is a knock on my door and a stranger on my porch.
I am trying to clean away my sadness, background music playing far too loudly and I am just a sight to be seen, but I push open the front door and the man smiles and hands me the most beautiful bouquet of flowers I have ever seen. When I open the card it reads, “To Mommy Renee”, and I can’t even read the rest of the note for the tears that fill my eyes and spill over.
1 John 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.”
When we said yes to Vaeh, we knew she would not be with us forever. As much as we miss her now and as much as we want her to always be with us, saying yes to her little life – yes we will care for her and provide for her and love her as our own – was always simply just about loving her…because of Him, who loved us first and gave us life.
And part of loving Vaeh and being family with her, is loving Vaeh’s mommy and being family with her. We love, because He first loved us.
My heart was never more splintered or shattered than it was the day I watched her drive down the road without me. The day one of the most beautiful chapters of my life ended. The day I walked back through the blue door of my little townhouse and hyperventilated grief till I fell asleep exhausted.
I have no idea how to begin again.
I have no words.
I don’t know how to pray. My heart longs to have her back in my arms, here, in our home. And yet, I love her mama too and I believe that her mama is beginning again. I saw it on the day she had to leave her newborn girl, in her eyes spilling over with her own mother grief, how she loves her baby. I was there when she gave birth, holding her hand and cheering her on, and there was something about sharing that sacred moment, that knitted my heart with hers, a sisterhood of sorts.
This whole wide world is twisted over with grief and bent over with sadness, and I just ache.
And the flowers come, with the note from my little girl. And her Grandma tells me that they all want us to stay in her life. And her mommy calls me on Mother’s Day and leaves me a message to have a happy day.
I feel it in the air, how the page is turning, how the chapter has ended but the story continues, and maybe all this is the true miracle of His kingdom coming today, how the mercies of God are new every morning, and how great is His faithfulness.