Shortly after Cora died, I started a “Dear Cora” journal because I thought it would be helpful to write to her and share my thoughts and feelings. It is very therapeutic, but it is usually for my eyes only. Today, however, I sat down and wrote to her and, when I finished reading the entry, I felt that it needed to be shared with the world. Our daughter had a profound effect on our lives and the changes that are taking place in me are sometimes really, really positive. I just wanted to share today’s positive change with you in hopes that it may have a positive change in others.
It was on this date 13 years ago that I married the wrong man. I knew he was the wrong man for me, but I was three months pregnant with his son and suffering from pregnancy-induced irrationality, so I went ahead and married a man I didn’t love. Nearly three months later, on November 17, 1997, your big brother, Kieran Riley, came along, much too soon, and he too became an angel baby like you. The difference between you and your brother is that he was only 23.5 weeks old and there was just no way he was ready to live in this world. His father and I knew, hours and hours before he was born, that he wouldn’t survive. I had nearly 12 hours to process that information and to come to terms with his impending death before we welcomed him into the world. His little heart beat for only a short while and then he grew some angel baby wings and flew away.
At the time, I was torn between being grateful that he didn’t live (I know how terrible that sounds) and devastated about his loss. I was so young, in a marriage that never should have happened, and watching my life head in a direction that would not have been conducive to raising a child in a loving, productive environment. I didn’t know how to grieve because, at that point, I didn’t have much experience with death, so I pushed my memories of Kieran way down into a corner of my psyche and I locked them away. As fate would have it, my life took on an entirely new and unexpected direction and, years later, I started dating your daddy and figured out what real love was all about.
This morning I was thinking about Kieran and trying to remember everything about him. I am sad because I pushed memories of him so far down for so long that I can barely recall what he looked like, other than that he was tiny, perfect and looked bruised all over. The strange thing is that, even though I can’t remember him clearly, I still think about him all the time. After he died, the hospital staff took polaroids of him, but I can’t find them anywhere. I wish I could remember more, but what I remember is enough to ensure I’ll never forget him and, in my mind, that’s enough.
You, on the other hand, are the complete opposite of your brother. I remember everything about you. Your big hands and adorable “Johnson” feet. Your beautiful, huge and squishy lips. I remember how your fingers felt wrapped around my finger and how you felt in my arms. I remember the feel of your soft skin and your silky hair – so much of it and so curly, like your daddy’s. I remember the beautiful sound of your tiny, soft cries when you first graced us with your presence and how your little face screwed up in anger when the NICU team was assessing you.
I remember how hot your head and feet were when I would cup them in my hands and sing to you, trying to get your vitals to stabilize. And I remember the one and only time that you opened your eyes and looked up at me while you squeezed my finger. You seemed so strong that I thought nothing would ever take you from us.
I also remember how your eyes became blank and empty a few hours before you left us and how your daddy had to look away until the nurse closed your eyes because he couldn’t bear the thought of you already being gone. I remember looking down at your beautiful, but extremely swollen face as you were dying in my arms and I remember thinking that no person should have to lose two babies in one lifetime. I remember knowing, instinctively, that this time was different and that it was going to change me completely and that my life would never be close to the same again.
I remember absolutely everything about you and our brief time together – all of the pain, beauty, joy, heartbreak, devastation and grief. I remember it all so vividly, but what I remember the most is love. A love so joyous that it radiated through me – all-encompassing – and into your daddy, too, because we finally had the family that we had been dreaming of for years and years.
If I forget everything else about our experience with you – your hands, your feet, those lips, the feel of your soft skin and cheek against my lips; the pain and all the other emotions of bearing and then losing a child – I’m going to cling to the love until I reach my dying breath. I’m hanging onto that love, my little one, because you gave it to me and it was the greatest gift I’ve ever received.
I’m going to use this gift you gave us and continue to spread the love you’ve already started to spread around. For if there is anything I have learned through this entire tragic experience, it’s that so many of the world’s problems and angst could be healed if we’d all just give more love.
Thank you for your love, Cora Jane. We miss you so much. xo Mommy.
Have a good Monday, my friends. I wish you all enough…