Borchardt Consulting

Remembering With Love

Posted on: October 29, 2012

21 years ago, my 4 month old daughter died suddenly and unexpectedly.  It rocked my world and I continue to feel the aftershocks of that day. Before you roll your eyes and think, “It’s been 21 years, get over it!”  Allow me to say that I live a blessed life and I’m very happy.  I believe that is owed in large part to my daughter’s death.

I have been thinking for months that I needed to find a way to mark this huge milestone.  21 years old means that my baby is no longer my baby but an adult.  A woman.  Sigh.  I missed so much. But, as I was ruminating about all that has happened in the last 21 years, I realized that the best way for me to honor my daughter’s short life would be to thank all the people who played such a huge role in helping me to heal and smile again. 

The kindnesses bestowed upon me can never be repaid but I want those who prayed for me, cried with me, sat with me, bullied me and held me up to know that I not only remember Becky, but I remember them too.  For a long time, Wednesdays were the worst day of the week since that was the weekday that my daughter died.  It was the hardest day to go to work and pretend to be Okay.  But, I remember coming home every Wednesday night from work and finding a note on my door from a neighbor. The note read: “Dinner is ready and hot.  Give me a call so I can bring it over.”  Those dinners meant much more than a hot meal for my family.  Those dinners, at first so unexpected, showed me that someone knew, even before I did how emotionally draining those anniversary Wednesdays could be.

I remember my sister who had an infant of her own and who came over several times a day, every day.  She handed me her baby to breastfeed (just a little) before she breastfed her own baby in order to try to slowly ease my way out of breastfeeding.  After 4 months of breastfeeding, there was no easy way to stop the copious flow of milk.  My sore breasts were just an outward sign of my pain.  Yet, my sister’s generosity in sharing her darling dark haired baby girl not only eased my sore breasts, but eased my aching arms as well. 

I remember my co-worker who went to lunch with me every day and endured my overwhelming sadness.  I remember my neighbors who sat with me for hours and hours in the backyard just passing the time of day, sitting quietly or talking about mundane daily life.  I felt included and surrounded by love.

I remember a boss who made it possible for my husband and me to take our surviving daughter to Disney World.  We needed a little time for this family of four to figure out how to be a family of three again but with the unexpected expenses of a funeral there would have been no extra money for an extravagant trip. 

I remember a stranger whom I had never previously met calling me every day to check on me because she too was a mother who had a baby die.  She understood the isolation of deep grief.

I remember my large family whose distress kept the family tom-toms beating for months strategizing on how they could best help.  Never intrusive, but always loving, they looked for ways big and small to ease our never-ending sadness.  I remember coming home from work and finding my laundry sorted.  What a relief!  I could go to work every day.  I could manage a staff but I couldn’t sort my own laundry.  It just seemed like too many decisions.  So while I was away, a little elf would sneak into my house and sort my laundry.  That kindness said to me: “We believe you’re capable, but we’ll just give you a little hand.”  What a gift.

I remember my 4 year old daughter sitting next to me in her own rocking chair while I cried.  She would pat my leg and chatter to me.  She was so full of questions.  She challenged me to stay in the present instead of drifting back to the past where my other baby girl was.  She reminded me that she too needed a mommy.

I remember several years later a friend who wrote me a check for hundreds of dollars so that I could go back to school to become a bereavement facilitator and run support groups for other families who had  also experienced the death of a child.

I remember all the nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters who made time every year to commemorate Becky’s death anniversary by gathering at her tree.  They wrote messages of love on balloons that we hoped would reach from our hearts to her heart and we watched both the children and the tree grow up together.

I remember my parents’ heart-break that they could not fix this giant boo-boo for me and make the pain all go away.  I remember my father’s anger at the belief that it should have been him – the senior family member rather than his granddaughter.    I remember years later when their son (my brother) died watching them with gentle strength and abiding faith withstand the pain of losing a child with great dignity.

I remember my husband holding me in his arms at night and crying with me.  I remember him telling me that we could survive this – and we did!  

There are many other stories of kindness.  Too numerous to mention but no less touching and appreciated.

Thank you.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  I can never express how much each kindness lifted me up and helped me to believe that one day it would be better.  No one who has not experienced it can adequately describe how difficult a transition it is from carrying your baby in your arms to carry her in your heart.  Yet, we were surrounded by love, compassion and empathy.  It’s been a long journey.  I remember so many kindnesses. Kindnesses that didn’t stop after a few months or even a few years but continued on even until today – 21 year years later.  Very few people are so blessed.

I remember.

 

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2 Responses to "Remembering With Love"

What an incredibly moving post. Thank you for sharing it. Thoughts for you and your daughter… I am so sorry for your loss

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Pam – You’ve always been a great writer, and your thank you letter of love is a testament to the way you express what is in your heart. I’m sure Becky is in a beautiful and magical place and will be waiting for you and your family with open arms, when that time comes. When my mother (of ten) lost one of her little girls when she was just 7, it changed her forever….even though well-wishers would try to comfort her, saying “at least you have 9 other children”. The pain of losing a child must be so great that nothing and/or no one can really make-up for it. You’ve always been one of my “heroes” for the admirable way you’ve survived the past 21 years. Thank you for taking the time to remember those of us who played some small part in your recovery. xoxo Margaret

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