Guest post by Jess McCormack
A beautiful summer’s day, warm, but not too hot. A few clouds in the sky, a gentle breeze. I lie in our garden watching the leaves on the big tree flutter in the wind, the same tree we lay and gazed at just after you were gone. The quiet rustling, the dancing light instantly make me think of you, Maeve. I can hear birds chirping, sheep baa-ing and the occasional ‘cock-a-doodle-doo’ from the farm next door. A tiny white butterfly floats and flutters nearby and I hear bees busily buzzing around our flowers. So peaceful, and so very nearly perfect. I feel you here with me, baby girl, in the beauty, in my heart.
The peaceful moment is joyfully interrupted by a squeal of laughter and the charge of little feet racing towards me, almost faster than their accompanying body can manage. Infectious giggles and the welcoming thud of a diving hug from a toddler. I am so lost in my thoughts of you that for the briefest of moments, I think it is you, running across the grass to land in a heap of cuddles and love in my lap. But it’s your little sister who sits there with me, clapping her hands and sharing excited stories of her garden adventures. I smile and plant a big kiss on the top of her head. And as I try to decipher her exuberant chatter, I see again how you are here too. In her delight, her beauty, her every breath, my every breath. I hold her tight and feel such precious closeness to my two girls.
But never far behind those moments of happiness are two piercing words: if only. If only you were here in body too Maeve, squirming and nudging your sister to find your place on my lap. Oh how perfectly you would have fit there! If only. If only I had known something was wrong that night. If only I had shouted and shouted for help. If only I could have kept you safe. If only, if only, if only.
A cloud moves across the sun, mirroring the shadow of sadness on my heart. Will it always be this way? Will I always feel so incomplete? Will I forever be asking “if only, if only, if only”?
I dreamed of you the other night. It was so vivid, so real. You came back to us, a gift, by some magic, brought back to life. I hugged you so tightly and marveled at everything about you. I heard your voice! And saw your mesmerizing eyes. There isn’t a word to truly describe how wonderful it felt to hold you. I knew though– in my dream I knew it wasn’t going to last, and you were only with us for a fleeting moment. I understood I would have to give you back, to say goodbye again. And when the time came, there were no gut-wrenching sobs, no screams of despair from the depths of my being. Not this time. Because in my heart I knew it was just a ‘see you later’. And so with quiet tears tracing my cheeks, I was able to let you go.
I awoke feeling calm. Maybe there is hope that one day it will all feel ok? That one day ‘if’ and ‘only’ will no longer hold their power. And I will lie in my garden, breathing in the beauty, your beauty, with only the ghost of a shadow on my heart.
Jess McCormack became both a mother and a bereaved mother in April 2013, when her beautiful Maeve died during labor. Now she is so grateful to have Maeve’s little sister to hold in her arms, while both her daughters have a hold of their mom’s heart.