On August 15, 1997 our daughter Jennifer gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Faith Elizabeth was born at 34 and 1/2 weeks gestation by an emergency C-section with complex congenital heart defects, weighing 3#, 12 oz., and 17 1/2 in. long. She was born alive and crying. We knew she had heart problems, but never doubted for a moment that she would live. She was immediately put on an external pace maker. She had people all over the world praying for her. After 3 days, we were told that there was nothing more they could do for her. When she was 5 days old, she was removed from life support. She spent the last hour and a half with her parents, both sets of grandparents, and the family priest.
We were taken to a private room, and a nurse wanted to know if we had a special outfit we wanted her to wear. Our daughter had picked out her "coming home outfit", a peach dress trimmed in white lace, white tights, & white lacy shoes. Jennifer asked me if I would dress her, as she didn't want the nurse to do it, and she herself couldn't do it. I said I would, although I was asking myself how I could. I had to do it, as this was the only thing she asked me to do for her. It was both sad and special. It would be the first and last time I would ever dress her. Special, because it was my time alone with her. I talked to her the whole time, telling her how much I loved her and would miss her terribly, but she would soon be in Jesus' arms free from pain. The little white shoes were so big on her tiny little feet. Knowing she would be gone from us in such a short time, my heart was so full of pain, I thought it would burst. How must her mother and father be feeling.
Friends and relatives were very supportive for a while, but then you could tell they were tired of hearing about it. I still needed to talk about my grandbaby Faith. I found myself talking to people in the stores. Anybody who would listen. If I was feeling this way, I could only imagine how my daughter felt. I had washed and ironed fancy little dresses for her, bought ruffle tights, and lacy shoes in happy preparation for her birth. The happy times we would have as she grew. Rocking her to sleep, baking cookies, tea parties, shopping. Faith's "auntie" bought her christening gown, now she would be buried in it. Imagine how my daughter felt. Carrying her for 34 1/2 weeks, nourishing her, then going home with empty arms. All the things she bought for her arrival - crib, swing, bassinet, sleepers, dresses, etc., and my son-in-law Brian, all the plans they made, and the dreams - no "daddy's little girl" to bring home. Now they had to plan a funeral. I felt so helpless. What could I do? Just hold them, cry with them, and be there for them. I couldn't fix what was wrong.
The Best Comforters: My Mother and My Cat
by Jennifer Moore
In my journey through grief, there have been so many people who have helped me in so many different ways that it would be nearly impossible to single out just one. I have a network of people supporting me: family, friends, doctors and priests. I'd even go so far as to say that my cat has helped me! He's a warm, fuzzy, big old tom cat who is perfect for snuggling with on sleepless nights. However, if I had to single out one person, it would have to be my mother.
On August 20, 1997 we had to remove my five day old daughter's life support because her heart was damaged beyond repair. We were able to hold her for an hour and a half before she died. We made some bittersweet memories that day. Before they removed the ventilator, a nurse asked us if we had a special outfit we'd like Faith to wear during her final moments. We had brought a lovely peach and lace dress, white tights and little white lacy shoes with us for her to wear. My mother was the one who dressed baby Faith that day. I didn't want a nurse to do it and I simply didn't have the strength--but mom did.
At the funeral home when it was time to pick out a casket, my husband asked me for my opinion on which one we should select. I was too hysterical from the sight of the ridiculously small coffins to make any kind of decision. While my husband and my father chose the casket, my mother took me aside and cried with me. At the funeral, it was her shoulder I leaned on.
In the days following my daughter's death my mother was there every second--or so it seemed. t was as if I had regressed into an infant and I needed her to be there and hold me. While my husband, my father, my sister and my son did their best to comfort me, I just needed my mother. The only peace I could find was in her arms. I remember telling her that I just wanted to crawl back inside her and never come out again. She tearfully said, "I know. I wish you could, too". During those darkest days, whenever I asked (and even when I didn't) she would stop whatever it was she was doing and just hold me. The light of her love helped me survive.
As the days turned into weeks, and the weeks into months following Faith's death, my mother continues to be a ministering spirit to me. If I'm having a bad day I can call her and we'll cry together. If I need time alone she'll take my son overnight. If I want to take a shopping trip she's always willing to come along. I cannot explain nor understand how my mother is able to be so self-less. She has always sacrificed for her children, but in helping me with my grief she has gone above and beyond the call of duty. Besides suffering the loss of her beautiful granddaughter and feeling helpless to help me, my mother is also an insulin dependent diabetic and has arthritis in her back. She's just an amazing woman.
So, mom, I want to thank you for all the love,patience and tenderness you have shown me all my life, but especially since Faith's death. Your ability to listen without judging, to just hold me when I need it and to share my tears is a beautiful example for others to follow.
Finally, to my cat, Valentino, thank you for your purrs and for allowing me to hold you in the wee hours of night--but you can't hold a candle to my mom!
WALKING WITH GRANDMA
I like to walk with Grandma,
her steps are short like mine.
She doesn't say "Now hurry up,"
She always takes her time.
I like to walk with Grandma,
her eyes see things like mine do
Wee pebbles bright, a funny cloud,
half hidden drops of dew.
Most people have to hurry,
they do not stop and see....
I'm glad that God made Grandma
unrushed and young like me!!