Saturday, March 7, 2015

On looking for my daughter

Many people have given us angel ornaments for Lydie's tree and I love them, but I'm not one of those mamas who refers to my dead daughter as my "angel."  And I don't like when others refer to me as "an angel mommy."  I've tried to figure out my aversion to the angel concept.  First and foremost, I don't find it comforting.  It insinuates that Lydie is "in a better place" when I think the best place for her is home with her family.  It also insinuates that my daughter is taking care of me, when it is supposed to be the other way around.  I am supposed to take care of her.  I don't want my daughter to have so much responsibility.

So many other parents I've met through this journey find other signs from their children.  In the way of cardinals or bumblebees or hearts.

When I hear these stories, a part of me is jealous.   I want Lydie to communicate with me through cardinals or bumblebees or hearts! I want to communicate with her any way I can.

Other parents talk of how they can feel their children's presence.  And I wish, wish, wish, and hope I can feel Lydie.  And Lydie can feel me.  That when we light our candle every evening and each of us, including Benjamin, says, "I love you, Lydie," she's with us and can feel our love.  But I don't know.

The other night, cuddled up with Ben in his glider, reading bedtime stories, I glanced out his window.  A full moon and one bright, shining star.  Only one.  I pointed to it, and Ben became mesmerized.  "Think that's Lydie up there?" I asked Ben and Justin.

It's a nice concept.  It's a beautiful concept, actually.  And though I proposed the idea, I don't quite buy it.  I'm too practical, too much of a realist.  I scoff at myself.  I question.

One of my favorites of Lydie's ornaments, given to us from my best friend Kate's mom.  It reads, "Lydia... your star will shine down from heaven always."

It's like the dream I had about six weeks after Lydie died.
My uncle and godfather, who was 52 when he died from a sudden heart attack, was suddenly there.  All my aunts, uncles, and cousins are jostling each other, trying to see him, trying to talk to him, knowing full well that he is dead and should not be standing there.  I push my way through them all, and start yelling, "Uncle Mart!  Uncle Mart!"  I finally catch his attention, and he looks at me.  "My daughter?" I ask.  "She's there," he responds.

It was the most beautiful and comforting dream I've ever had in my life.  I woke up breathless and practically in tears.

And then I started to question it.  I wondered if I wanted so badly to believe that Lydie is in heaven that I asked for this dream, I ordered it up.  I wondered if I was reading too much into it.

And then I wondered why I couldn't just let it be what it was.  A dream that indicated that my daughter is in heaven.  A dream that brings me great comfort.

Why do I have to question it all so much?  Why can't I just look at a star, a bright shining star, the only one in the sky, and believe it is Lydie looking down on us?   Why can't I light her candle and feel her presence?  Why can't I talk to her and believe she hears me?

Why do I have to be such a goddamn cynic?

Practicality has always been a strength of mine and suddenly it feels like a huge burden.

In college, I worked as a physics tutor.  Physics makes sense to me.  Physics is practical.  Which is why I love this:

"According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you're just less orderly."

So according to physics, Lydie is out there, somewhere.

But where?

I told Lydie in the letter I read at her memorial that she's part of me.  She was part of me for 34 weeks, and she's part of me now.  I was pleased to read that I was correct:

It’s now known that cells from a developing fetus cross the placenta, allowing the baby’s DNA to become part of the mother’s body.  These fetal cells persist in a woman’s body into her old age. (If she has been pregnant with a male child it’s likely she’ll have some Y-chromosomes drifting around for a few decades too). This is true even if the baby she carried didn’t live to be born. The cells of that child stay with her, resonating in ways that mothers have known intuitively throughout time.

It takes the idea of my favorite poem, "i carry your heart" by e.e. cummings to a whole new level.  Lydie, I carry your heart, and I also carry your DNA.

Is that enough?

It doesn't feel like it.

So then what?  How can I stop being so freaking practical and start feeling my girl around me?  How can I find my signs?  How can embrace the idea that her spirit and energy surround me?  I am never going to call Lydie an angel, but can I find her in a bright, shining star?  And believe it?

"So when I need you can I send you a sign?  Light a candle and turn off the light, pick a star and watch you shine..." - Pink, Beam Me Up, on Lydie's playlist


  1. I don't have signs either, really. I mean there are things that happen that make me think of Cale, like a butterfly, but I don't think it's Cale communicating with me. I wanted that for a long time too, but am at peace with the fact that it's ok to see something and just be reminded of my baby. It's especially nice when it's something simple and peaceful and lovely, like a fluttering butterfly or a sunset or what have you.

    I love your dream. I've never had a Cale dream, and while I can understand your practical side taking over, no matter what I think it's awesome that even your subconscious wants to reassure you that "she's there"....though I think maybe it's more than that. My husband lost his little brother 8 months after Cale died and he had several dreams about him, that I fully believe were more than just dreams. In one Daren was playing with Cale and stacking these blocks and it comforts me even now, to know they are together.

  2. Hi Heather,
    Have you considered naming a star for Lydie? Giving her a piece of that big universe that she's a part of?

  3. It's so hard being a cynic, I literally can't cling to any piece of comfort - a supposed sign, a dream, some comforting words or thoughts - for more than five minutes it seems, then the cynical side of me screams BUT SHE DIED, SHE DIED, SHE'S GONE, SHE DOESN'T EXIST. I wish I had a deep faith and conviction i would see Nancy again, but my mind just won't let it be so. I do take some comfort in the thought that she will always be a part of me, and also in the thought that she spent all her time with me, she will never have to go out into the world and experience hurt and pain, she is safe now, wherever she may be, and nothing can harm her. It sounds kind of rubbish written like that actually, 'yay my baby is dead, I don't need to worry about her being abducted in the park!' But it is nice that I was with her her whole life, she will never lose her parents like my eldest will probably have to (a thought which makes me sad if I think too much about it). I'm rambling, but great post x

  4. Oh heather...I came to comment on this post because I can so relate, I have pins and needles.

    I wanted so badly to feel Alexander, and believe all the "he's with you always" sentiments I received from everyone, it was god awful.

    I too had a dream - mine was of me holding Alexander on my chest...roughly 3 months out from his death. He was around that age. I'm not entirely sure. He was my first, and I assumed this was the exact weight and appearance of a 3 month old. But it was so real. I was in a hotel in BC, getting away from it all (because what else do you do when your baby dies???) and I had this dream. I woke and still felt the weight on my chest. I was in awe. Complete and utter awe that maybe, by chance, oh my god, it was him...

    I'm not a huge believer in signs and constant communicating with my dead son. But I will say I am more so now than I was 3 years ago. And it was only recently that I realized I have a "thing" that reminds me of him ...but it's not like every time I see a Winnie the Pooh anything, I think it's a message or something. But I do "feel" him these days in a way I couldn't quite so in the early months. Maybe it's because he was my first, and I didn't know what it was to have a child by my side, in my arms, to miss. But these days, with a living son to manhandle each day...I tangibly ache for that 3 year old to hold my hand and melt my heart.

    I do believe dreams are loaded with a bunch of real stuff that no one can explain, and science can't get behind. But that dream with your uncle made my heart race. I believe she's there...looked after, in good company...surrounded by a love us humans have yet to experience. I believe it.

    I'm missing her with you xo. Looking for her too. Lydie xo

  5. Hi Friend - I read this post a while back, but it keeps haunting me. I had never heard that a baby literally becomes a part of the mother's body. I just love this thought and that you'll always carry Lydie with you. I hope you do find her in other ways throughout your day. On a side note, my mom obviously loved your shout out in this post too and that you liked the ornament. Always thinking of you and Lydie. Love you lots!

  6. Hi,

    I wanted to say thank you for your blog.

    So many of the things you have written are my own thoughts and feelings described really well.
    My daughter Aria was stillborn on 27th October 2014. I was 39 weeks. We had undetected feto-maternal haemorrhage, where she bled through the placenta into me. That's pretty crazy and I still can't get my head around it... I didn't have any symptoms and she was moving as normal... until that nightmare morning.

    I also struggle seeing signs or feeling her in any way but then I tell myself I have my baby's blood cells in my blood... I cried when I read that we carry their DNA - just another reassurance for me, and I'm clutching on that with both hands as I have so little...

    Sending you and Lydie love xx


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