Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Danielle's Memory: A Post Dedicated to My Family and Friends

I was on a getaway with some girlfriends this past weekend... if you weren't already aware from the abundant photos that were posted by my friends on social media throughout the course of the weekend! It was a time of relaxing away from our mom duties and our jobs, but it was also a time of sharing, reflection, and healing for some of us. I can't tell the other ladies' stories, but I can tell mine.

Photo courtesy of Amanda Stombaugh
Through the loss of Danielle, I have found that there are those that remember her and hold her very closely in their hearts, and there are those that forget about her or leave her "out" of our family, whether intentionally or unintentionally. I have never blamed or been angry with the latter group, but it has stung my heart. I have forgiven them, but just like the pain of losing a child never fully goes away, that sting in my heart doesn't fully go away either. This post isn't about those people though. This post is about the first group. The people who remember her at times I wouldn't expect them to remember her. Those are the people that I know also hold me closely in their hearts.

Sometimes I am amazed at the lives my daughter touched in only two short days. From the people who showed up at funeral, because they were following the updates on her throughout my pregnancy, yet we hadn't talked in several years, to those who I barely even knew during her short life who have remembered her in various ways, and to those who have donated in her memory to Faith's Lodge when I didn't expect them to donate, I am continually touched by their actions.

One of my friends brings her up in conversation with me from time to time. And this weekend was one of those times. Sometimes it only brings smiles to my face, but sometimes it also brings tears to my eyes. But the great thing is, these friends aren't afraid to cry with me. On a couple occasions, we talked about our grief journeys, with one of our friends still being very raw with some of her emotions on a tragedy in her life. I shared this story of my grief with my friends...

... there was one day where I couldn't bear the thought of not holding my child. My arms ached they were so empty. It really becomes a physical pain. I wanted so badly for them to be holding my child, my baby girl. I went upstairs, with the soreness from my c-section still lingering. I went in her bedroom, still set up and waiting for her, and shut the door. I sat down in the rocking chair, wrapped the nursing pillow around my tummy, and grabbed, what we now refer to as, the Danni Bear (It is a bear that plays a recording of her heartbeat that was taken at one of her ultrasounds). I rocked with the Danni Bear, clinging closely to her, to it, and sobbed quietly, so Adam wouldn't hear me. But, he eventually did find me. He didn't like seeing me so hurt. He was hurting too, but much stronger than I am. He tried to get me out of the room, thinking that if I were out of that physical space, that I would be better. Of course, that's not how grief works, and he knew that...

Of course, I started getting tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat as I told this story. And my most of my friends did too. They don't remember her as I, her mother who carried her for 9 months remember her growing within, and nursing her in my arms, but just as she touched my heart so deeply, she touched their hearts as well. For these friends, and for our family that has remembered her by visiting her grave, and leaving flowers or praying for her, I am eternally grateful that God placed you in my life. Just as I am thankful that He gave us Danielle, even if it was only for two days.

As we approach her birth and death days, we are participating in Hope Walks & Rolls again this year in memory of her. If you would like to participate, but haven't signed up yet, please do so here and select her team. If you can't join us, but would like to donate, please do so here. And thank you all for remembering her. It really does touch both my heart and Adam's.