Two months ago today she was born still. I was sitting at Bug's church choir program this evening and happened to look down at my watch...April 29th...the 29th...two months ago, February 29th was Solveig's birth day. It didn't cause me to burst into tears or anything like that, but just the recognition factor kicked in and I was reminded of her. I like being reminded of her. I like to think about her, because she is my daughter and she always will be. I've had several great days of living life quite fully and having joy again. This is a blessing. I'm hopeful there will be more of those before the next wave swells up to shore in my heart.
So, the story continues...part five...
I left off in the funeral home. We gave Solveig to our funeral director Dan, only about 32 hours after her birth. I believe with all my heart that Dan and the other funeral directors, Sharon and Richard, took great care of my baby girl's body. And I thank them for that. They showed the utmost respect to us and we are so appreciative. Thank you, funeral directors.
We walked out of that funeral home and I felt so strange, not having Solveig in my arms. It was odd to not carry her around with me anymore. There was something so "normal" about holding my baby in my arms, even if she was dead. It made me feel like a mama to her. But leaving her...that did NOT feel right. I just knew that I had to do it, and I did. Her weight was gone, which equals absence of an unwanted sort. Nobody wants to feel that type of absence, but God has allowed me and Erik to feel that. I can tell you one thing...I hold my other two children more tightly now. I watch them like a hawk. Yes, I feel a bit of "helicopter mom" coming on. And it's not because I want to be like that. I think it's just an instinctual thing that has happened. A fear I face now of not wanting anything to happen to my Bug and Buzz. I don't know what I'd do if something happened to them. And yet the utter reality I've been faced with is also that I am to continually present my children to the Lord. They belong to HIM, not me. They are just on loan to me for awhile on this earth. Kellie talked about this the other day and it really sank in with me. Sure I've thought about it before, but after releasing our daughter to the Lord I understood it fully for the first time...the need to surrender. We humans hate surrender. We want to keep a tight grip on that which we consider dear and sacred to us. But we are called to let go. Such a hard lesson, but so true.
I touched on this before, but after we left the funeral home we visited three different cemeteries and finally found our sweet country cemetery. I really like going there and I'm surprised I don't have the urge to go every day. But I don't. I love going there though and always treasure my moments near Solveig's grave. I'm looking forward to ordering her a headstone. Her grave will also be mine. That is kind of an odd thing - to already know where my body will be laid to rest. But for some reason, it truly gives me a peace knowing that my body will be laid with hers. We will be together again physically, but we will be together again spiritually even before that. When my spirit leaves my body and flies to Jesus, my baby will be there waiting for me. I can hardly wait. Okay...now the tears are coming. See, I knew they would come sometime soon. It's this writing business...it pulls out the good, the bad and the difficult...but I'm finding it so worth it all. Such healing is coming through it for me. So...back to the grave...one of the neatest things about the cemetery we chose is that it is SO small. It is run by volunteers from a church, as it is that church's cemetery. It is nice that we didn't have to be members of that church to use their cemetery. The sweet people who volunteer their time are such gems of humanity. I have met a few of them and have had the chance to thank them for what they do. One of them told me that he really enjoys being out there, and finds it so peaceful. Bless his heart. There is a sweet pond that was frozen when we were choosing the cemetery so we didn't get to see it then. Of course it has since thawed and it is adorable, and lots of birds gather round. I like to sit on the benches near the pond and walk around it and think.
After leaving the cemetery, we came home and crashed. Our parents were taking turns watching the kids, so we were able to relieve them and spend a little time with our kids and just rest in our own home again. Of course it was bizarre to come home without our baby. The law here in MN does say that parents are allowed to take their babies home from the hospital if they want to...but as I alluded to before, there are some challenges between the state law, hospital regulations and funeral home policies that didn't make it possible for us to bring Solveig home. But in all honesty, I don't think I would have wanted to do that. Some people really like to do that, and I think that's neat for them. Some people like that they can bring their baby home and spend time rocking the baby in his or her room, visit with family and friends in a less stressful atmosphere, etc. But for us it was okay that we didn't take that route. We felt right about leaving her with the funeral directors. And we knew we'd see her physical body again a few times before we buried her, so that helped a little bit.
Our kids were so glad to have us home again. They needed their mommy and daddy, and we needed them. I was so glad to be able to hold them in my arms again. We started to read some of the books we had been given for children going through the loss of a baby sibling. I'm so glad for those resources. One of my favorite books for them isn't really about grief, but it's just about Heaven. If you haven't yet read Heaven Is For Real, I highly encourage you to do so. We had read it a few months before Solveig's death and have found it incredibly helpful for understanding perhaps a bit more about what Heaven is like. There happens to be a kids version of the book which has GORGEOUS illustrations and has brought to life even more the reality of Heaven for us and for our kids.
The next day was Friday. We woke up knowing that we would have a LOT to do this day. The first thing we did was to go to my favorite store with the big red bullseye to obtain a replacement white blanket, identical to the one that we had purchased for Solveig to be wrapped in. We then went to the funeral home to see Solveig again and to choose a casket for her. We were able to spend a long time holding her again and looking at her tiny, beautiful features. She was cold because she had been in the refrigerator. I know, hard to hear, but real. But again, it really didn't matter to us. She still looked so pretty to us. She was still our sweet girl...the one who had had been warm and had come out only two days earlier. I wanted to cherish every moment that I could with her. After holding her for awhile, we switched out the blankets. I took the bloodied blanket that had held my daughter's body as I wanted to keep it with me forever, and we wrapped her instead in the identical blanket.
We were then presented with three options for a casket. There was a tiny white one which wasn't really long enough for Solveig's eighteen inch body. Then there was a white one that was a little bit bigger. And then there was a beautiful marbled light pink one. Erik and I were both immediately drawn to that pink one and we knew it was right for our girl. It was so pretty. I never knew I'd call a casket pretty, but this one sure was. Sharon, the funeral director we worked with that morning, said that the pink casket was brand new and she decided to bring it along for us to see. I'm so glad that she did. Casket shopping for our child was so strange and definitely brought out a whole new flood of tears. These are decisions that parents don't want to have to face.
After mustering up enough strength to yet again leave our daughter behind, we left the funeral home and went out shopping for more things. Next up, we had to go back to the cemetery to actually choose a plot. Sobering. But Jerry, the sweet man who volunteers and helped us out, was so tender with us. He had tears in his eyes and just a sweet, soft-spoken manner. I appreciate him greatly.
Erik got a new suit as he hadn't gotten one of those since his first job interview. :) Bless him. We found a really helpful guy at our local department store who heard our story and immediately went to work helping Erik. I thankfully have a closet full of black formals from singing, so there were a few options that would work with my swollen, just had a baby body. I settled on one black velvet dress that I wore in college and have used several times since! It has that timeless look, so I doubt anyone knew how old it was...but now you know! Bug would wear her beautiful white dress which we bought for the hospital pictures, and Buzz would wear his black suit and tie from Christmas.
We also had to tend to the final details of our funeral program which we had been planning since Sunday night when we found out that Solveig was gone. Thank you to sweet Lisa for working behind the scenes to make our program look AMAZING. It was so pretty and delicate, just like our little girl.
This picture was on the front of the program...
I love this one. It's so tender and soft and sweet. I think our Solving had a sweet spirit. I could sense that. I think that she was also feisty like our other two kids, as she was constantly busy inside of me. But sometimes I wonder if some of her busyness was related to her cord strictures...and that she might have been trying to move her way out of something that wasn't comfortable...we'll never know. I'm just so glad that I got to feel her in me at all. She was a miracle. I'll not forget that.
There is so much more to share, but this post is already super long...so I'll save more for another day...thanks for reading and thanks for your continued prayers for our family. We feel such a peace and strength. The kind of peace that is perfect from the Lord.
The following was my mom's life verse while she was going through her cancer, almost 12 years ago...
"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you."