I joined a Mommy Follow Loop on Instagram a few days ago. You may be familiar with them. I wasn't. It was my first time participating in one. It seemed like an a great way to help grow a new page and make some connections, with other moms, and mommy bloggers. A few hours after the loop started, I began to get the customary DM introductions. "Hi. I'm _____. I'm a mom of 2, with a dog, a cat, and a bird. I live in ______, with my husband of ______yrs." "Hi, I'm _______. I'm a fitness enthusiast. I have a set of twin boys, a 5 year old, and a golden retriever, named______." And on, and on, they went. There were so many interesting, creative, and smart moms. The only issue was (and it was so unexpected and unforeseen) was when I would start to reply back to each one.
As I began to reply back to each, I found myself typing and deleting, over and over again. "Hi. I'm Meryl. I'm a mom of 5, one decea..." Delete.
"Hi. I'm Meryl. Mom of 4, and one daughter who is no longer with u..." Delete.
"Hey there! Nice to make your acquaintance to make this Insta-connection. I'm a wife of 28 years and a mom of 4..."
Along with a few other things about my interests and what I do.
The loop lasted for 48 hours, and for both days, I begin to deal with grief, pain, and loss, that was long overdue.
Why did I type and delete? The answer is simple. No one wants to lead with that. At least I don't. Sometimes, it's difficult for others to know, how to respond, to it.
The common response, is, "I'm sorry for your loss." Sympathy.
That's not what I was seeking. I simply wanted to acknowledge, that I'm Kennedy's mom, too, and that I have not forgotten about her. She is still a part of our family.
"The Lord, God giveth and He taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord." Those were the words, I said, when the doctors handed her warm, but lifeless, body to me, in the delivery room. I did not have a miscarriage, she was full term, delivered 2 days before her due date.
I went into labor at church. My husband was behind the pulpit preaching a sermon entitled "Train Up A Child." The irony, huh? I felt extremely tired and uncomfortable, that morning, as we were getting ready for service. And, as the day went on, I began to feel more and more pressure. It became obvious they were contractions. About 10 minutes before he concluded his message, they were 3 minutes apart. Another pastor's wife noticed my discomfort and asked, if I needed her to get my husband's attention. I said "No, he's wrapping it up now. I can wait." As soon as he finished, they grabbed him, and let him know, I was in labor. They offered to take our other 4 children to my mother's house. At the time, they were 2, 8, 12, and 14 yrs old.
When we reached the hospital, almost immediately, it was clear that something was wrong. The doctors could not detect a heartbeat. I told my husband to pray.
They looked worried. The week before I had been worried as well. Her movement had declined significantly. She was barely kicking and usually we would sit around and watch my belly move. It was amazing for her siblings to witness. They would snuggle with me in my bed and just rest their hands on my tummy and giggle in amazement.
I decided to go discuss it with my OB/GYN, on my lunch break, after the second day of noticing it. He didn't take it very seriously. He said "All expectant moms worry. Everything is fine. You're near the end of your pregnancy, so she doesn't have as much room to move around, anymore." But, at my insistence (since this wasn't my first rodeo) they hooked me up to a machine that measured movement, and registered it, on a chromatogram. There were hardly any peaks that indicated movement. I asked to see it for myself, because I read and analyzed mass spectrums and chromatograms, as part of my profession, in the biotech industry.
He suggested, that since I hadn't eaten lunch yet, that maybe, that was the reason. He suggested I go eat, and grab a sugary drink, to wake her up, and come back. I did. The chromatograph looked the same the second time around. He again, dismissed it. Once again, suggesting, she was out of room, in my belly, to move around, as she had been doing, prior. He said "Go home. Rest. Take it easy, and by this time, next week, you're going to be holding, a beautiful baby girl, in your arms."
I was. But, she had been gone almost 3 days.
The doctors had to break my water. My OB was not there. They called him, but he didn't make it to the hospital until later that night. With my other pregnancies, my water broke on its own. I know every pregnancy is different. But, it was this part, that shed light on the situation. The amniotic fluid, was brown. It was old blood, she had begun to decompose in my body. Her umbilical cord had wound around itself, at the naval, so many times, that at the base of it, it looked like, thin, braided rope. This was the reason she had not been moving. She was slowly being starved of oxygen and nutrients.
From the moment we realized, there was no heartbeat, I told my husband to pray. The Spirit of the Lord, was allowing him, to see and hear, 3 or 4 seconds ahead, of what was being said, and happening. So he knew before we did, what the outcome would be.
As I lay there holding her, the doctors all extended their condolences. They asked us if we'd like to have an autopsy performed. We declined. We didn't want her body to be cut on in that way. It was obvious what had happened. They, then told us, we would need to arrange for an undertaker to pick her up, and left. However, a couple of hours later, one of them came back to ask us a question. She said, "I saw how you and your husband handled this situation. You prayed and thanked God before and after. You even said blessed be the name of the Lord! How were you able to do that?"
I told her in the moment, God engulfed me with His peace. I didn't even have the presence of mind to ask for it, in the moment. He just showered me in it. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and He gives peace that surpasses all human understanding. I told her God is the giver, the sustainer, and the taker of life, and that everything has purpose. If it was His will, that she live, she would've lived. He knows the beginning, middle, and end of every matter. There are many things we may not understand in the moment, but we come to understand them, better, by and by. The Bible says that we should mourn when children comes into this cruel, wicked, world, and rejoice, when we go home, to be with our Father. I told her, that I trust God, and His plan--however difficult, it may be, sometimes. I have come to understand it, in ways, too numerous, to recant here. I, explained to her, that death is not the end. It is really the beginning, and that I knew, she was present with the Lord, and I would see her again.
When I was finished talking to her, she said, "I want what you have. I want faith and peace. I want to know God in the way that you do." We told her that salvation was a free gift to all who would believe in Him, and His redemptive power. We led her into prayer and she confessed and accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior. Kennedy's life and death was the catalyst, for it. That was just one of the purposes her death had. It enabled, someone else, to become a part of the Kingdom.
After she left, my husband called the funeral home. He didn't get an answer, as it was after hours, so he left a message. (This always makes the hair on the back of my head stand up.) He explained our situation, left his number, and asked them to return his call. An hour or so went by, and the phone rang. The lady on the other end, asked what was wrong, which was odd, because my husband had explained it, in his message. If someone calls a funeral parlor, the reason for the call, is very limited. But, he explained it again, and at that point, he realized this was not a funeral director. So, he says "I'm sorry. I must have dialed the wrong number." And she says, "I'm not an undertaker, but you didn't dial the wrong number." She begins to tell him, that, at that same hospital, 7 years earlier, she and her husband, lost a child as well. She said, she understood what we were going through, and how we must be feeling. She then asked if she could speak with me. My husband gave me the phone, and she began to comfort me with such words of encouragement. She then prayed with me and him. We were in tears. She was someone God had put in place for us, at just the moment, we needed her. That was no mis-dialed number! And, we know, because, as soon as we got off the phone with her, the funeral parlor called. The first thing, they said was, "Mr. Grimes, we got your message. We can send someone for your daughter's remains, in a couple of hours."
It was hard to go home without her. It was difficult explaining it to her siblings. It was difficult to sleep. I didn't turn off my bedside lamp for 13 months. I didn't sleep at all the first 3 nights. I've been a chronic insomniac ever since.
It was difficult to leave her at the graveyard. It has been difficult for me to go back to visit her for 13 years. I've seen many others, laid to rest, at that same graveyard. My husband and I have officiated many of the services.
I don't like to read her name on the gravestone. I don't like anything about it. I know she is not there.
She is where there is no sickness, sadness, tears, death, or dying. She is here, with me.
I carry her in my heart. I think of her at some point everyday. I think of her when I say, "Hi. I'm Meryl, a mom of 5. 4 living... one decea..."
Anyone who has lost a child, knows that wading through the grief process, is tough. The road to healing is often a long and difficult one. The gamut of emotions you run, are mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically draining.
I can tell you, that I never experienced anger, though. I'm not sure why, but, I was never once angry. Maybe, it was, because, I was able to help and comfort, so many other parents, as a result of my own experience. After losing Kennedy, I began to meet so many people, who'd recently lost a child, and many of them were very angry. I was able to encourage them, in the same way, that mysterious lady, on the phone, had encouraged us. I am stronger for having gone through this journey. My faith has increased as a result of it. The Bible says we go from faith-to-faith. God, began to orchestrate, chance encounters, with other little girls named Kennedy.
One was a little girl, in a local bible book store. She was 3 years old. And on this particular day, she was was throwing a tantrum, at the counter. She was screaming and crying, and repeatedly calling out to her mom. Her mom was trying to comfort her, but to no avail. At some point, I made eye contact, and she smiled at me, through her tears. I walked over to her and asked what was wrong? She did not respond verbally, but wrapped her arms around my legs, and squeezed me hard. I asked her mom if it was okay for me to pick her up. She said, "absolutely because I need all the help I can get!" LOL. I asked her name and she replied in the sweetest, purest voice, "My named is Kennedy."
"What a beautiful name for such a beautiful girl," I replied.
Her mom finished making her purchase and thanked me for my assistance. She reached to grab Kennedy, so they could go. Kennedy kissed me on the cheek and said, "I'll see you later." I cried tears of joy in the car for 20 minutes straight. I knew, it was God's way of letting me know, He hasn't forgotten about me and that my faith and hope are not misplaced.
We moved to a new house about 4 years after Kennedy's passing. One of our neighbors had a daughter named, you guessed it, Kennedy. She was my youngest daughter's age, who was 7, at the time. The really uncanny part, was that they looked almost identical. They looked like they could be actually be sisters! They became friends, instantly, and for many years, until they moved, Kennedy was at our house, after school, every single day. She became a part of our family. She would even call me, "mom." She and our daughter are still very close friends til this day.
Later, my son, became a dad, to a beautiful baby girl. When I went to visit her in the hospital, I asked what name they'd decided on. He told me they hadn't chosen a name yet. I would ask for a few days after that and get the same response. Finally, he called me on the 4th night following her birth, and said "Mom, we named her Kennedy. She already had a name when you came to visit. I just wasn't sure how'd you respond. But I wanted her to have my sister's name. I should've asked you first. I'm sorry."
I cried. Because, if you haven't figured it out by now, I'm a crybaby. My kids call me a "cry-girl." I told him I thought it was a beautiful, and fitting name, for my beautiful granddaughter. And it is!
I have been incredibly blessed to know and love all of these Kennedys, and until I can see my own Kennedy, they have been a source of comfort and joy for me. Someone once said, "Faith is a mystery, it is a journey without a map. It unfolds like a rose, sometimes tightly budded, sometimes in full bloom. When you think it has withered, it sprouts somewhere else."
I encourage you today--not to lose heart, not to lose hope, and not to lose faith!
Hi! Meryl, here. Glad you stopped by. I'm just living my little-lah-ti-dah-life,here in the great state of Texas. I'm a mom of 5.