Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My Goodbye to Kenley

For anyone who knows me, you know I have always written in order to sort through emotions.  For years, I kept journals.  My journals kept me sane.  They provided an outlet in which to pour my anger, confusion, joy, excitement, or anything in between.   When I first discovered I was pregnant, I immediately knew I was going to keep a journal.   I wanted a special journal just for this event, and I wanted to write specifically to my baby.  I had just the journal for the job, too.   My sister Allison had given me a tan leather bound journal from one of my favorite NYC stores, Kate's Paperie.  Its slick, smooth pages were edged in gold and a creamy ivory ribbon was sewn in the spine as a place holder.   It held the ink from my fountain pen perfectly, without bleeding or spotting.  At first, I wrote to my Bean Sprout because we didn't know gender just yet.  Then, to my baby girl.  Finally, the entries held her name.  Her wonderful, unique name.  Kenley.  I wrote about how I was feeling on some days.  (nauseous)  I wrote about things we were getting ready for her.   I wrote about feeling her move for the first time - and for all the times after that.   I told her all about what was happening in hopes that one day, she'd read through those pages and know just how much she was wanted and loved.  Then, the unthinkable happened, and I knew I'd never write in that journal again.   Except for one, last time.  
We had settled on a memorial service and I knew i wanted to speak.  I also knew I needed to say goodbye to my little one.  I wasn't sure what I wanted to say until I woke up at 3:30 in the morning a few days before the memorial. I crept to the dining room table, opened up my journal, and wrote these words to my baby girl:

It's the middle of the night my baby - and you're gone.   Your excitement to be born was so great, you somersaulted into a tangle of your cord.  So, now your father and I weep for you.  Our hearts are so heavy with sorrow, we can barely move.  I mourn the child I only knew from the inside.  My playful, beautiful ninja baby.  I loved you fiercely - more than I thought I could love anything in the universe.  I mourn the life you never got to live, so let me tell you about the life I imagine you would have had.
You would have been a cheerful baby.  Full of laughter and smiles.  When I'd change your diaper, you'd playfully grab your feet - and then you'd nonchalantly spit up.  Your sparkling eyes would melt the heart of anyone who saw them.  Of course, like your father, you'd have a pretty impressive set of pipes, and if you ever got upset, you'd certainly let us know.  Clearly and loudly.  You'd learn to sit up, stand up, crawl, and walk.  That awkward clumsiness you'd get from your mother might result in a few bruises and bumped heads, but nothing too serious.  Your first words wouldn't be mama or dada.  No, it would be something obscure - like hydrogen.  (The periodic table border in your room isn't just for decoration!)  You definitely would not be a picky eater!  Your love for food is genetic on both sides.  But you'd surely be a messy one.  
At preschool, you'd be quite the artist, bringing home a freshly painted masterpiece very day.  Our refrigerator doors would rival the Lourve.  You'd frustrate your teachers with your overuse of the word "why", but your thirst for knowledge would never be quenched.  The first day of kindergarten would be tougher on your mama than on you.  You'd hold your hand up in the air and proclaim, matter of factly, "I got this".  And you'd confidently walk into your classroom, your dark pigtails swinging slightly askew because your mama never was good with hair.
Throughout school, you'd do well.  Your smarts a trait from both sides.  You'd be a scholar and a problem solver.  You'd have the social skills of your father, so you'd be popular.  Not "cheerleader popular", but the kind of kid that can slide easily within social circles.  Your sense of humor would be playful and hilarious, with just a sprinkling of sarcasm.  "Oh, Kenley, you're such a hoot!" Your easy smile would melt the tension out of any situation.
With your mama's dark hair and curvy hips, and your daddy's blue eyes and long legs, you'd be a heartbreaker for sure!  Your mama would buy you a training bra.  Your daddy would buy a shot gun.  Your childhood and teen years would have been full of sleepovers and shopping trips.  Your daddy would have taken you camping.  Your mama would have let him.  You'd ride a bike and climb trees.  You'd wear your mama's shoes and paint your nails.  Once, you'd try to sneak in past curfew and your unfair parents would lay down the law.  But it would be for your own good - you'd see that later.
You'd be a hard worker and you'd choose a great college.   Good thing you have that scholarship!  You'd study all sorts of things.  You'd grow and mature, and your proud parents would wonder how time flew by so quickly.  You'd graduate with honors and get a job you loved.  You'd spend your twenties on a journey of self discovery and freedom.
One day, a handsome young man would timidly ask your father for your hand. And, after he finished polishing his shot gun, he'd say yes.  You'd be the world's most beautiful bride.  And when people would ask you how you "knew" your guy was the one, you'd say you learned how a man should treat his wife by watching how your father treated your mother.  
You'd have children of your own and you'd get to experience all the wonderful joys of being a mom.  Your life wouldn't be perfect - but who's is?  It would be yours!
All I wanted for you was happiness.  Wherever you are, I hope you have it.  You will always, always, always be in my heart.  You took a piece of me with you and left a piece of you behind.  I will forever treasure those moments we had together, my little ninja.  My baby.  My Kenley.
I love you more than there are stars in the universe.  May that love carry you home.  


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  2. If all of our 'thinkings of you' could carry your pain away or bring sweet Kenley back..I know we would all think so much harder. I imagine throngs of people surrounding you, holding hands, in a kumbaya, type of setting, only our eyes are all squeezed tight..thinking hard...just waiting for the veil of pain to be lifted. The fog of disbelief and shock clearing as Kenley is returned to your arms and the wonderful life you envisioned for her. It was exactly eight days ago that I was sitting at my computer much like I am right now beginning my work for the day when I learned something had happened. Every morning I wake up, knowing you are hurting – wishing it was a horrible dream. In reality, all I can do is tell you that I love you, am thinking of you, and do what little I can to ease other burdens. With all the love and ‘thinkings of you’ and support that we all give you, I know that you are hurting and it is going to take an army of support and maybe a long war between good and evil to help carry you through. There is no understanding, in my opinion, of why this has happened to such wonderful, prepared, conscientious parents who were packed and ready to go, or should happen to anyone for that matter. This could have happened to any one of us. I am so sorry that you are facing this, yet I know that my ‘sorries’ are drops of sunshine in your bucket of dark skies. My hope is that over time you receive so much sunshine that your dark skies may finally begin to part and your broken heart may begin to heal.

  3. Thank you for sharing your journey, Rebecca. My heart longs for the time when the pain is less and hope dawns anew for you and Mike.

  4. Parts of that made me smile through my damp eyes. Kenley was so lucky to be loved so much by both of you, I'm sure she knew it from the start. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  5. This is beautiful. I think it's all these future moments that we think about that can sometimes bring us down, but it's all the love that keeps us afloat - and this is so full of love.