We walked for you.
This past weekend was the SHARE walk for remembrance and hope.
Over three thousand families and friends were in attendance. Three thousand weighted hearts, six thousand empty arms. It was almost too much to comprehend, reading the names on the t shirts, all the babies who never got to walk. Never got to share.
Team Josie was incredible. I cannot remember a time in my life where I have felt so loved. My entire family, my closest friends, co-workers, people I haven't spoken to or seen in months. Near strangers.
We walked. We walked for you and for all the babies who never will. We walked for the mothers whose lives stopped, for the doctors and nurses who cried when they arrived home, tucking their children into bed.
We walked for boys who will never run, for girls who'll never steal their sisters' sweaters. Babies who will never gaze at flames burning brightly on marble counter tops. For children who won't laugh or lie or feel. We walked for the mother you'll never be, for the one I am no longer.
I remember when I received the call. It was three days after you died. At the time, I could barely be declared conscious, dragging my feet from bed to couch for days. I'd stare out windows in a disillusioned haze, willing myself to be pregnant again, aching to feel you inside me. There were no words, no respite. There was no way out. There was no hope. There was only a gaping, bleeding wound. There was only a darkness.
My phone rang that afternoon and I hit decline. Actually, I was rejecting most every call those days. The voicemail notification came a minute later.
I'll never forget the woman's voice, so soft and careful with her words. She explained that she was from the SHARE organization, locally based here in St. Charles. An organization for women and families who have suffered the loss of a baby. I listened, staring ahead in my zombie, post-Josie trance as she apologized like all the others had, for the loss of my child. For the death of my daughter. For the loss of my life.
She said something different then. "I know you don't feel like talking yet, but we are here when you do. Call anytime."
And there was something about it. I listened three times to be sure.
Indeed, she had not said "If," but "When."
There was no "Never" or "At Least" or "I Can't Imagine." Just a chair and a phone with a woman waiting there. A woman who was confident I'd call.
I didn't fully believe her then, but I felt a jolt. Run down my leg and through my arms, felt my eyes widen a tad. It was as real as it was involuntary, this peripheral twinge. It was surprising and welcomed and unfamiliar.
It was hope.