A little over a year later we buried Lily and I remember the funeral director actually saying, "This is the smallest casket we have," and it was smaller than the one I had seen the previous year.
But he lied.
There is one smaller and it's the one we used to bury another child seven months ago.
Our littlest Clare Therese.
We won't know until Heaven if she is a she or a he. I didn't have any premonition until they told me she no longer had a heartbeat and then girl names started to flood my mind. Maybe it's because I associate death with girls now. Or the thought of losing a brother for Ted was just too much to bear.
It does give me a sliver of peace to imagine Lily with her sister in Heaven, so maybe that's why my mind assumes girl.
Anyway it doesn't really matter. Our baby is dead. Boy or girl. Dead.
I went into the ultrasound nervous. I wasn't nervous until that day. I had felt nothing but immense peace since the moment I found out I was pregnant again. Because this baby's story was perfect. From the day I found out (Good Friday), to her due date (today) two weeks after Lily's 2nd birthday. She was my redemption song.
But on the way there, I started to get more anxious. For some reason tears started to threaten my eyes. And then I heard a whisper, "It's ok. I'm here for you mama." My Lily. Whispering in her mama's ear.
It's so surreal when you really think about the reality that your daughter's wisdom at 18 months surpasses your 37 years.
I thought she was whispering it me because I was anxious and nervous. I thought she was whispering to me because she knew my mind always goes to her ultrasound when I found out I wouldn't get to keep her. But now I know, she was whispering it me because her sister was right beside her.
I knew before the nurse said anything, but I didn't want to say. I wanted to be wrong. I wanted to keep pretending we were finally getting redemption in the form of a new life. I know what an 8 week ultrasound should look like. And I was hoping eight weeks was far enough to see a little round head to give us some reassurance. Not seeing a heartbeat wasn't even close to my radar.
I knew I should have seen a flickering heart. But it wasn't there. I knew even more when she asked, "Are you sure about your dates?"
My words, "Yes," with a sinking feeling in my stomach and the tears remembered this place. Even if I was off two weeks there should have been a flicker.
And then she said it. "I can't find a heartbeat." Despair immediately washed over me. The same despair I was met with almost two years before. The same sinking feeling that leaves you gasping for breath and crying out in agony. The same feeling I had when they said, "Anencephaly."
I honestly never thought it would feel the same. But it was...the exact same absence of hope that I will never forget. It didn't matter that I was only eight weeks along. Maybe it did to other people, but it didn't matter to me.
I had dreams for this child.
And I dreamed those dreams again last night.
I dreamed of her all night long. Even when I woke up and kept trying not to, I fell back asleep dreaming about her. I dreamed how different this day was supposed to be. That she should be in my arms for the world to see, instead of just in my heart where no one can see her. I dreamed that Ted would finally get to wake up on Christmas morning with one of his siblings. I dreamed that he would pick out the sweetest little stuffed animal for her instead of another ornament for his dead sister's tree.
I had the same dream nine months ago before I even knew she was mine.
Some days there are just too many uncertainties this side of Heaven and today they just feel like too much to bear.
I'm weary and I'm tired. I'm tired of hoping, tired of trying, tired of begging for this month to be different. Tired of surrendering the will I want for the will God apparently seems to have in store for us.
I'm tired of people telling me it will happen. I'm tired from all the pregnant bellies and announcements of new babies that aren't mine.
I prayed and wished and hoped and dreamed for this baby...probably more than all the rest and it just didn't matter. People want to tell you to just keep hoping or to pray harder, and part of me just has to laugh at that. Because there is no prayer stronger than a mother's prayer for her children.
And if there is a stronger prayer, it's the prayer of a grieving mother.
When I first looked at my phone this dreaded morning, a friend had shared this on Instagram. And I know it was meant just for me. I needed this reminder on yet another day that triggers deep grief.
My sweet Lily Frances and littlest Clare Therese...please pray for your mommy, I miss you so, so, so much.