A conversation I’ve thought of over and over again occurred before Paul & I drove back up to the hospital to be induced. We had been wondering around the house, in shock, trying to process what was about to happen. I was sitting on the edge of our couch, both of us were in tears because we had just gotten off the phone with our best friends, and I turned to Paul and asked “She’ll always be our first born, right?”. Paul nodded through his tears and we just kind of sat there. I remember asking myself in my head “right? right? RIGHT?” like saying it over and over again would make it better.
For parents of children who have died there is an overwhelming fear that your child will be forgotten. But what about a baby that never lived out of the womb? How will people remember her? She lived with us for 36 weeks and 5 days. We knew her. I knew her sleeping patterns. She knew her father’s voice, she would always kick in response to Paul yelling into my tummy “HEY BABY!!!”.
So, when it came time to plan her memorial I knew in my heart I had to get up and speak. I had an overwhelming sense of urgency to talk about my daughter. To tell our close family and friends what we knew about Cora. So they would remember her. Remember her impact on our lives and hopefully be impacted themselves. Below are the words I spoke in honor of our girl.
“Since Paul & I knew her best, I wanted to share a few things about our Cora:
She had a particular love of music. She was most active in the mornings when I would play my music loudly on the way to work, mostly singing Adele or Kelly Clarkson, she would wiggle & kick the whole ride. In the evenings, we would hook up speakers to my belly and play classical music for her. Occasionally, we would play Disney Radio. She always kicked and moved around in response to the music. One of her strongest responses to music was to the organ played at our church. This brought such joy to our Sunday mornings.
She was very stubborn when it came to her comfort. She spent most of her time camped out on the left side of my belly, refusing to move no matter how many times I poked or prodded her. She also had a strong opinion on which side I was to sleep on at night. If she did not like it, she would kick and kick until I rolled over to the side of her choice.
She showed off at her sonograms. We were lucky enough to see our girl many more times than the average pregnancy so we got to see her tap her toes, yawn, hug her feet up to her head, and suck her thumb.
She would always respond to Paul’s voice.
She would get hiccups at night when we laid down to go to bed.
She was 21.5 inches long and 5 lbs 11 oz. She had beautiful brown hair (like mine), chubby cheeks, 10 perfect fingers, and 10 very long toes…with pinky toes that crooked just like Paul’s. Paul picked our her name <3. Her middle name, Lou, is to honor Paul’s grandfather, Louis, and my grandmother, Loretta.
There is a quote in the most recent Cinderella movie that I thought was such an important lesson for children & adults to learn. The quote is is simple & short: “Have courage & be kind.” Well, it turns out our Cora taught us that lesson instead of us getting the chance to teach her. Cora has taught us:
To have the courage to get up each day and know that our days will get better
To have the courage to let love in, instead of anger and bitterness
To have the courage to try again, knowing we have no more control than we did the first time
To have the courage to run towards each other, instead of pushing each other away
To be kind to ourselves and each other knowing some days are going to be tougher than others.
To be kind to those around us for we have a deeper understanding of “you never know what someone is going through”
To have the courage to cling to our faith, when it is easier to give up
and, To have the courage to be hopeful again
Cora opened my heart to a kind of love that I never knew was possible. Because of Cora, Paul & I became closer with our parents, siblings, and friends. Cora’s life brought new people into our lives and we will cherish those relationships.
Cora’s life has strengthened our marriage. She showed Paul & I that our love runs deep and together we can get through this. We will carry her in our hearts forever.”
I don’t remember a lot of the speech but I remember when I got down to the lessons Cora had taught us I spoke and looked directly at Paul. It was almost like pledge to him, to our marriage, and to the memory of our daughter. The memorial was his first time to hear my words so I wanted him to know that our daughter’s death wasn’t going to break us. I wanted everyone in that room to see that through our heartbreak, through our tears and disappointment of losing our child there was still hope.
Cora’s death has changed me. I can feel it every day. I don’t get as frustrated with small things and drama that occurs within daily life. Her life and death has put into perspective what is important. I don’t need to accomplish everything on my to-do list and it’s okay if we don’t get all of the chores done. It’s okay to cry in the ribbons at Michael’s because your wedding song came on or cry after having to give your friend’s baby back to their parents leaving your arms empty once again. It’s totally okay to eat cookie butter out of the jar while watching way too much Grey’s Anatomy or Downton Abbey. Its okay to feel really great one day and like crap the next.
It will be 6 months on Saturday since we’ve lost Cora. I feel like it’s been 6 years or like I’ve been through a war. However, I have spent the past six months trying to live my life with courage and kindness. To live a life that would make Cora proud and to honor her memory. Even though she is not with us here, I am still her mom. I owe it to her to pick myself up and live for the both of us.
I have shared this story with you in hopes that you will be impacted on some level. And if you’re a loss parent reading this, know that your child’s life matters. No matter how much or how little time you got with your child, their life is important. Your loss is important and I am walking with you every day in your grief. If you never had the chance to honor your child’s memory or didn’t have the strength after your loss..it’s never too late.
Happy half birthday to our sweet angel in Heaven. We love you and we will never, ever forget you.
Cheers to the bright side ❤
An amazing sono of Cora yawning :).