It has been four months since our Cora joined the angels in Heaven. I have had a lot of time to reflect on many things these past 4 months but I keep coming back to our community. Our “tribe” if you will. I have had many people tell me that they do not know how I am so strong or that I have been very brave. I firmly believe, now more than ever, that a person is predisposed to respond to tragedy/grief a certain way. You cannot help how to respond initially or how you process your grief. I am not shocked by my response, I have never felt more myself than enduring what we have endured. However, we would not have survived without our tribe. Our community of family and friends has always been important to Paul & I. But now we fully appreciate how all of the people in our lives showed up for us and supported us. We were never alone in this tragedy, never.
On our way to the hospital Paul & I discussed on if we wanted to see anyone. Our initial reaction was no. Maybe some family to let them in to see us but we anticipated wanting to be alone. But our tribe, our community knew us better. When we got settled into our room we heard a knock at the door. In walked Paul’s assistant principal. We were in shock, how had she found us? Once she heard the news she told us she prayed for God to lead her to us and so she went to Baylor. She then convinced the nurses that she was family and came right down to our room. I think she got there before the doctors! She prayed with us and asked if she could just sit with me. I’ve always thought this woman had a particular hotline to God…now I’m convinced. It was touching and so comforting.
Soon after she left, our family and friends arrived. By the carload. I remember looking up at one point and counting over 12 people in my room. There weren’t enough places to sit. I remember them making me laugh or just telling me it was going to be okay. My best friend canceled her trip and drove immediately to Dallas to be with me. I will never forget that selflessness. Another of my best friends was there with her, bringing me lots of comfort. Two of my favorite men in the world came to see me. They came into my life because of volleyball but they showed up on my darkest day. To sit with me in the hospital and just support me. Their presence comforted me in ways I cannot describe.
Our entire family showed up. It was incredibly difficult to see our families in so much pain. Not only were our parents mourning the loss of their grandchild, they were hurting for their own children. My siblings and Paul’s brother had to endure the loss of a niece while taking care of their sibling. My aunt, who is a delivery nurse, stayed with me the entire time to make sure I knew what was going on. She helped explain a lot of our options and also made sure we understand what was happening. My uncle made sure everyone was fed and that we knew we could ask him for anything. My other aunt & uncle came down to see me and check on my parents as well. I’ll never forget my aunt leaning in and assuring me that Cora would never be forgotten.
I started out my mommy journey with two other wonderful women. One has been one of my best friends for a few years now and the other we got close over the course of our pregnancies by reassuring each other of our crazy :). Both of these women showed up for me on that day. They were very pregnant and came to the hospital to see me. I thought it would be hard to see them but it wasn’t for a second. My heart was broken but their kindness, their selfless showed me a new kind of grace that day. They could have been scared away by the situation and I would not have blamed them. They were not, they stayed with me and my family the entire night. Their babies were supposed to be Cora’s playmates. They showed up for me that day despite this being their biggest fear and I will never in my life forget that kindness.
In the weeks after we lost Cora, we received hundreds of cards, messages, phone calls, and emails from more of our community. A meal train was set up by my sister and one of Paul’s very good friends. We did not have to cook any meals for ourselves for over 2 months. For TWO months people took time out of their day to make sure that Paul & I had food on our table and felt loved. I cried everyday reading the kind words of people who took the time to make a difference in our day. A counselor at Paul’s school sends us a card every week (she still does) to let us know that we are still on her mind. Other friends sent us a wind chime that we have in our backyard, any time we hear it we think of Cora. Women from my service league welcomed me to a meeting two weeks after giving birth to Cora..I think some of them were shocked to see me there. Frankly, I was shocked I was there. But they were so kind and made me feel welcome.
Our rugby family played a game the day after Cora was born. They hung a sign up on the fence by the field that read “Boyd Strong” and kicked the crap out of the team they played that day. To our rugby family, thank you for taking care of Paul. Paul returned to rugby a week or so after Cora and I could feel the impact on his grieving. Our DRFC family means the world to us but I have never been more thankful for this group than I was when Paul had somewhere to go to get his frustration out. And to laugh with again. And to just feel normal. His teammates are like brothers to him and they showed up for us. In so many ways the team (and their better halves 🙂 ) showed up for us. Thank you DRFC.
Another special group I want to mention is all of the loss moms who have reached out to me. I have had several women reach out to me to ensure that I knew about support groups and to let me know that I wasn’t alone. They had walked the same path I am walking and they were willing to be there with any advice or help that I needed. One mother shared the same doctor as me. We met up for coffee for what I would of thought would have only been an hour or so but we talked for hours. Sharing intimate details of our experiences even though we’d just met each other. She was so kind but also so candid. She didn’t sugarcoat her experiences and I appreciated that. Her honestly allowed me to realize that I’m going to have some tough days ahead but that’s okay. I can still survive.
Over a hundred people showed up in our backyard to honor Cora at her memorial. Our best friends, family, teammates, colleagues, and students stopped by our house to let us know that we are loved. Our daughter is loved. To provide us with a little sunshine during our darkest days. They came into Cora’s nursery to look at her footprints and to see how we had decorated it (Harry Potter, duh 🙂 ). We had friends fly in or drive hours to be with us. Paul & I felt so loved that day. Even though we were going through hell, we weren’t going through it alone.
So, to our community, to our friends and family, thank you. Thank you for loving us and for standing by us. Thank you for not treating us differently or tip-toeing around us. Thank you for talking to us about our daughter and acknowledging her.Thank you for every single message, email, note, phone call, etc. I have read or listened to them all. I have also kept them all. I have not thrown anything away. I reread them often when I am feeling low. They remind me that we are so loved and that Cora is so loved. Our tribe showed up for us when we needed them the most. And we will never ever forget that.
Cheers to the bright side <3.