By Angela Davis
I was having twins! I was so excited, and so was my family. I already had a little boy, Ryan, and my husband and I were newly married. It seemed that we were truly blessed. We started to make the normal preparations after waiting the normal three month period; you know the one where at every little twitch sends you running to the Doctors.
We had made it through that and were now actually able to believe that we would soon be bringing home two precious babies. So, we proceeded in buying sets of everything. Then the horror of that year began. Late one afternoon I started bleed. We quickly went to the Emergency Room, where they did an examination.
After several hours of pain and fear, the doctors came and spoke to me. He said that I was definitely suffering a spontaneous abortion (How horrible the thought), but then added that he needed to do an ultrasound because he could feel a large mass and he wanted to find out what it was.
He stated that it was probably nothing and told me not to worry, but I heard him talking to the nurse that it was probably a tumor. I remember thinking to myself, at the time, what more could possibly go wrong.
In the ultrasound room the technician had the monitor turned away from me, so unlike the many times I sat watching the babies inside me. She looked quite grim at first, and then an expression came across her face, that words can't describe. She quickly turned the monitor so I could see. There was one of my babies. I can still feel the confusion of the mixed feelings I had that day. I was so glad that I still had a baby growing inside of me, but I felt empty at the loss of the other one. I couldn't think of this baby as being one, he/she (At the time we didn't know) was always to me, a part of a set. I felt that it now would never be whole.
The pregnancy from that point on was one of cautious watching. I had to undergo many tests and twice as many office visits. We found out in subsequent ultrasounds that she was indeed a little girl, and I mean real little.
At 38 weeks I was taken in to the hospital. My water had broken and I could tell it wouldn't be long. When we arrived at the hospital she had her little foot already out. Yet another complication. The doctors were afraid that she wouldn't be able to take a natural birth let alone a breech one, so off to the operating room I went.
Coming out of the anesthetic I learned that she was perfectly healthy weighing in at just 3 pounds 14 ounces. She was so little yet perfectly formed. We stayed our allotted 2 days in the hospital and we were both released together.
We had already taken back the extra clothing for her twin, but the memories of her existence were still etched in my heart. I wondered if she too, missed her twin. I would hold her for hours talking to her and it looked as if she understood. I would say that she had a sibling in heaven, that she would one day meet. I thought I even caught a glimpse of a smile when I told her.
Her brother Ryan loved her dearly. He gave her the nickname Four-Tenths. Why? We have no clue. He was just two years old and didn't have any concept of the fraction, but it fit. He would play on the floor with her, and share all his toys. He even tried to teach her to say Bubby, (Which he is now commonly known as by his younger sisters).
It was during the Christmas season, when she was born. (December 6,1987) The house was all full of hustle and bustle. Christmas morning was such a sight. Packages, torn paper, ribbons, and bows were scattered all through the house. After the gifts were all opened, we set out for the houses of family and friends. The day was filled with packaged surprises and good things to eat.
We finally arrived at the last house on our list. Anticipating more goodies, my son jumped out of the car and headed for his papa's house. My father met us at the door and let us in. He had a somber look upon his face. He had me sit down and he would explain. He told me that my great-grandfather was in the hospital and that it didn't look like he would make it through the night. He had me sit with my great-grandmother while he went to the hospital to be with my grandfather. I pleaded with him to let me go too, but he thought it best for me to say. He promised that he would call when the end was near so that I could go and say good-bye, but my grandfather died before he reached the hospital.
He called to let me know and told me to start making the necessary phone calls. (I was chosen because they thought me to be the strongest and best choice). I finished that task before my father returned and I wondered if I should tell Grandma. I thought best that I not, and I lied to her so many times as I sat waiting for my dad. "Yes Grandma, he'll be all right." Those words taste so bitter now.
My father arrived at nearly 12:00 that night. I still had to get home and clean up the aftermath of the morning's bounty. I sat holding Grandmas' hand as my dad told her the news. It didn't seem to come as any surprise. She said she all ready knew. We held each other for a while and then I wrapped my children up and took them home.
The days that followed were filled with visitations, funeral preparations, and trips to the airport to pick up out-of-town relatives. I hate to say it, but the only time that we can get family together is when someone dies. We all would meet at the funeral home and everyone would catch up on the dramas' of each other's lives. I had suggested on several occasions to take a family photograph while we were all together. We had five generations in one place, a feat that in this day and age nearly impossible to accomplish. It met with the same responses by all. " Not today", or, "Maybe tomorrow", they would chime.
The day of my grandfathers' funeral was bitter cold. It being the 29th of December in the middle of Michigan, no one expected anything different. We assembled at the funeral home for a brief service, then filed into our prospective cars in the procession. We drove passed the firehouse where my grandfather used to work. Outside, standing at attention in full dress, where firefighters old and new. A few moments later we arrived at the cemetery where I would see my grandfather for the last time.
Afterwards we went to my grandmother's house, and had a small dinner. We talked of old times and made plans to get together again under better circumstances. (Which non of them were carried out) We were all saying our good-byes to those that were heading home the next morning, when I again asked about a photograph. I received the same response as before. We made plans to meet again in the spring, that is when we would take the photo. I was disappointed by their response, but they were insistent that we would all be together again soon. I relented, and said my good-byes.
I didn't go home that night. Looking back, I don't know exactly why. I wanted to be with my mother is all I can remember. Another thing strikes me funny too. I have always had my babies sleep with me and that night I didn't want Cassy with me. I chalked it up the grief of losing Grandfather, and made a pallet out of blankets and tucked her in there. I was so exhausted I didn't even hear her get up for her normal 4:00 am feeding. Although I usually nursed her, my husband got up and made her a bottle of formula and fed her. When he had finished, he laid her on top of my chest where she normally would have slept. He later told me that I wrapped my arms around her and kissed her gently on her forehead. I don't remember this, though I wish I did.
My first realization of the horror morning would bring is a gentle voice inside my head telling me about the fate of my little girl. It said simply, "She's gone." I thought to myself that I was just playing mind games. I prodded myself to open my eyes and that I would see that she was just fine. I hesitated for a moment. I knew that she was lying on top of me. I could feel her little form beneath the covers. I nudged her a little trying to arouse her before I chanced a glimpse. She didn't stir. I panicked. I said to myself, "Just open your eyes and you'll see her beautiful face peering back at you." How wrong I was. I opened my eyes ever so slightly and was just appalled at what I saw. I started screaming at my husband that she was dead. All he could do was to take her from me and he went to get my mother. She tried CPR, which sickened me even worse. I felt the coldness of her body, the still lifeless form of my baby. I knew in my heart that there was nothing anyone could do. I can't remember who called 911, I think I did, but I can't say for sure.
I remember the paramedics taking her into the other room to again attempt to restore her life. Just moments later they were back with me, embracing me, comforting me. They too felt my loss. I could see it in their eyes. They said there was nothing to be done. I can recall being confused by all the people who were there. It seemed that they were multiplying. Paramedics, the Sheriff's, the County, City, and State Police, the Coroner and my brother, Kelly. How did everyone get here? I didn't understand.
I want to tell you a little bit about my family's experiences that morning before I go on. This I found out after the fact, and adds to this tale. My stepfather awoke at 7:00 am to check on the baby. He said that he felt that there was something wrong and wanted to see if we were all right. He peeked his head into the room and assumed that we were all silently sleeping. My sister-in-law drove past the house at 7:30 am and felt that there was trouble. She later called to find out how we were. My brother Kelly was leaving for work at 8:00 am and he felt the need to come over before he went in. He pulled in the back driveway as the ambulance was pulling in the front. It seems that I was not the only one who heard a small voice that morning. I feel it was Gods' way in trying to protect me.
Now I will go on, I just felt this wouldn't be complete without those details. Kelly drove us to the hospital. That was the longest drive of my life. I knew what awaited me there. I wasn't too sure that I wanted to go, but I knew I had to. When we arrived, the nurses ushered us into a tiny room. (Too many of us knows that room too well) We were bombarded with the usual questions, and when one ran out of questions, another person would enter with even more. The doctor finally came in with the news I already knew. She was dead. He wanted to know if I would like to go visit with her. I was appalled, as far as I was concerned, my baby was gone. How could I ever visit her?
Finally I conceded to the visit after many discussions with the doctors, staff counselors, and my husband. I was lead down the hallway and into a room. It was so cold in there. I moved over to the side of the bed where Cassy was lain. The doctor startled me as he entered the room. He then proceeded to do an examination. How could he? The last thing I recall is he pulling her eyelids open, and seeing the yellow discoloration of the whites of her eyes. I was then lost. I just kept running and crying and crying and running. Where could I have gone to escape this pain?
When I finally stopped, I just knelt on the floor and sobbed. My husband found me and helped me back to our little room. Now was the time to make the phone calls. I remembered doing that very same thing a week ago. That was when everyone believed I was strong. Believed that I could handle it. Well who could be strong for me now? How alone I felt. I had to make those calls myself. I had to tell everyone how weak I really was. I needed them and that made it worse. I was the one they counted on. I was their rock. I had to tell them that I was merely human.
I made it through the notification process and was preparing to leave the hospital when they started again with their questions and forms. This time it was about the funeral home that we wanted and then came there bomb; an autopsy. I understand the necessity of it now, but at the time it was such an awful thought. They started encircling me in the legalities and requested that I signed their form. I refused again and again. I couldn't understand why they needed my signature, they said that it would be done anyway. I wouldn't budge on this point. No amount of explanations or no matter their reasoning, there would be know way that I was going to give my permission for that kind of atrocity. I knew what autopsies entail. Do it if they must, but I wasn't going to be any part of its' doing.
After leaving the hospital my stepfather and my father drove me to the funeral home. We had to make the arrangements. What a nightmare. I was glad that my fathers were there with me, and supported me with everything I wanted. The administrator tried real hard not to come across as insensitive, but he couldn't understand my situation. He started out by asking me what I wanted, then it turned into something else. Every time I would say that I wanted this or that, he would reply with an excuse as to why they usually don't do it with infants. My God, aren't babies people too? From the request for a scheduled visitation, to a funeral procession, to open casket, he had reasons. I thought that if I was willing to pay than why wouldn't he do it. My fathers talked to him alone for a few minutes and he seemed to be a little more cooperative.
We ended up having two evening visitations and one afternoon, where her casket would be open. I relinquished the procession, and we were finally to the point of choosing the casket. It turned into another battle. I don't want to offend anyone so I won't tell you what I thought of the choices of infant caskets, but I didn't find them pleasing. I wanted pink with white satin interior; he would show me yellow. I wanted this style he showed me that. Finally I just walked out. How could he be like this? My baby was important. I wasn't going to just put her into the ground. I was giving her, her final resting place.
They called me later to tell me that they found a child's sized casket 3 1/2 feet long that fit my requirements and that it was being shipped in from out of state. When we went to the visitation there it was. How small she looked in it. I had given them the dress she wore on Christmas. She looked so much different than when I had last seen her. They did such a nice job with her make-up that I had to remind myself that she was dead. I asked if the funeral home had a rocking chair, and if they had, if they would bring it in. They did. I then asked if everyone would excuse me for a minute so I could share some time alone with my daughter. After they left the room I walked up to her and gently picked her up. I then noticed that they had put her dress on backward. I unfastened her buttons and turned it around. I then dressed my daughter again that one last time. I can't describe the sight I seen beneath her clothes, but it is one that I shall never forget.
I went and sat in the rocking chair where I rocked her and sang her favorite lullaby. Family members then wandered in to see what I was doing. They didn't understand, but left me be. They weren't surprised when I repeated this each time we went, some even asked if they could hold her too. It seemed like an eternity until her funeral. She died over a holiday weekend therefore we had a little more time, but the inevitable day came when I would hold her one last time.
I made sure that we got to the funeral home early. I wanted to have some time alone with her. Her room wasn't ready yet, but they set me in a private room and brought her to me. I talked to her again about her twin. I told her that I knew that they were again whole and complete. I told her how much I missed her, and that I loved her very much. I couldn't bring myself to kiss her. That is one thing I regret now. Everyone began to arrive and that signaled me to finally put her to rest one last time.
I laid her down in her casket, and tucked her in with her quilt. I gathered all her stuffed animals, dolls, and toys. I laid them around her so she would never be alone. A small Bible I laid above her head. (It was opened to the 23rd Psalm) I whispered good-bye as I tucked a pink rose beneath her arm, and turned and went to my seat. I don't remember much of the service. I know that it was performed by a catholic priest from my father's church. (I am not catholic, but didn't know anyone else.) When it was over everyone went up and added small tokens to her eternal bed. I don't know what all they were, but I saw that my younger brother Andy added his gold ID bracelet that he had gotten for Christmas.
I dropped one last thing in beside her. The letters that I had written to my babies while I was pregnant. It was something I started the day I found out I was pregnant, in hopes that we would share them together when they grew up.
I have but one picture of my daughter Cassy left. Everyone said that there would be time tomorrow. That we would be together again soon. I now have a lifetime to wait for something that could have been done yesterday.
I would like to share a verse from the book of James, that if I had read it before hand I probably would have taken that picture.
Go to now, ye that say, To day or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, an buy and sell, and get gain:
Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
For that ye ought to sat, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.
Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him is sin.
Written by Angela Davis
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