Acceptance: Surviving the Death of a Child
The days and nights seem endless...
Three hundred sixty-five times forty-three
since that day so long ago
when in a trance-like dream, we said goodbye.
The June sun glared mercilessly
as our throbbing hearts bore
wounds that defied healing.
The pale blue dotted Swiss, freshly pressed,
a gift from Grandmother for first birthday
Now a burial shroud.
My heart begged the Heavens, but silence echoed no response.
Days passed, then weeks, months, and then years,
The throbbing has slowly turned to a dull ache,
Struggles to understand, to know, to reason....have slowly turned to quiet acceptance.
But acceptance has its price.....sometimes it has paid short visits in the night as I have lain quietly.
And at times a kind of acceptance has visited in the broad daylight, but tore fresh wounds in my heart as it left me yet again.
Days passed, and then weeks, months, years. A lingering ache has replaced the searing pain.
A quiet acceptance visits more often, stays longer, leaves only occasionally now and without ripping through my heart.
And I endure, for I am a survivor.
I am a survivor.
Writing poetry is not my thing. I am definitely not a poet. However, there are times when I write to express my feelings regardless of the aesthetics or literary merit. This poem was one I wrote simply for myself. Because of its extremely personal nature, I never intended to publish it----for lots of reasons.
However, as I read and reread the words I wrote, I realized that maybe someone else is going along this journey and could benefit from what I wrote. For at least a year after my daughter's death, I could not read anything on grief. I wanted no platitudes, no words that could not reach my grieving heart. Later, I read several books on grief that helped me realize the grieving process is a journey. For those who lose a child, the journey never ends---that is, one always longs for that child and grieves. But the grieving becomes more manageable, and you finally realize that you can---and do---survive. I am stronger because of going through this process.
However, I have no desire to be stronger----I have never stopped missing her, and learning lessons that make me stronger---no thanks. However, we don't choose our lot in life sometimes.
In the case of our daughter, we had no idea what happened to her, a beautiful, healthy eleven-month old who had never been sick. Two years after her death, we learned that my husband and I both lacked a liver enzyme that breaks down procaine, novacaine, anectine, and other similar drugs. At the time she died, doctors frequently mixed procaine with penicillin injections to make the injection less painful. At the time of her death, no test was available to determine the level of that liver enzyme. Two years later, our second child underwent surgery for ear tubes, and the anesthesiologist discovered that she could not break down the anectine given to her during surgery. Because she was in a large children's hospital (University of Alabama in Birmingham), tests immediately revealed the problem, and she survived. The medical staff tested the entire family and learned that both my husband and I lacked this liver enzyme.
Knowing what happened to our daughter gave us understanding, but the loss could never be regained. We will continue to miss her for the rest of our lives. But we have endured and we have survived.