On January 22, 2012, our daughter Hartley Joy Morris, just wasn't moving. I was 24 weeks pregnant and relieved to have made it to "viability" that day and yet I felt as though the sting of death was near. My active little girl wasn't moving; her kicks had always put her big brother's kicks (when he was in utero) to shame! No orange juice (yep) or coffee (yep again) or pushing and prodding her in my belly caused her to stir. The prayers of fear and grief couldn't save her, and I tried that too. Only God could save her. On the 23rd, a trip to the labor and delivery triage and a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist confirmed our worst fears. And on the 24th, we celebrated Hartley Joy's birthday, mourned her death, loved her so well, and then gave her back. But not without hope. We gave her back, knowing that she is always ours and forever HIS. Forever HIS. And because she is forever HIS and so are we, we have HOPE beyond hell and the grave that we will see her again. Perfect. Whole. And we KNOW that God did save her. He saved her from the sadness and trials of this world. He saved her from hurt. But most importantly He saved her INTO HIS ARMS FOREVER.
So where do we go from here? I have asked myself that, struggled over that, through that and with that thought. Because here's the deal. I'm not. the. same. How could I be? How could you carry a baby, love that baby as your own, begin to dream about life with her and then lose her. Then have to do the unspeakable. Yes, bury her. But before that, go to the funeral home, help fill out her death certificate while the funeral director (bless his heart, really) tries to lighten the mood. Look at caskets that are so tiny that nobody should ever have to look at, let alone BUY and USE. Decide that nobody else really should have to experience that, and in so, choose not to show her casket at the funeral. Decide which pictures to share with the world of our girl that we think is the most beautiful little girl but other people may be bothered by. Then go pick out the best flowers for your baby girl, knowing that these flowers have to fill the void of all those Valentine's flowers daddy won't buy her, the just because weeds, ahem flowers, she will never pick for us, the flowers she will never get for a dance at school, the flower's she will never have at the wedding she will never have. But can I say she had the most beautiful flowers at her funeral!
So, here I am. Trying to navigate new waters. Finding myself at many crossroads. I know I, and we as a family, need to move forward. But we will never "move on". Moving on, to me, means forgetting. I can never forget. This journey defines so much of who I am becoming and who I will be. I fear that when people who knew me before all this talk to me now they don't recognize who I am now and don't know what to do. You see, I fear this for others because I am dealing with that fear myself. I don't recognize a lot of who I am now and I don't know what to do. Part of me wants SO BAD to be who I was before Hartley because there is a lot less fear and unknown and sadness and grief in naivety. And yet I KNOW I need to be where I am now and not for a minute do I desire to take back every moment I had with my sweet Hartley Joy. So though I may cross that fork in the road often right now wondering which way to go, I know without hesitation the path I must take.
One step at a time, often in the dark, I am trusting God to provide for just that next step. That's where I am right now. And I'm at peace with knowing that I have already and may again walk through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23) in this journey. I can't speak for yesterday, a month ago, three months ago, this afternoon, tonight, tomorrow, next month... I'm not sure. But right now, I'm at peace.
"But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore, do not be anxious, saying 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink' or 'What shall we wear?' But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is it's own trouble." -Matthew 6:30-31, 33-34