I am not afraid of my house burning down or being kidnapped in a bad neighborhood. I'm not scared of being involved in a mall shooting, or my class failing their standardized tests, or slicing my fingers while chopping vegetables. What terrifies me is that purple leaf. The small, laminated picture fastened to the outside of a hospital room door. The soft, olive green background framing a slightly wilting purple maple leaf. The silent signal that this is a room of sorrow, of loss, of pain. It seems so harmless - a small plastic square slid onto the side of the door frame, just above the room number.
It's just a picture of a leaf. But it's not. It is the ending of dreams. It is the breaking of hearts. It is the screams of pain and agony that stir from a deep, dark core you had no idea even existed inside you. It is the isolation from the world you should have been a part of, but are not. That purple leaf - telling everyone that joy has passed this room by, that death and stillness lurk inside.
That purple leaf meant that nurses walked into my room with a warm whisper and shimmering eyes. It meant comforting hands on my arm that held no child. It meant filling out a death certificate instead of social security information. It meant a complete and total change of protocol that nobody can imagine having to make.
I hated that purple leaf. When I had to walk the empty hallway to begin healing from my surgery, I would notice it stuck to my door - a room on the opposite side of labor and delivery - reminding me, and everyone else, what had transpired within me. There is no baby. There is no joy. There is only an aching silence and a shattered soul.
As I get closer and closer to Bean's arrival, I can't stop myself from thinking about that leaf. Will it be on my door again? Will I get so close only to fall so far? The thought of the purple leaf sends chills of terror down my spine. Sitting in the hospital, holding Bean cold and still like her sister, is more than I can bear.
There is no remedy for this fear other than experiencing a delivery without the leaf. No amount of other people's comforting words or stories will take it away. I will be afraid of the leaf until the minute Bean is in my arms, red-faced and crying.
Right now, Bean is poking around in my belly. Squirming and wiggling, growing and thriving. Right now, I am doing the very best I can to keep my thoughts focused and positive. There is no valid reason for Bean to repeat her sister's fate, but then fear has never been valid. Fear is slippery, slimy, and sinister. Fear whispers in your ear with a hiss, sliding into your heart and soul in a winding river of blackness. Sometimes, you can build a dam strong enough to keep it at bay, but that only lasts for a while, and then it all comes crashing down.
My beautiful Kenley came into this world with a purple leaf. I can't change that. I can't get her back and I can't even guarantee her sister's safety. All I can do is wake up each morning and love my girls with all of my heart as I take one more step closer to that hospital door. So, that's what I do. I love. Hard and fierce. And I hope it's enough to keep that leaf away.