I always hated anytime I ended up with a scar. I have lots of tiny ones on my arms from having the chicken pox 4 times as a child. I have one next to my knee from the time I cut it in band class (yes, I played the saxophone) in the 8th grade. I have three on my other knee from surgery 11 years ago. I have one on my left hand next to my ring finger where I burned myself on an iron while visiting my sister 10 years ago. I could go on and on…I have lots of little ones everywhere.
But I now have a few scars I am so very proud of. I have lots of stretch marks to show how my belly grew as the girls grew within me. I did not like them at first. They are still not my favorite. But they are a daily reminder of the joy and pure bliss of feeling a child kick you from within, roll over, hiccup and push a little foot outward to make a bit more room. I have a c-section scar that shows that my girls were born. It is not healed yet from Alie’s birth, but it will be a beautiful scar. It will remind me daily that I carried all three of them, that they were taken from my womb and given to us to love, care for, and watch grow.
Now I have a scar that is not so tangable. I have a scar on my heart reminding me daily that, although Natalie grew within me and she was born, she stayed with us for only 14 months 12 days. Somedays it is not as visible, hiding just beyond the view of the naked eye. Somedays you can see this scar. It manifests itself as my quiet demeanor, tear stains on my cheeks, or the inability for me to focus on things as I should. There are many days now that I can only do one thing at a time when I was a good mutli-tasker before. Natalie takes up at least one “task” at all times…my thoughts are never far from her memory. But this is a scar that I happily wear now. I am not happy she is gone, but I am happy that I am her mom, that I held her even if it was for a brief moment, and that she loved me. I am so grateful to have memories, lots of memories. I can’t even begin to count the number of pictures we have of her smile, personality and love. We thrive on those. I know I can take out my albums or just open Memory Manager on my computer and I can remember all those moments. They are some of the most precious memories we will ever make.
One year ago today, Natalie was given a scar. At 1:39 in the morning she left our world. But as she left she gave what she could to help another. She was given a scar when her kidneys were removed. And somewhere in Central Virginia, a 42 (now 43) year old man got a new scar…one that gave him Natalie’s kidneys and a new opportunity to live. These have to be 2 of the most beautiful scars that I will never see. But I know about them. I know the sacrifice my girl made. I know the sacrifice we made. And I know that it has forever changed me.
Last night, we ventured up to the PICU. As you all know well, I like to take them yummy goodies. My heart pounds when I pick up the phone in the hallway to gain permission to enter the PICU. I feel as though it is going to come out of my chest as we walk through the door. And usually I begin to sob as we say hello to the staff working that day. We have been fortunate to visit (the last 2 times!) where there have been no children in the PICU. It is a bit easier when I do not hear the machines dinging. Bryan and Emily always walk down to room 5, where Natalie fought for her life. Each time we go, I run into someone else that was intregal in Nat’s care and several others who know of us even if they did not specifically care for our girl. Last night was no different. We arrived with coffee and a Pumpkin Pie (yum!). I picked up the phone and a familiar voice was on the other end. C.A., one of Natalie’s nurses, was working. We have not seen her since we left one year earlier. CA was Nat’s nurse on the 29th last year as I cut Natalie’s hair, as we bathed her, as we took her footprints and handprints so we could forever remember her and have a few tangible things in the years to come. It was so nice and comforting to see her face. We were able to share Alie with her. She even commented on how much Alie looks like Nat. Although I know that the circumstance was not good, we certainly made several sweet friends during our time there. And I am grateful for each one. I am grateful for each one we reconnect with on our visits. And this was my first visit there that I did not cry. As we left, my heart felt full. I had walked out the doors and down that hall one year ago. Our girl was going home to be with her Lord and we were going home to mourn her. But I felt like she was with me as we left, hugging on me and telling me that she was ok. One day I will be able to look into room 5. I know I will leave with tears streaming down my face. And I know it will get easier each time I visit.
I miss her terribly. Tonight has been so difficult. Events of the day have not gone how I wanted and that makes me anxious. I am not packed and I am supposed to leave in the morning, bright and early. Our departure will be delayed so I can sleep tonight. And packing will take place in the morning. The grief, the heartache, is real tonight. It is strong and making it hard to breathe. I spent a little over an hour cuddling with Alie after she fell asleep. Bryan and Corey had to run out and it was just me and the girls. I cherish that time, no matter which of my girls is curled up with me. Those moments allow me to remember the scars each one of my girls gave me. They make me smile and cry all at once. They are beautiful scars.
It has been one year. This year has flown by and yet it has seemed as though we are living in slow motion. I know that the coming year will give me more ups and downs, more heartache and more moments to cherish. I know it will add a few more scars.
They will be beautiful scars.
Good night all.
Love,Hillary, Bryan, Emily, especially our angel Natalie, and Allison