Friday, May 11, 2007


Today is the anniversary of my Daughter's Death. The day the world changed. It was 38 days until her third birthday. That year it was also Mother's Day.

She wasn't in an accident, nor was violence beset upon her by another human, she simply came down sick and within 6 hours was dead. Despite vaccinations a tiny microbe, picked up from contact with another child, killed her.
Understanding-meningitis-basics. A doctor friend later told me that she didn't know why I thought to take my daughter to the hospital, she would have put the child to bed and awoke in the morning to find her dead. Grisly.

I still remember the rush to the hospital, the second the blood clot went through her brain stem and killed her, the ER working on her and the transfer to another hospital.
The sweet hospital chaplain whose wife came as well, the time in the freezing waiting room, and the inescapable words from the doctor. I remember being unable to find a quiet private place and finally just putting a blanket over my head and crying.

Eventually I went in to see her before they unplugged her. I was worried that she would be afraid, after all what is death to the young?

The NICU staff wouldn't let me leave, they didn't want me to be alone. All I wanted was to be alone. Finally, a friend showed up and followed me home. She had the sensitivity to leave quickly. Sinking to the kitchen floor I sobbed and wept and screamed. Eventually though, I thought "My daughter can see me, what kind of an example is this?" So I got up.

Anger struck next, after all the World had Just come to an END, and because all these other people were selfishly going on with their lives I had to also. If only they would stop and look around they would Know, and the world would stop spinning and it really would be over.

Because it was a "communicable" disease the media made a big deal of it. (Strengthening my life long loathing of them.) On the other hand, because of the news attention other children were brought in to ERs early and saved. Some will be two forever.

I went to her dayschool and told the loving woman in charge. I watched as she collapsed onto her knees and began to cry. People came rushing from all over and I couldn't speak, couldn't help her, because I had gone somewhere where I couldn't feel. It was weeks before I stopped automatically pulling into the school to pick her up.

A wise woman sent me to
TCF. It was both horrifying and healing. There is an old saying that if all the problems in the world were piled on a table, people would fight to get back their own. That's how TCF was. I would be sitting there, listening to people tell their story and thinking "Thank G-d that what happened to me happened, because I couldn't handle what happened to you." And, ironically, they were usually thinking the same thing.

I kept getting up. Every day, every morning, every hour. I would turn off the alarm and bargain "Just get up today. You don't have to get up tomorrow. Just today." People have since told me that I am a strong woman, that they couldn't have survived. I am a weak woman. The reality is, you don't a choice. The rest of the world doesn't care, because to them it never stopped. So you keep getting up.

One day when I was angrily listing all the things my daughter would never do, (Mothers know what I mean, from the moment you are pregnant you start thinking of "Firsts" First day of school, first crush, first date, first prom, first Presidency, first Nobel Prize, first Grandchild) I realised that I could do some of them for her. I finally got past bargaining for one day. The Future had returned.

Sometimes the Future was eclipsed briefly, but it was back. A previously lost child and health issues meant no more children unless adoption. So fine, what life had I envisioned for Her? I meant to live it.

Eventually, I stopped living "Her" life, and found that I was again Living my life. A life irrevocably changed, but a good life. A life that still has tears and that pain in your throat when crying stops breathing. But a good life.

The Adored One touches a very battered heart in tender and healing ways. And he brings in plenty of laughter. I have challenging and interesting work with a variety of people. I have few friends but they are True Friends.

Today, I realise, is a Life I would be Proud for my Daughter to have. I know that She can see it and is happy.


miss ewe said...

Thanks for sharing this with us. I don't have any words of wisdom, but I wanted to comment, to share community. I'm thinking of you.

Jenny said...

I could'nt possibly know how you feel, but I'm sad that you had to go through that. I'm glad you found some strength in your support group. Don't sell yourself short; the fact that you DO get up everyday after that alarm goes off means you ARE strong.

Stasia said...


Jennifer said...

I'm so sorry and even though I don't even know where to begin with my condolence, I just wanted to comment to let you know I'm out here and feeling for you. Sending hugs your way and thinking of you on this mother's day weekend.

Shelly said...

You are one of the strongest women I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. You have so profoundly affected so many people's lives and I am proud to say that I am one of the fortune ones to have shared a small part of your life. You are wise and wonderful far beyond your years. Because of you I will hug my children a little longer and tell them I love them a few more times everyday. Bless you. This had to be difficult for you since you are quite a private person. x's and o's

Gothknits said...

*hug* and a total loss for words

Debbie said...

Oh my. Only a mother can understand such pain. I hope sharing it has helped you in some small way.

Jennifer said...

My heart hurts reading your story, and I have no words. You are in my thoughts.

ChelleC said...

Your writing of your loss stirred me deep inside. I am so touched and moved by your words of love for your lost daughter. Gosh. You are amazing.

I wish I could meet you in person. You are dear.

Karen said...

I am so sorry. I cannot imagine what it is like to lose a child. This must have been very hard for you to write about. Hugs to you Elysbeth.

Jenger said...

Thank you so much for saring that story. I was in Turkey in 2001 when I was rushed to the ER cause of throbbing pain in my head and passing out. The docs thought I had meningitus (totally spelled wrong) or a stroke. After 10 hours of tests, spinals, and heavy medication, I found out that I have a severe sinus infection in my brain that was causing it to swell. While I was heavily medicated, all I could think of was that I would be stuck in this country far far away from my children and they would not know how much their mommy loved them.