I didn’t realize it then, but our healing started almost immediately. In the midst of our pain, there were healers all around us. Our community showed up and showed out.
Our nurses assured us we could stay in the room for as long as we wanted to and let us know that later that day, we would be visited by a social worker who would help us navigate setting up arrangements for our son. The nurses checked in on Kevin and me equally and gave us privacy as we allowed our bodies to release the anguish through tears. This was healing.
The hospital staff cleaned our baby and handed him over to us. He was dressed in a tiny hat and gown made especially for premature babies by amazing volunteers from a nonprofit called Angel Outfitters, who didn’t even know us. He was wrapped in two blankets, and we were gifted his hands and feet prints which would later become memorial tattoos for Kevin and me. What a gift. They also took pictures of our sweet boy and gifted us a memorial box with mementos to honor our son. The photos they had taken were already printed and gently placed in the box. Photos that are now treasures. This was healing.
Kevin’s parents arrived at the hospital shortly after KDB was handed to us, and they stayed strong for us despite also feeling the heartbreak. My eldest brother drove an hour to see us at 3:00 am to give his baby sister a much-needed hug and kept my other brother and sister in the loop. My sister, who had also lost her first baby boy at 18 weeks pregnant several years prior, was with me over the phone, and we grieved together, honoring our babies and hoping they would find each other in heaven. She encouraged me to spend as much time as possible with our son, despite the pain, because these moments were still precious. She guided me and held me even from afar in a way no one else could. She, unfortunately, understood my pain. I write this in honor of her baby too. This was healing.
After a few hours, we came to terms, at least for a moment, that we could not keep our son forever, and it was time to make decisions for his arrangements. Our son would be cremated, and his remains would be returned to us in a few weeks. The social worker was kind and reiterated that we could stay with our son for as long as necessary. Handing KDB over to the funeral home was incredibly painful, but at that moment, I was a mother doing what was best for my child despite my torment. Once KDB left the room, I no longer wanted to be there. It was now the room I had lost my son in, and I wanted to jump out of my skin the longer we were there. Kevin and I returned home, and I lost it. I wanted to break everything in sight but settled for furiously punching our living room couch. Thankfully I had the most patient and understanding husband (boyfriend at the time) because he stood by my side as I fell apart and gently put the pieces together when I was ready. This moment of rage was healing too.
The next day my mom was on the first flight to California to be with me, and Kevin’s mother immediately began planning our son’s funeral. The ceremony was bittersweet, but we showed up for our son and honored his life despite his short time with us. This was healing.
Our loved ones honored him too. My best friend’s mom had birth announcements made for KDB and gifted me a beautiful necklace with his initials. My sorority sister sent me vegan cookies, and I received beautiful messages from loved ones who didn’t expect me to reply. During one of my lowest moments, when Kevin was out of town, one of my best friends drove 8 hours to sit with me for two and drove back in time for work. I believe she saved my life that day. This was healing.
I began working with a therapist a few months later, specializing in grief, because I was still incredibly angry at God and my dad, and I was no longer speaking to either. Through our work, I began opening myself up to dialogue with my dad. Before my son’s death, I would speak to my dad daily. Even though he was no longer here physically, I felt his presence and knew he was watching over me. Since losing my son, I didn’t want to talk about him, let alone talk to him. Until I finally had a dream with him. He was sitting at the top of a snowy mountain. It was nighttime, but the moonlight was shining right on him. I could see him clearly sitting in a wheelchair, and I marched right up to him. I didn’t say a word to him. I used all the rage I had inside me to push him off the mountain as hard as I could. Then I received a phone call from my sister telling me that my dad was dead and someone had pushed him over the mountain. I began to cry hysterically, and then my dad reappeared. I buried my face in his chest and apologized for pushing him. In between sobs, I explained that I was just SO ANGRY, but I didn’t mean to hurt him. He held me as I cried, reassuring me that he understood. I woke up from the dream with a soaked pillow case and a new perspective on my grief. I recognized then that if my dad could’ve saved my son, he would’ve. This was healing.
Read from the beginning here – Go to Part I
Read the next and final part – Go to Part V