In some ways, perhaps, the hardest.
We met with Kate's birth parents. When we opened the car doors, I could hear her mom sobbing in the parking lot. It was awful. A gut wrenching, anguished cry from the deep. Though it made me want to cry from the depths of all the pain I feel, I knew that I needed to hang on. To stand firm for her. So I held her, in the middle of the parking lot. And I told her it was okay.
Even though it isn't.
I felt her abdomen press into mine. A bit soft. Lacking the one thing that we both long for. Missing Kate.
They signed papers giving us the right to bury our daughter. Forms that are the closest thing to an adoption that we'll ever have. A paper that said Baby Girl--Deceased at the top. No name--even though she has one. No life--even though she touched so many.
"How very softly you tiptoed into our world, almost silently, only a moment you stayed. Oh, but what an imprint your footprints have left on our hearts."
I am so thankful that her mother passed Kate's tiny footprints on to me. And I'm so thankful that those tiny feet walked all over my heart during these past three months. Tiptoed over every inch of it so that now I know that the deep grief I feel is explained only by the intense love that I felt.
It's exhausting lining up all the paperwork needed to transfer burial rights from her birth parents to the people who would have been her mom and dad. It took a lot of signatures. But it was accomplished and so, after we spent time with her parents, we went to the mortuary.
We went to the mortuary to discuss the burial of our infant daughter. I hate that sentence. I hate it with everything that is inside of me. I hate that my boys have to watch us grieve. I hate that we don't get to paint nails and have tea parties and play dress up and do all the things I imagined us doing together. I hate that I found myself sitting in a mortuary tonight discussing a two foot long casket. TWENTY FOUR INCHES of casket. That's all she needs.
I've been told by a handful of people that I can't see her. It's simply been too long and too much has changed. I'm supposed to remember her for what she could have been. Tonight, I was told the same information. So I asked him if there was any possible way that I might be able to hold her when she gets to the mortuary. Maybe she could be wrapped up tightly so that I couldn't see any of the things I'm not supposed to see. But...just...please? Because my arms are aching. Only not nearly as much as my heart is. He stared for a few moments prompting me to continue with, "Or, is that not okay?"
"The answer is yes," he said. I audibly exhaled relief. "I would never deprive a mother of the chance to hold her baby."
So, sometime in the next few days, I will be able to hold her in my arms--the place I imagined she'd be for sleepless nights and morning snuggles--for a moment. And, soon after that, she'll be placed into a casket not much bigger than a shoe box.
This isn't how I imagined any of this.
Today was a hard day.