October 20, 2018 (and every day)
(From the 2018 Walk to Remember)
When Shari asked me to speak, I started to think about what I might want to talk about. I’m a list maker, so I started making a list - I could talk about parenting after loss, because I had twin boys last year and had two older kids before our daughter Lily passed away in 2014. I could talk about how it feels to help my older children Molly & Dylan grieve the loss of their sister. I could talk about staying connected to my husband while we both work through our grief processes. I could talk about how friends and family struggle to know how to support us, and how frustrating and exhausting it is to try to help them figure it out. I could talk about how painful it can be to get through any given Tuesday - especially when, as the years go by, people tend to only show up and offer support on Lily’s birthday, or on the anniversary of her death. I could talk about how hard it is when people ask me how many kids I have, because I feel like I betray Lily if I say 4 instead of 5. I could talk about how hard it is when people suggest that my daughter Molly must love being the only girl. She is not the only girl, I don’t have only one daughter, and Molly very badly wants a sister she can see and touch.
So to prepare to talk today, I sat and I made a list and I thought about what I wanted to talk about. But the truth is that I don’t want to talk about any of these things. I don’t want to talk about these things because they’re painful. They’re sad. They’re hard. So I don’t want to talk about them, but I’m going to, because they’re important. I’m going to talk about these things because this is my story now. I haven’t talked much about Lily yet. She was 9 weeks old when we lost her. She was perfect, and beautiful, and we adored her. She was the only baby whose gender I didn’t know before birth, and when the doctor announced that she was a girl, I was so excited. She had a little Mohawk with blonde highlights, she was my smallest baby, and she looked different than her older siblings, which I liked. I felt like my family was complete, like all of the pieces fit together, and then one day, she was gone. The house was so quiet, and my arms felt so empty. I didn’t know how to tell my kids. I didn’t know how I would ever go back in public, drive a car, or go to the grocery store. I didn’t think I would ever feel happy again. But I did. I do.
I suffer, I grieve, and I feel a lot of pain, but I still feel happy. I still feel joy - pure joy. I actually find myself appreciating my happy moments a lot more than I did before, because I know how deeply I can also feel pain and sadness. I appreciate the small, loyal gestures of my loved ones much more than before. I appreciate the very few moments I get alone with my husband more than ever before. Seeing my husband of 13 years - as of tomorrow - look at my with love in his eyes after everything we have been through makes me know I really picked right and I’ve got the best guy in the world by my side. And I value my kids in a way that I can’t even put into words. Watching my daughter Molly’s love of books, enthusiasm for learning, and excitement over new adventures - all of that makes me proud in a way that fills me to the brim. Her confidence and ability to connect with people is so fantastic and I know it will serve her well as she grows up. The amount of affection my son Dylan has in his pinky makes me feel so loved, and so snuggled - I never have to want for a hug. Seeing him go from preschool to reading confidently in a matter of months was unbelievable, and seeing him be able to invent a game complete with sound effects in just a matter of seconds, makes me smile. And Jack and Charlie are my little rainbow miracles. Finding out on January 27th, 2017 - the day before what would have been Lily’s 3rd birthday - that I was pregnant again - that was a complicated and beautiful moment. I thought maybe the most complicated and beautiful moment of my life, until about 2 weeks later, when I found out that I was pregnant with twins. I thought then, for sure, I had experienced my most
complicated and beautiful moment. Until months later, when I found out that I was having 2 boys. At first I couldn’t decide if I was grateful to not have to navigate having another girl, or disappointed. Then a few more months later, it got pretty complicated again when I realized - these boys are identical. Exact copies. Not something that was obvious based on the way they were growing in utero, but clear to the eye and confirmed by a DNA test. I’m pretty sure i have more complicated and hard moments ahead, but I’m also sure i have more beautiful ones ahead too. My faith may have been shaken by losing Lily, but I still believe in something bigger than what I can see - because now I believe that Lily is with me, and she wants me to know that. My parents are both in the medical field and I grew up a pretty practical girl. But I still really believe that Lily had a hand in sending me those boys. Looking at my amazing children, I know there is still beauty in this world. So I hope that is a message of hope to anyone who is suffering today, to anyone who is just starting out on this very rocky path, or to anyone trying to support someone through it. There is light ahead. It’s ok to be happy. It doesn’t mean we forget - Lily is in my heart, in my mind, in my thoughts every single day - there is no forgetting. She will always be my daughter. I feel a lot of pain knowing that I will not get to see her grow, but I would do it all over again just to have those nine weeks with her. I appreciate every minute I had with her, and I value all of the minutes I have with the rest of my beautiful family.
- Melissa Isaacs