Friday, February 05, 2021

My Daughter, The Warrior

Last week, I donated some clothing to our local DAV. I didn't really think of which route I would be following to get there, but I ended up having to drive right by the hospital where we lost our sweet Lola. In fact, I had to stop at the (very long) stoplight right in front of it. Sitting there, I could see Wesley Children's Hospital. I located the room(s) we stayed in, and I could even remember the colorful lights shining in our window at night and how pretty the many sunsets were from that higher vantage point. I could see the Ronald McDonald House across the street, remembering what a godsend they were to us all those nights. I was quite literally flooded with memories as I waited there at that dreaded stoplight.

I also could not forget the difficult times... the times I had been parked at that very light on my way back to the hospital after a quick one-hour run home to shower and grab more items, my anxiety through the roof with worry & fear about what the future held for our beautiful girl. I remembered my many prayers for her healing... my pleas to God to take years off my own life and add them to hers so I could once again take my baby home from the hospital. I didn't have that luxury with her big sister, Claire, just 9 months prior, as she passed away suddenly at home. Oh yes, so many prayers were said at that very light, crying out to the Universe to PLEASE SAVE MY BABY! Please give her another chance at life! 

We held out hope for sooooo long. We had to stay positive for her and for us. We had to believe that she was going to beat this a second time (within 5 weeks) and that the second hospitalization of her entire 13.5 years of life was NOT going to end in us losing her also. I reeeeeally thought we would get her back home again, until the last day or two. 

Now, as I look back on those days that I held onto hope with all my might, I am almost disgusted with myself. HOW DID I NOT SEE THIS COMING??? Did everyone else know that Lola was dying? Why couldn’t *I* accept this? Was I delusional? Too hopeful? How the fuck could we not save her another time?!?! We had helped her survive so many other upper respiratory infections before. We watched her tiny, little body waste away and struggle too many times to count in the past, often with no real reason as to why this was occurring. It wasn't at all unusual for us to worry about her survival or mortality daily. She was our ultra-sensitive, fragile child. I don't know what contract she signed with the Heavens before entering this life, but I still stand in awe of just how hard my baby girl fought so many times to STAY. Heck, she was on the brink of death a multitude of times just weeks prior, fighting the same viruses, and she somehow managed to make it back home after ten days of pure hell. Why would she not be able to do so again? After all, she had always been "bulletproof," as my friend Amy put it. 

My baby died in that hospital.

I will never, ever forget this or "get over it." I am never going to sit at the stoplight at Central & Hillside again and not remember how desperately hard our baby girl fought to LIVE. 

I haven't been able to write about this topic hardly at all. I am still not ready to do so at length. I wonder if I ever fully will be. It almost feels too sacred and private to discuss outside of our home. What our beloved daughter endured, what we witnessed, the endless bagging, the many IV's, all the medicines (and their reactions), her heart rate repeatedly plummeting, the catastrophic seizures, the suffocating heaviness of it all... it changes a person. It flat out HAUNTS you. These nightmarish, traumatic memories somehow worm their way into your consciousness, begging to be remembered and felt. I am not ok. I am not sure I will ever be ok again. I miss my babies.

As I parked there for what felt like 5 minutes, I also began thinking of all the people inside those walls who, like our sweet girl did 15 months prior, are fighting against a fatal respiratory virus. Our Lola didn't die from Covid, but she too fought with the strength of a warrior just to breathe. Over 2 million people have fought so hard and lost their battles, too. It completely shatters me to even ponder this harsh reality, not to mention the fact that they suffered and died alone. The weight of the world is feeling absolutely unbearable to me lately.

The light finally turned green, and I continued through the intersection in tears, the music lyrics in the background ripping through me... "Stay alive, stay alive... for me." (Truce, by Twenty One Pilots ~

[You should know that I have never been suicidal at any point after losing our girls, but a part of me understands fully how one could reach that inconceivable point of despair. My heart goes out to those who face these feelings daily. I encourage anyone who is reading this and feeling that hopelessness to reach out to someone at thNational Suicide Prevention Lifeline ~ 1-800-273-TALK (8255).]

As I headed home after the DAV drop, I continued listening to music, tried to refocus, tried to forget. You see, grief is exhausting, all-consuming, and heavy. It can derail me for a few moments or for weeks on end. Sometimes I get mad at myself that I keep burying it all and that I am not finding ways to offload some of this guilt and sorrow. I wish I was better about facing it head-on, but honestly, I am not sure I am strong enough for that. Truly allowing myself to feel the reality and weight of losing both Claire & Lola inside of ten months of one another... it is pure torture. Most days, the best I can do is to not let myself remember what she... what WE... experienced. I know I cannot run away from this forever, but I wish to God I could. I want to remember how Claire & Lola LIVED, not how they died. I want to live inside their magic forever.

I hate to say this, but most days it truly feels like a dream that our girls were even here. I don't know how to accurately explain this to someone who hasn't lived through it, but let me try. I think our brains work so damn hard trying to make sense of something that makes ZERO sense that everything becomes a little cloudy. You begin questioning everything. Their clothes aren't in your laundry anymore, you are no longer listening for them day and night, your every moment spent caring for them... it all vanishes. It almost feels as though you are plucked from the life you know and love and are dropped alone into a foreign country where you do not speak the language and everything is scary & unfamiliar. You feel lost and so desperately wish to return to your safe, comfortable life, but that is impossible because that life no longer exists. You are forced to find your way in this new place, completely starting over, rebuilding your whole life, learning this new language and place, making new friends, restructuring previous relationships, relearning how to function in society, and most of all, rediscovering your entire life's purpose. I wish I could somehow put a happy spin on child loss or find some random silver lining like I always seem to do as I process my feelings through writing. My dear friend, Stephanie, shared this post recently, and I could not agree with it more.

As I turned into my little town, the sky along the horizon was dark and stormy looking. Above that, the sun’s rays shone so beautifully, creating many luminous beacons of hope... almost as if they were little winks from above. I swear I heard my girls' sweet voices echoing in my head saying, "Hey Mom, we are still right here! *WE* are your light within the dark. We are always with you, Mama..."

I think when you lose someone very close to you, you miss their physical presence so profoundly that you automatically tune in to any signs or messages from the other side a little more than most. Many may not even believe this is possible, but we have had too many undeniable events occur to NOT believe that our girls are reaching out to us. (Don't even get me started on the ladybug I saw in my bedroom this week in the dead of winter with freezing temps outside when we hadn't seen any ladybugs since autumn... Hi, Claire-bug!)

As I pulled into my garage, I sat in silence in my car for a moment before going inside. Being a part of the world again, interacting with others, and doing "normal" daily activities drains me so much more than ever before. I am different now. Many days it feels like I just do not fit in anywhere I go. The pandemic seems to have complicated that even more. Just as I was about to head inside the house, I remembered something I used to do early on after losing Claire & Lola that always helped me feel a lot closer to them. This may sound ridiculous to those on the other side of grief, and I fully understand if you think I've lost my damn mind (pleeeeeease, don't think I don't question that myself daily! LOL). As I sat in this deafening silence, I talked to my babies. I told them how much I loved them and how proud of them I will forever be. I cried telling them how much I missed holding them and how sorry I was that I could not save them. I told them to come to me in my dreams and to leave me messages whenever they could so I would know they were still near. Lastly, I asked my angel babies to play me a song that would ease my aching heart. I then hit shuffle on my 62 GB of music on my phone (not a typo!), and the song that played was this one. So fitting. Soooo Claire & Lola.

Mama loves you forever & ever, my baby girls. I miss you.



Carol said...

Thank you for sharing.

Dictators Slave said...

Your girls will never be gone. The impact they left on this world is enormous. Thank you for sharing them with us

Lozzer Benedictine said...

I love to read what you write Gwen, it's bittersweet. It's so sad and beautiful and the same time, love is the most powerful force in the universe and I've never known anyone with the strength of your love. I get and feel this from your writing alone. I have no shadow of a doubt your girls feel this from whatever plane they have passed over too. You're still connected through this bond and you always will be. You will see them again. ♡

Suzie said...

Such powerful words, Gwen.I think about your beauties often and treasure my bracelet, a sweet reminder of your beautiful daughters.💛💛 Although I’ve not lost a child, your words rang true and I feel so much of what you have written.
My heart was shattered when I lost my sweet Daddy on 9/11/2018. My mom, sisters and I were all with him when he took his final breath, for that I am thankful. After his passing, I lost friends too. So many of them were of the mindset...He lived a good life. He was 83. He was ready to go. You always talk about him. You should be over him by now....blah, blah, blah. I just didn’t want them in my world. My circle is much smaller, much more comforting. I feel like if we actually knew each other, we would be great would be in my circle.❤️

I too look at the clouds and see my Daddy. Sometimes for but a small glance and other times for much longer looks, but he is always there comforting me.

~Jack Orlando 7/21/1935 ~ 9/11/2018~

Sending hugs snd so much love.
Love, Suzie

Gillian said...

You gave them the happiest lives! But oh the grief at losing them! My heart breaks for you.

Dawnah said...

There's just no words. You are truly a beautiful soul. Your daughters couldn't have been in a better family. ((((HUGS))))

MKat said...

I cry for you and with you.

Gina Bish said...

Love you, mama. You’re very brave to share another piece of you and the girls. ((Hugs))

Blessedbeemelisa said...

Wow.. no other words but wow. My heart is described here. Xo

Unknown said...


Love for every body said...

Hello. I am writing to you from Iran. I am single. But I would like my future wife to be a woman like you. You are a very strong woman. You love your family. You sacrifice yourself for them. I really love your two beautiful daughters. They are as strong as their mother. I wish you would hear the word mama from them one day. That day I will be the happiest person instead of you. With love, from Iran

Allyssa said...

That song. 💛💛 They answered you. Thank you for writing this.

Holmes said...

Thanks for sharing your heart and being publicly vulnerable. Loss is so hard and difficult to put into words. I mourn with you as I read your words. I find joy and comfort in the gifts that are freely given to us by our loved ones on the other side. After my mother’s passing while in my youth my dad would often remind me that those who live awaiting us in heaven help us so much more than we can ever know or understand. I have felt that and appreciated your words I read today as they have encouraged me to look more earnestly for the signs of love and encouragement sent to me from heaven. God truly is ever mindful of us! Sending you love from a stranger you have never met. 💗

FranA said...

Thank you for your honesty. I can’t imagine losing my child let alone two babies. I am also walking in grief as my husband passed almost 2 years ago. You understand as I do what it’s like when grief hits you. I can only send hugs and prayers to you for peace in your heart . Fran

Unknown said...

Much love to you and your family💕
From Aruba

Bodhisattva said...


Go xxxx yourselves said...

Gwen, I'm not wierd or trying to hurt but is a "Glass-blower" a sexual technique? Is it one he could he demonstrate? ;-)

I'm joking. Hope I put a smile on ...

What I was going to say was an echo of your cpmments re: "Ronald MacDonald homes". My sister cared for a very sick toddler in the early 90s and, this was before these homes, but our families women would come home from this local childrens hospital, which was a specialist and people would have to come from 30-70 miles away, some plucked from washing the dishes with no purse or £ on them. They'd be trying to borrow coins from others. My mother, our mother, used to say like there'd be a young mother on her own or with the partner, and emptying their pockets for the price of a coffee... or to make a call.. My mother wouldn't have watched anyone go without if she had it in her purse.

But what a welcome lifeline these homes became. If people don't know, it's like a free hotel for the parents of sick kids, somewhere they can rest, sleep, phone from? Its their base while they're worried sick about their little one.

I'm not qualified to talk re: death but I can say look after yourself babe, the glassblowers lucky he got to you first! ;-)
The Twisted English guy.

Darcistark said...

Wet faced with tears of sadness and grief over your loss, over the world's loss of claire and Lola.

jay 10/12 said...

I just starting reading your story and um sorry for your loss they looked like good girls and adventure in there own way

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