"Death Of A Dream"
by Dana Gensler, Lindsay's Mum
Lindsay Nicole Gensler, daughter of Phil & Dana Gensler of Kentucky,
was born on May 23, 1989 and died on her due-date -- May 25, 1989 --
from Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. We will love her always and
forever feel her presence.
We had 270 sweet days together. Nine whole months to get to know
her and love her and imagine her. I remember the joy of feeling her
within: stretching, turning, growing. Nights when her daddy would kiss
my very big belly, "Now go to sleep, my precious one."
Perfect pregnancy. Perfect labor. Perfect dreams. And then she was
born . . .
Terror grips my heart as I strain to catch a glimpse of quiet,
blue, limpness. Cry, Baby Girl! A flurry of activity. A tiny whimper; a
strong cry. Thank you God for answered prayers.
Three hours later: "Could you please bring our little girl to the
"Uh . . . we can't bring her out just yet."
I knew then. I knew! Long night. Brief visits to NICU. An
emergency baptism. Dawn breaks and Life-Flight.
She's twenty-four hours old. A call: "I'm sorry. There's nothing we
can do." What are you saying? "You better come! Quick!"
Speeding down the interstate at one a.m. Must get to her, must get
to her. Quick! Silent craziness. Silent screams.
Oh my God, there she is. "Lindsay . . ." I sing. "Mommy's here. Can
you open your eyes for me, Little Girl?"
So quiet. So still. So perfect. Oblivious to the gauges and alarms
surrounding her to tell of impending death. Medication pumps, IVs,
tangled arterial lines. Gentle whooshing of the ventilator. Rhythmic
beeping of the cardiac monitor.
She's still my perfect baby, except half of her heart is missing.
Big decisions to make. Dear Lord, don't make us say the words. Let
her go. Let her stay. Let her go . . .
In a blur I take her in my arms, gaze into her face and whisper
tender secrets just for her. Can she hear me? Does she know she is on
her way to heaven?
She closes her white hand around my finger and sighs in relief.
(Does death feel anything like birth?)
Her sweet daddy kneels beside us, weeping. Now he paces, gently
swaying her in his arms, chanting nursery rhymes as his tears fall upon
her cooling cheek.
Time races. Now again, creeps at a snail's pace.
Hold her with me, Phil, she's dying.
Oh . . . Sweet Little Lindsay. Poor little girl.
Tender lullabies to eternal sleep.
Her heartbeat is silent now. Mine thunders on.
Tears and mourning and grief.
Nothing's the way it's supposed to be.
Discussing burials. Inspecting caskets.
Calling the priest about a funeral.
"Hello, Doctor? Her milk came in today. What should I do?" She
should be nuzzling my breasts.
She's three days old, so we drive all over town looking for a white
satin blanket. Satin, to wrap around our dead baby . . .
Slipping into the funeral home to see our Lindsay one last time. "Is
she still dead today?"
"I'm sorry," they say in their well-modulated funereal voices.
"We've had some problems. You can't touch her."
How can I not touch her?
Friends come. Friends go. Must show them the guest of honor. Take a
left to the front of the room. Here. Laying in a bed of pure white;
forever dressed in pink. Surrounded by flowers. So beautiful. So still.
Instead of congratulations, we receive condolences. I watch their
lips form words, but barely hear what they say. Tears. Laughter.
Endless chatter of other things. Other things . . . Too afraid to
mention the precious baby in the tiny white box.
(Maybe we won't remember her cradle will be empty again tonight.)
Falling. Fighting blankness. "I don't want to leave her. I don't
want to leave her." Help me, Lord. It's time to bury our baby.
No pall bearers, no hearse to carry our little box of dreams to the
cemetery. Her daddy wipes at my endless tears. Her Grand-Jenny's hand
upon my brow. Sun's so bright.
Deep down I feel a flicker of movement. But no . . . she doesn't
live there anymore. Few got to hold her, few got to know her, but she
existed! She is dead, but she is real!
I remember her birth, her sweet newborn scent, and the exquisite
bliss of cuddling her. She looked in my eyes once; I heard her cry once;
she grasped my finger once.
I said "I love you" and "I'm so sorry", and I kissed her good-bye
again and again and again.
Good-bye? So wrong! So empty! We shouldn't be sitting here beside
this miniature grave, clutching the little bonnet she wore as she died.
Death is not a word to associate with newborn babies.
I remember nine whole months loving, as my heart beat for hers.
Laughter, eagerness, perfectly innocent dreams.
Then our perfect baby, our Sweet Little Lindsay . . . is gone.
And our lives are changed forever.
This poem is one from a collection of poems I have written in a
book titled "Heartsongs: After a Baby Dies".