The sound of sobbing
The thing about motherhood after loss is that the memories are never too far from the surface, the triggers are plenty, and the heartache is always so tangible. This week has been a tough one.
There is no sound that penetrates time and space quite like the visceral sobs of a mother being robbed of her child. The first time I heard this sound it didn't come from me. It was from the beautiful but broken mother in the room next door, so caught up in her despair that the sounds of her wails seemed to come from a place deep within her, somewhere beyond her control.
I didn't realise straight away what the sound was. I didn't realise what it meant. But it stopped me in my tracks that day. It broke through all that was going on in my own world as I stood beside my own baby girl in the NICU. It startled my heart. It stilled my breath. It left an ear piercing silence in its wake.
It was only a couple of months later that I became acquainted personally with that sound. I sat in a room of doctors having an unimaginable conversation — our baby girl was losing her battle and it was our decision whether to continue her medical care. I remember sitting in that meeting room trying desperately not to throw up and consciously reminding myself to breathe. I wanted to scream. Every instinct in my body ached to be with my baby.
As I entered her room I heard those guttural sobs once again. But this time they were my own. From somewhere deep within me, beyond my control, those anguished, violent sobs seemed to break me open and gush out. It was all I could do not to fall to my knees and never get up.
Gratefully, this time was not the end of our Nora's journey, not yet. As I held my baby that evening I knew we were not ready to say goodbye and the determined warrior-like spirit in her eyes told us she wasn't ready to go either.
This week a number of things have brought these difficult memories to the forefront:
I've been reminded of the ever sobering reality that everyday there are children fighting to survive illness and tragedy. For them and their families, I pray for strength, hope and healing. I listened to a beautifully painful podcast of a fellow loss mother talking about her sweet baby girl's battle with a terminal genetic disease. Her words so hard to hear, yet so important to share. I put up the Christmas decorations, a bittersweet reminder of our final weeks with Nora before she passed last Christmas. So many triggers. So many reminders of the pain. So many other mothers who have, or are, walking a similar journey. I see you. I hear your sobs.
A couple of months after that meeting with Nora's doctors, we found ourselves once again with a big decision to make. This time we knew our little fighter was all out of fight. There was nothing more that could be done but make her comfortable. And even though we knew that letting her go was the best thing we could do for her, those sobs poured out of me once again with the same fierce desperation and agony as they had done before.
No — there is certainly no sound that penetrates time and space quite like the sobs of a mother being robbed of her child.