I carried her in my swollen belly for only eight months when my water broke—not enough time for a healthy baby to thrive outside my womb. She spent days under the oxygen hood, her chest pulling as she tried to get breaths in and back out. We cheered when she came out from under the large circle of plastic and was able to nurse at my swollen breasts…I could only hold her for a few short minutes after nursing before they rushed her back to the isolette to lie under the bili-lights like some debutante in the tanning booth. Eyes covered by protective baby sunglasses—trying to break up the toxins in her body. It was not enough time.
I wanted to nuzzle her fuzzy bald head that looked so much like Cameron’s had at birth and take in the smell of her—fresh and untainted by the world. I knew that smell would fade with time, and I was losing precious moments to inhale her scent. Not enough time….
The day of her funeral was unseasonably warm enough for taking babies to the park—for a stroll on the greenway or a walk in the crunchy leaves, but there was not enough time. We had to rush to the church to greet the mourning line that snaked around the church fellowship hall. The line was so long that not everyone saw us—simply not enough time.
Our life over the next few months took on a harried, frenzied feel…We moved quickly between work and volunteer hours and school and life…Not remembering much of what we were doing and running out of time. Not enough time to get down to the real business of grieving. We did not look at each other for months, each not wanting to blame the other for letting her die. We knew that it was beyond our control but there was not enough time to process that thought through our minds. All we knew was that we did not have enough time to save her…Not enough time.
Our grief ebbs and flows through the years. I always think that I am stronger, bigger, better with each passing year…then October rolls around. My tears still flow freely, my shoulders tighten and I gasp at the sound of her name. I will dream about our first daughter for weeks as though she has been with us all along taking her place at the dinner table. I miss her so much the ache takes hold of my stomach and my head and shakes until I am almost numb with pain. I wake up each birthday morning on October 23 and step down onto the searing coals of the day. I can and will survive—I will walk across the hot coals with the calloused feet of twelve years of indescribable sorrow that lies under the surface of our family. But I will make it to the other side of the day knowing that with Sweet Abigail Faith—we did not have enough time…It will never be enough time.