Capture Your Grief Day 24: Siblings

Skye was my first baby. When I lost her, I did not have other children to hold and hug and cry with, at least not from my own womb.

I did, however, have five little girls I had all but birthed. My five younger sisters were my first “babies”, I had been as much a part of raising them as my mom and dad. I had seen their first moments of life outside the womb, I had helped with 4 of their 5 births. They will always be my babies more than my little sisters, there is a 10 year gap between me and the oldest, 18 years between the youngest and I.

It was hard on them, I believe, when I got married and moved out of the house. As my sister Grace said on my wedding day, tears rolling down her cheeks right before I headed up stairs to say my vows, (she was 5 at the time) “I’m losing my sister!” I always tried hard to keep that from being so, to reassure them that I would always be there for them, even if I didn’t live in the same house. I tried to include them in everything, do something special on their birthdays, include them in important life events.

We found out I was pregnant right before we moved to Colorado, and they were heartbroken. They used to talk about me having a baby and being aunts (my brother had 2 kids, but he had lived out-of-state for years) and being able to be hands on with their niece or nephew. As hard as it was for us to move home when our business failed, my sisters, in their innocent child minds, were thrilled that I would be home in time for their niece to be born and I would once again be in their lives on a daily basis, living in the same house for a little while. They were so excited when I went into labor and anticipated what the next few hours would bring as the baby would be born right there in the house. Nobody was as excited to hold Skye and love her as they were, each of them being tender little mommies and in love with babies in general.

Then it all went wrong. In the commotion of going to the hospital at the last-minute to deliver and the ensuing drama, nobody really thought about those poor little girls waiting at home for their niece to arrive into the world. Nobody had time to sit with them and ask them what they were feeling. As we all waited for Skye to get better and come home, each person was engrossed in “adult worries”, I don’t think any of us stopped to think about how they were coping. They could not visit the NICU while Skye was there, it was cold and flu season and school age children were not permitted, especially not five at a time. They had to settle for pictures and videos, and the hopeful promise that they would get to hold Skye when she was better.

She never got better. In the midst of my grief, in the very throes of my loss, during the private family visitation on October 14, 2008, my sisters got to meet Skye for the first time. She was in her little coffin. They would never get to hold her. Even Josh and I finally got to hold her at the very end as she passed, but these tender little girls would never have the bittersweet joy of holding her, only lightly touching her tiny fingers and kissing her lifeless features ever so gently. I have a picture that makes me cry every time I see it to this day. For the very first time I glimpsed the real, tangible pain they had been experiencing while all the adults had been busy with their own worries. I saw written on their faces the devastation of loss, and they were so young and so deeply affected by the tiny baby they had never met. They were 13, 12, 11, 7, and 5 years old. The picture speaks so painfully for itself.

Clockwise from left: Nevada 11, Noel 13, Naomi 12, Neryah Grace 7, Nalana 5.

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