It’s been almost 3 years since Rachel came and left us. We never had a memorial service for her. At the time, we didn’t think it was worth it. No one knew her, she only lived 2 days. I just couldn’t picture a memorial service like one that everyone knows. One where there are songs, people speaking about their memories of the lost person. What was there for us to speak about? She was in an incubator for 2 days; I held her for the first time to comfort her as her heart slowly stopped beating. There was no first smile, no first word, no learning how to ride a bike, school graduations, or adventures around the world. So really, what would have taken place at her memorial service?
Each year, during the month of October, the hospital I gave birth to Rachel at holds a pregnancy and infant loss memorial service. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I had received a brochure each hear to attend the ceremony, but never did. We always had something going on. This year, as I found the invitation in my mailbox, I dropped it on the desk in front of my husband and firmly told him, “I’m going this year, no matter what.”
“Okay.” he replied.
I invited a friend who recently had a stillbirth to join me. We traveled together to the memorial service where we met up with two other women from my support group. There was music (violin music which we quickly realized that although fitting for the occasion, was not helpful in holding back anxiety and tears), a speaker who shared her story of her loss; a time of name calling where our children’s names were called and us, the parents, got to light a candle for them. We then proceeded to the memorial garden where we laid flowers and dedicated new memorial bricks.
The woman that shared her story was Ivy. She led my support group at the hospital. Ivy lost her first born child to what was diagnosed as a cord accident. She shared her experience with her pregnancy and how it abruptly and tragically ended at 37 weeks. She shared her pain, hurt, and grief process with us. Although it’s been 16 years ago, Ivy’s emotions were still raw as she shared about her daughter.
That speech, that is something that would have been shared at Rachel’s memorial service. The story of the 6 months I spent with her, in my belly, and the 2 days on the outside. Do I have regrets about not having a service for Rachel? Sometimes. But I know I can’t change the past and the fact that I have a memory of her and a yearly memorial service to go to for her and other babies is what helps me going some days.
Maybe one day I will be sharing my story with others in the way that Ivy shared hers with us. If I do, I hope that Rachel will be there holding my hand through it all.