I don't have any pictures of myself holding Kenley. I didn't get to change her clothes or give her a bath. I wish I had known that I could have done that. And now it is too late. I will never hold her again. I will never touch her soft skin. I will never feel her tiny fingers wrap around my hand. All I have is the memory of holding her. I remember how she felt in my arms, nestled into the crook of my elbow. I remember how soft and smooth her cheeks were. When they handed her to me, she was wrapped up in a blanket. Her left arm peeked out of the folds and I slid my index finger underneath her palm. I didn't know I could unwrap her from her blanket. I remember worrying about what would happen if her blanket came undone and she spilled out. I worried the hospital staff would be mad at me. So, I held her as she was given - a little, still bundle. I peeked in a little, pulling the blanket away from her neck. I touched her chest. But, I never touched her feet. Or her legs. Or her belly. Or even her other hand. I never even saw the color of her eyes. I brushed my fingers over her forehead and touched her hair that fell below the knitted cap on her head. I pulled the hat up just a tad so I could be sure she had the full head of hair my heartburn had promised me, but I didn't cup her head in my hand like I wish I had. I didn't trace the outside of her ears. I didn't kiss the nape of her neck. I wish I had pulled all of the coverings away from my little girl and examined every inch of her so I could have committed it to memory. I wish I had touched and kissed her all over. I wish I had taken hours and hours with her. Instead, I was weighed down in shock and sadness and I didn't know that even though death had claimed her, she still ultimately belonged to me.
Nothing makes me cry more than thinking of this. Nothing. I can't go back and have more time. I can't hold her again - and so all of those things I don't know will forever be a mystery to me. How her knees bent. If she had any freckles or birthmarks. What her toes felt like. When I think of this, my breath catches in my chest, sharp and hot. My ears burn and my eyes swell with tears. I feel a sadness beyond measure. I have tried to write this post several times and usually only get about three or four sentences down before I have to take some deep breaths and wipe the tears from my eyes. Remembering what she felt like in my arms only makes me ache to hold her again. Remembering how soft her skin was only makes me want to touch her one more time. But I can't. Never again.
I would give anything to have her back with me, but that is a bargain that has yet to be offered. So instead, I am here without her, fighting the darkness she left behind. Trying to hold it together as best as I can. I miss her so much, I often have to completely stop what I am doing to mentally push through that moment. She is gone, and I don't get to hold her. I don't get to touch her or sing to her. I don't get to hear her laugh or see her smile. I just get to remember those brief moments in the hospital when I was too shaken to really soak her in. And that is not enough. Not by a long shot.