Love Song for the Grim Reaper #2

I didn’t sleep the night before we went to the hospital when Terra was to deliver our Roxy. I switched back and forth from the couch to the bed. I twitched and breathed. I changed channels. I smoked (I was a born again smoker that day/night). I put my hand on Terra’s shoulder. We didn’t speak. It was such an incredibly terrifying and endless night, that just imagining it now has me shaking in fear that I could be transported back there.

Terror, like I’d never known or ever come close to knowing, at the imagining of what we were getting ready to do: meet our dead child. We were going to see the face of our dead daughter. From the moment on the day before, when we received the news the news (“I’m sorry hon, there’s no heartbeat,” said the ultrasound tech), every panicked darting thought landed on this simple, impossible fact: we were still going to see her, and she would be dead. Having a baby, generally, is kind of scary business. Having a dead baby, however, is like being reborn inside of fear. Your blood is fear. Your teeth are fear. Your thoughts are fear. Your eyes are fear. All sounds are fear. I can still feel it pumping through me almost 6 years later.

There was one, amazing thing though, that this terror did not prepare me for… how amazing it would feel to hold my dead child. How perfect she still felt, in my arms, even as she was gone. It was so calming, just looking at her. Even in death, she brought me some peace that day. She was so familiar to me then, and she still is. Something about her was alive- something that is still inside me. I understood immediately why chimps would carry around their deceased children for days. It really makes no sense to let them go. I guess we never do.

This song is about meeting and holding Roxy, and how the feeling tied in to my first memory of death as a child, when a neighbor somberly walked into our yard with a dying animal in her arms (it actually was a rabbit, not a cat, but well, artistic license and such). All my life, there was something too familiar about death when it showed its face in my life. It sometimes felt and feels like I was being programmed, engineered and prepared for losing Roxy from early childhood. It sounds crazy, I’m sure, but when fate disintegrates your confidence in statistics, I suppose reason goes with it.

The first time I saw you
You walked up from the neighbors
Holding your tabby cat like a
Like a newborn baby
My daddy rolled his eyeballs
Thinking you were crazy
But I had to admit myself, well I
I knew your face right away
I knew your face right away
You were never a stranger
And it felt alright
I carve your name across my wrist
And every day it looks new
I drag my hand along the fence
The way I pictured you might do
And there’s a cat watching
From the other side
Yeah it’s a song I’ve heard
One too many times
I knew your face right away
I knew your face right away
You were never a stranger
And it felt alright

How did you survive your child's delivery? Do you feel you suffer from PTSD as a result of that day (as I most certainly do)? If you chose/were able to see your child, do you feel it brought you any peace?