166 days

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When I was a kid my family visited the Grand Canyon Caverns in Arizona. The caverns are some of the largest dry caverns in the United States and sit over 200 ft below the surface. At one point in the tour the guide explains that, since the caverns are so far underground, no natural light can penetrate into the cavern’s rooms, without the artificial light you would become disoriented due to the lack of visual ques. Then they turn out the lights. The darkness is impressive, you really cannot see your hand in front of your face. Your brain starts to question which way is up, down, left and right. You reach out and find the first thing you can touch, your friend or family, the rail in front of you or the strangers standing in the darkness with you. Just when you think you’ll never see anything again, the guide turns on a lantern and tells a story about how the first explorers traveled to caverns with only these gas lanterns. The small flame lights about 6 feet of the darkness, just enough to see your next step.

Losing your child feels a lot like this. At first you can’t see, you can’t function, you don’t know which way is up or how to get out of this darkness. You cling to anyone who offers support. Your friends and family hold you up, the strangers you meet who have traveled this journey try to guide you. Sometimes you just need to lean on a wall or lay on the ground to remember or feel something solid. Then you see a little light, you start to see next step. Your friends and family add a more lights and you can see a little farther. You just see a few extra steps ahead, someday hopefully you’ll see the whole path. But right now, I’m just happy when I can see the next step.

Some days are easy. I can see the light, I can feel hope and peace. Some days, it takes every ounce of strength I have to get out of bed and get dressed. This is a bad day, today the light feels a little dim.

We got 166 days with our angel, today she has been gone for 166 days. As of today, she has been gone longer than she was here. I thank God for every single one of those 166 days. For every night when I woke up at 2 am to nurse, every day at work when I sat in the coldest room in the building to pump her milk, every evening bath and book. Every moment. I thank God for the blessing that was our beautiful baby girl.

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Today, Corey and I went back to the hospital and sat in the garden where we let go of our little girl. We took the bear I made for her, her photo and lit a candle. We cried and blew bubbles for her and just talked to her. As I sat and watched the bubble drift up into a beautiful blue sky and couldn’t help but think of how much she would have enjoyed this day.

Today was a bad day. Today was a dark day. But the good news is that I can still see some light. Even on my darkest day, my God is always giving me a light. It may only be a small little flame, but it gives me direction. Today I will fix my eyes on that light and keep moving forward. I will find the joy and the hope.

God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. -Matthew 5:4