March 15th is a very difficult day for me. Well I suppose the 16th through the 18th will be difficult. Looking back we believe that March 15th was the last day Cara was alive. While, I didn't realize she wasn't moving until the 17th, the fact that she was likely gone of the 16th is extremely difficult for me.
I have come to terms with the fact that she had likely died by the 16th, but still it hurts me to know I wasn't more attentive. There some specific times that day (the 16th) that I thought it was weird she wasn't moving. In church, she was usually so active and I know she didn't kick that Sunday. I came home after church and laid down on the couch to take a nap. Tim asked me if Cara was kicking. "No," I said with a smile on my face, "she's going to sleep too." Then later that night we met friends from out of town for dinner. I was talking about Cara and thought it was strange she wasn't showing them her normal activity. It wasn't until after we learned that she was dead that all of these events came together for me.
I just didn't realize that losing Cara at that point was even a possibility. I had not been told to monitor her activity or her kicks. I'm fairly certain we could have saved her had I known to kick count, because looking back I realize that she did slow down. Again another difficulty reality.
Back to the 15th...on the 15th Tim and I spent the entire day preparing the house for baby. The months leading up to Cara's birth, we had taken on several projects in our home. The 15th was final prep day - cleaning those last few closets, preparing the crib, and general organization.At one point, I collapsed in the rocker in the nursery and spent some time gazing out the window at the Bradford Pear in full bloom. I pictured myself there with Cara in several days, nursing and gazing at that same tree. It was in that dreamy moment that Cara was kicking and I asked Tim to get the video camera. We have some footage of her last few kicks as a result.
Later that evening we went to my parents' house for pizza and to spend some time with them. My mom's cousin, who she was extremely close with, had died the day before. My parents were leaving the next morning to travel 6 hours to be with family. I was under strict "hold the baby in" instruction until they returned. During dinner, Cara's foot whipped from one side of my belly to the other. Perhaps one last distress kick? I don't remember any other movements after that one although I'm sure there were probably more. I suspect she probably slipped away sometime between Saturday evening and Sunday morning.
And so March 15th falls on a Sunday this year. This same Sunday last year was Palm Sunday on the Liturgical calendar. As I followed the procession of palms into church, I unknowingly laid my little lamb at the foot of the cross.
I recently listened to a podcast of a sermon preached by Peter Gomes on March 16, 2008. He said this in relation to Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.
"In order to take it all in you have to consider all the parts, you need the weeping at the tombs, the sweat, and the blood, you need all of that together in order to appreciate fully in what dawns as fresh as the morning next Sunday. There is no joy without suffering, there is no victory without struggle. In this week we call Holy, we are reminded of that. It is all part of that other dimension through which we must travel. You must be here on Thursday and Friday and Saturday. But there is a lot stuff between now and then to take in if you want a full share of that full new dimension you need to participate. You can't just leap from Sunday mountain peak to Sunday mountain peak, you have to walk through the valley."
And walk through the valley we did that week. We found some respite on Easter Sunday when we were back in church celebrating the resurrection and the hope we have that our daughter lives on. However, in many ways we continue to walk through the valley.Those same palms we carried that Sunday a year ago were burned and used for ashes on Ash Wednesday just a few weeks ago. "From dust you have come and to dust you shall return." A poignant reminder of the palm I carried with my daughter who was later that week returned to the dust of the earth. A year later her mark still boldly displayed on my life.
I sit here weeping as I think of that last little kick. I can't believe it's been a year since I last felt her alive inside me. Every day her absence is known in my life. It consumes me less than it did in the early days, but ever present it is. I would give everything to rewind to one year ago at this moment, to realize the distress my poor baby was in and rush to the hospital so we could save her.