Tuesday, September 9, 2008
For Caitlin's first birthday, we had a party, and guests brought gifts, just as they would do for any other child's first birthday. But these gifts were special, they were meant for other mom and dad's babies. Caitlin's Gifts of onsies, blankets, hats, booties, boppy pillows, disposable cameras, and children's books will make many hearts smile as they parent their infants in the NICU where we parented Caitlin. And for those families who were not as fortunate, who find themselves in need, Cailtin's Gifts will provide a few diapers to send along for those first precious days at home with a premie. Caitlin's Gifts will include pharmacy gift cards for medication for parents whose baby was born before they had anticipated they would add their child to an insurance policy or after a family's insurance has stopped paying. My daughter's gifts have brought me much healing, I've been almost giddy for these days following her day of cake, punch, and a song. I can't wait to deliver her gifts.
I've written and addressed the thank you cards, and hugged and shared words of gratitude for Caitlin's Gifts, though it doesn't seem like enough. I must be sure to express my gratitude for the gift each person gave to me in this milestone in my journey of grief--a journey that pulls me out farther away from the shore of my daughter's life. I had many genuine smiles on my face and in my heart on Caitlin's birthday. I marvel at the miracle of those smiles as they provide a mesh to carry me into the next day and next The words and prayers, whether spoken with a hug, whispered in a private petition or written in a card or note, have woven a netting beautiful and strong. I feel myself being held. I am still in this sea of sorrow, but this mesh gently catches me and guides me to warmer and safer waters--where I can float and remember and sometimes catch a glimpse of her shore.
Somehow in my lot in life, I have been fortunate to be surrounded by love, and fortunate that my daughter inspired and drew out of me more than I thought possible in myself. I don't mean to go hokey here, but this is the thing, without the support of family and friends, and strangers too, I would dissolve, formless, into dark, turbulent waters of despair. There are many times I do dissolve, but somehow, someone, through word or action, has found a way to make a finer net, knotting another delicate and indestructible thread. And somehow, I re-form and get on with imagining more ways to honor and remember and become the kind of mother Caitlin should have. And when I fear I can swim no more, the love for my daughter catches me and brings me back to healing waters.