The Blanket

Kate of my dreaming
Unruly spirals of strawberry silk
Eyes as blue as his
Your chubby hand touches my face
and I am awake.

I don’t think a March 13 will ever begin with anything but tears for me. As I was lying in bed this night before, dreading my dreams, dreading awakening tomorrow morning missing what I never had, I began to think about our first March 13. March 13, 2011. The due date of the daughter I miscarried.

Gregg knew my pain on that day would be unbearable, and he did a very Gregg thing – he planned a day full of things I would like to do. He put aside his own grief on this day to save me from sinking into sadness. Our first order of business was to go see his Grammy in her assisted living apartment.

Grammy was absolutely the best human being I had the honor of knowing. She was completely kind to everyone, without exception. She forgave everyone who wronged her, even if it was an unthinkable wrong. She was well traveled and smart. Her smile was as bright as her blue eyes. She was beautiful, inside and out. One of the ways she showed love for her children and grandchildren was to make blankets for new babies, blankets that were forever treasured.

To my knowledge, Grammy had not known about my pregnancy. While she would never have verbally disapproved of us getting pregnant before we were married, her strict Nazarene upbringing would have made her feel a bit disappointed in us, we thought. We were going to tell her, but then the baby was lost.

So months later, on this March 13, we sat with her. And when she announced, “Oh! I have something for you! I made you a blanket. I make them for everyone who has a baby, either pink or blue, so I made you two a white one,” we were stunned. My heart skipped a beat. How, or even if, she knew about the pregnancy, we still don’t know. And how she could have known that this particular day was the day I would have wrapped our baby in a beautiful blanket…she couldn’t have known. She could have only felt it.

I keep this blanket close to me tonight, thinking of Grammy, and of the perfect soul of a baby named Katie Hope.

Originally written March 13, 2014:

Today she would have been three. I would have given her birthday cake for breakfast and let her dress herself. She would have jumped into her daddy’s arms and he would have lifted her high and said, “There’s my birthday girl!”

Every March 13, I imagine her birthday. Every Christmas, I imagine her Christmas morning half-awake look of wonder. Every Father’s Day, I imagine her waking Gregg with kisses. She would have been his world. His only child.

She would have had my fire and his patience . She would have loved like me and lived like him. She would have dreamed and planned. She would have been the very best of both of us. If souls do continue into the universe, hers is surely making it a better universe.

The day she was lost to us is still clear in my mind. “I see the baby,” said the doctor, looking not at me, but at the ultrasound screen, “but what I don’t see is a heartbeat.” The list of things I wanted to ask him fell from my hand and drifted to the floor. Down, down, it fluttered, down, questions that no longer mattered.

The rest of that day is a blur. The rest of that month is a blur. Pain wrapped in sadness and buried under a mountain of guilt. I had two children of my own. I had lost Gregg’s only child, and even though the circumstances were rare and unavoidable, I still felt that I had taken from him the greatest gift he had ever received.

I cried for a year. He suffered in silence, mostly, but when his silence broke, I broke again, too. We grieved in waves. The grief comes less frequently now, but it is palpable today, the anniversary of the day she would have been born to us.

Last year, there were robin’s eggs in a nest outside my window. I watched Mama Bird sit on her nest each day and I even spoke to her. I was touched by her dedication, sitting through wind and rain. One morning after the little birds had hatched, Mama left them briefly. I returned to the window later to find the nest had fallen and the babies had died. I sobbed uncontrollably. “She was a good mother,” I repeated as Gregg held me. I didn’t want Mama Bird to feel any more guilt.

The moments of my sadness are fewer than the moments of my gratitude to my daughter. Because of her, Gregg and I faced our fears of remarriage and became husband and wife. For the gift of her soul and for the love she brought us, we are eternally grateful. I guess we’re the ones with the birthday gift.

Happy Birthday, Katie Hope Cory. We love who you would have been.

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