Thursday, December 11, 2008

The immediate aftermath....

Well, so there I was. Suddenly unsure of my purpose. I had been preparing for a life as a new mother and was gone. I told H over and over again that I didn't know what my purpose was any more. I felt like I'd been run over physically and emotionally.

We got home on the Sunday, after making a trip to HyVee for my ultra strong 800mg ibuprofen and my frighteningly overwhelmingly strong percocet. The percocet made me feel completely stoned and I had to take them with food to keep them down. Gnarly stuff - but I did need them because the pain from the emergency cesarean was pretty tough to bear. I would later try to cut down (the next day actually) and realize I wasn't ready at all. I finally came off them about a week later. They made me feel completely stoned - perhaps not a bad thing under the circumstances, but I was aware rather quickly of the fact that they were indeed narcotics and rather highly addictive. The last thing I needed on top of everything else was to become addicted to painkillers. I wasn't going to have that, and I knew it.

Monday came, and H and I sat and watched TV together. He made a nice cooked breakfast for me - bacon, eggs and pancakes...half of which ended up in the toilet later on. Very unfortunate. He'd made me a nest in our bedroom and put the crib and baby things away in an upstairs closet - something I was very grateful for. We sat there and passed the time in each other's arms.

Three O'Clock came, and that was the time for the funeral gathering at the funeral home. We went in the Jimmy. I wore a black, sleeveless polarneck shirt and a pair of maternity pants. I had to wear a constriction bandage around my chest because my milk had come in. So, bundled up and above the clouds on percocet, off we went.

I felt so self conscious walking into the funeral home. There was no easy way of walking in there really. I clung to H's arm and we were greeted by lovely and very kind funeral home staff, including the man who had come to take Josie away on the Saturday. They were all clearly very affected by the occasion.

There were people there already, sitting in the chairs and at the end of the walkway between the chairs was a little table, and sitting on it, a tiny white casket made of thick, shaped plastic. Surrounding her were flowers - flowers everywhere. They were on stands, on tables, on the floor. I coulnd't believe how many flowers had been sent. they came from everywhere - just everywhere. Almost every team I worked with at work had sent a huge bouquet or a potted plant that would continue living and I was stunned. There must have been at least twenty of them. Beautiful daisies, roses, vines... She had been surrounded and cradled with beautiful nature - she looked like Ophelia sailing down the river, surrounded by blossoms.

I went to each and every one and looked at the tags, and the flowers. There were framed photographs of Josie among them as well, from the wonderful hospital photographers who took such artful shots of her. There was a board with more photography on it, and angel ornaments, candles and all sorts of things on a table to the right.

I floated through the people and accepted condolences, trying to hold it together to get down to my daughter although I knew her spirit had already left. And there she was all of a sudden in front of me, dressed in the clothes the children and Daddy had picked out for her. She wore a christmas dress with a tiny pair of pants underneath that I'd always found so amusing. They were white and had a bunny tail on the butt, with little bunny feet at the bottom. She had her little pink and purple bug from her crib in with her - you pull it's tail and it plays tinny music and has little red lights that light up and glow in the head. She had been placed in two blankets - one of them bright pink and made of fleece; the other a very soft pink and textures with moons and stars....very soft material. She had a little white satin cushion on her, and there were tiny roses on it from her Grandmas. They had makeup on her, and at that moment with her face all relaxed, she looked so much like me, I had to hold my breath. her lips were just like mine were as a child. I looked but did not touch.

The service went on, and the kind Catholic Father who presided conducted it in such a nice way. There were so many people there - probably about eighty. Almost every seat was full. H and I sat there with a box of tissues in between us and we held hands and we cried. Our lovely midwife sat to my left and having her there was great because she continues to be such a rock and a light at a very shadowed time.

At the end of the service, I walked up to Josie and I kissed my hand, and then I placed it on her forehead. I walked back up and out of the funeral home.

We drove to the cemetary as a big procession. So many cars, so very slowly and flanked by a police escort. The day was cool but not rainy. We got to the burial site and there was a little green mat over her grave. The hearse pulled up, and we were behind it. Everyone got out and we stood by the grave site while H went to the hearse and bent and received Josie's casket. He held it in both hands and walked up the slope, looking completely broken. Tears came out of his eyes and I was in awe of him. He gently set her down and I went to him as he was coming to me. We met in the middle, arms intertwined and stood there. He had to support me because I couldn't move a lot yet due to the cesarean.

We stood in a circle and said a prayer, holding hands around the little grave site. There were many babies in that area of the cemetary. I could almost feel them welcoming her into the next life - as though at the other end of the ritual we were peforming, they were there bringing her out into the light of another world.

We finished, and took flowers from her wreath - they were tiny white and pink rosebuds. And then it was over.


Shannon Ryan said...

I remember picking up Dresden's ashes at the funeral home and we started crying when she held out the little box that our baby was in.. and Shaun said to the woman, you must be used to this.. and she said, with tears in her eyes.. no, not this, this should never happen. When our babies died, they touched so many.

L.A. said...

Of course you don't know me, the magic of the internet. My name is Lesley and I lost my 2 yr. old daughter, Gretta Claire on September 4 of this year. My friend Katie sent me a link to your blog. I like how you knew Josie's spirit was gone, I knew immediately when Gretta's spirit left her. I cried as I read your blog. I am so sorry that you lost Josie. She is/was beautiful. I will write more to you another time, but if you have the energy sometime, my blog is
I was lucky enough to have my daughters funeral taped and there is a link on my blog to her funeral, it is significant only in the fact that I spoke at it. My story is there.