This week reminded me quite a few times how weak and raw I still am over Hailey's death. I HATE that about grief. As soon as you think you're on the upswing and stronger than ever... BAM! ...it slaps you upside the face, punches you in the stomach, and reminds you that all is still not even close to okay. The constant roller coaster is horrible and scary because deep down inside I know that on those "up" days there's a crest somewhere ahead I'm going hit and slowly go over just to come speeding down a huge hill into the valley below. This week was one of those times when the valley below felt very deep.
Last Wednesday, after a wonderful morning with my mom and Ava, I put Ava down for her nap and for some unknown reason decided to go back and read of couple of the first entries I had written in my blog. As I have mentioned before, I have never gone back and read any of my previous entries because of the pain and memories associated with each one. So I was a little hesitant and shaky as I started the first one, but continued on. By the time I was done with the second one, I was becoming quite emotional so I stopped for a few minutes and started watching the slide show of pictures. After about 10 pictures I had tears pouring down my face and sobs in my chest. I couldn't believe how much strong, raw emotion I still had deep down inside. Seeing Hailey's little smiling face, so happy, especially in my arms or with Lexi just ripped my heart out. I missed her so much and ached for those days back. I decided to stop there and try again some other time.
The funny thing is, those first two entries didn't really even talk about Hailey's death. The first one was more of an introduction as to why I started writing this blog and the second one was an explanation of my religious beliefs regarding where Hailey is. I can't imagine how I would have handled continuing on to read the next entry entitled, "That Fateful Day." As for the pictures, I've seen them all a bunch of times, so I wasn't quite prepared for how strongly they would affect me, but I guess once those emotions are unleashed, anything Hailey related is quite painful.
That experience really caught me off guard as to how weak I still am and how much Hailey's loss still hurts. I don't cry very often anymore. I thought I was getting used to my "new life" without her here, so I guess I just started to believe that I was in some way "getting over" the sting of her death. I put that in quotation marks because I'll never truly get over her death, but I'm hoping one day the intense shock and pain will wear off a little.
The next day, while Ava was in preschool, I decided to go visit Hailey for a while. When I pulled in I noticed that two rows behind Hailey's spot (which is only about 20 feet) there was a setup for a grave side service. Hailey is buried on what's referred to as "Baby Hill," where it's all children and infants, so I shouldn't have been too shocked when there on a table was the smallest casket I had ever seen, probably only half the size of Hailey's. This didn't sit well with me for two reasons, 1.) I've been there and it's the worst thing in the entire world, and 2.) I'm about to have a baby that would fit perfectly in that little box.
After a brief moment of hesitation, I decided to continue on and sit with Hailey since no one had arrived yet. As I was polishing her stone and all the knickknacks around it, a lady and two men showed up. I'm not sure who they were, but of course I kept to myself and tried to give them some privacy. However, I could feel the emotion and compassion for them swelling in my chest. All of sudden, one of the men started strumming on a guitar and quietly practicing the song he was going to sing during the service. In between his singing, I could hear the sobs of the woman behind me, which then caused me to lose it too. Memories of "that" day came rushing back to me and I wanted so badly to get up and run over to that woman and hug her as tight as possible and tell her how truly sorry I was and how unfair I know it all is. I let my tears fall and whispered to Hailey to watch over that new little baby laying by her and then quietly got up and left. Once in the car I was pretty shaken up and it took me a little while to pull myself together and continue on with my day. Once again, I wasn't quite prepared for how intensely that experience would affect me.
Then, just yesterday (Friday) while Ava was napping, I decided to reorganize the desk in my room. I came across a few DVD's that weren't labeled, so wondering what they were I popped one into my computer. It turned out to be all the pictures from Hailey's funeral. Sean's cousin took a lot of pictures that day, which I am very grateful to have. She did such an amazing, dignified job. I glanced at a few and then quickly ejected it.
The next DVD happened to be the video of all the photos of Hailey's precious little life put to music that Sean's brother and his wife made for the funeral. After the first few seconds of music and a couple pictures, that DVD was quickly ejected as well. So why in the world I decided to put the third one in is beyond me, but I did anyways.
Next thing I know I'm watching the men on the stand at church rise to their feet as Hailey's tiny white casket, covered with flowers is pushed across the aisle. Behind her I see Sean and me walking, as I clutched her blanket and the outfit she had on the day she died. That was all it took for me to completely break down and lose it. I knew I wasn't prepared to watch her funeral, but it was like I was frozen in time and couldn't help but just stare at the screen. My heart raced. My stomach turned. My chest filled with sobs. The tears came pouring down my cheeks. With an unsteady, shaking hand, I was able to finally push the stop button and give myself some reprieve.
That was by far the worst moment of unpreparedness I think I've ever experienced. It took me quite a while to recover from that and regain some sense of composure. I was shocked at how much I'd "forgotten" about that day and the excruciating pain that went along with it...but it only took 2o seconds of watching to bring it all back to the surface again.
Three times in three days I was blindsided with vivid and/or unexpected events that shook me to my core. It was actually quite humbling to realize how truly weak I still am and how much pain I still feel at the loss of my little girl. But, as strange as it may sound, I found it all slightly comforting. As much as I want the pain and grief to go away, it reminds me that I still, and always will, love and miss my baby girl to my very core.
These emotional moments definitely get fewer and farther between. They begin to be replaced by good, happy memories of Hailey and even by new experiences with her. (Like the special dimes I find that I know are from her.) I will NEVER get over it or move on...but, I hope one day I'll have the strength to be able to sit down and watch the video of her funeral (or memorial, as I like to call it) with a feeling of peace and pride at the amount of love and compassion she brought into that one room, all in her honor.