The Cards I am Holding

What happened to us, the way Scarlett died, and the events that led up to our decision to take her off of her failing life support has left us with residual emotional trauma. I had to accept the truth of this and I have to prepare myself for the residual trauma to affect how I will parent my new little babe. As of right now I cannot look at Helen Devos Children’s Hospital without crying, (I can see the hospital from the floor I work on at MFB). Just the look of the building takes me back to being in her first room there, the weird triangular shape of it, how cold it was, the smell. I see in an instant, what happened, her going downhill and the day and a half we spent in the PICU with her. I can feel the weight of holding her dead body in my arms, cold and heavy. All of this hits me in the span of seconds and I am not strong enough to withhold the blow, so I crumble. I crumble at work, I crumble on the way to Gilda’s Club. I crumble. It’s not just the children’s hospital, but the original ER we took her too, that is directly connected to my work. The big red emergency sign burns my eyes as I drive by it every day I go to work. Even the sight of a little girl her age brings me crashing down.

I ask myself almost every day how will I be able to parent my little boy without succumbing to the overwhelming anxiety? What will I do when he gets his first cold? I can’t even bear the thought of it right now.  I hope my pediatrician is ready for the constant phone calls and visits. Scarlett died from a cold. This poor kid will grow up with parents weighed down by the trauma of their first child dying. Guys, I am terrified. I’m terrified of what all of that means. I’m terrified of this child dying as well.

I want to be strong enough to not crumble anytime something reminds me of Scarlett. I want to be strong enough to raise my son without my trauma affecting him. There is a quote by Cheryl Strayed in her book Tiny Beautiful Things that I have been thinking about lately.

“ You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you’re holding”

This quote doesn't cure trauma or ease anxiety, but it does make me think that all of this is survivable. Complaining about it will feel cathartic for a time and may be necessary to start healing. Always have grace for yourself for where you are at in your grief journey. For me, these are my cards, My daughter died, I have residual trauma from her death, I am pregnant with my second child, which comes with boat loads of anxiety. My only option is to play the hell out of these cards. I have to let my stronger emotions take over, my love and gratitude for being Scarlett’s Momma. My trust in my own motherly intuition. My trust that love will heal. It is so easy to drown in these negative feelings and the very real trauma we sustained. It is hard to try to work though that, and sometimes the hard thing to do is the right thing to do.  The hard thing to do is to endure, that is what I plan to do.