Six years ago, Sophia was born. Six years ago, Sophia died. Between those two events, we had an hour-and-a-half to gently hold her small body, keep her wrapped warmly (even though we did not know if she could feel cold), tell her how loved she was, and marvel at her beauty. The abnormalities the doctors said she would have were there, but I did not see them. Her awkwardly bent knees, slightly overlapped fingers, wrists bent at 90 degree angles, receding chin line were non-existent through my motherly eyes. At 20 weeks, her skin glistened in a deep reddish hue, not yet ready to face the harsh lights. Her eyes did not open; her hair had not grown in. But, as we held her tiny frame, we only noted what was. She had beautifully tiny fingernails that tipped ten perfect fingers. Her slightly agape mouth allowed for a gentle breath to enter and escape in a flawless rhythm. Her facial expression depicted a peacefulness of which we all dream. She had no pain, no suffering, no sign of discomfort.
Six years ago, I became a mother for the first time. We were a family of three, documented by pictures, inked hand and foot prints, clay hand molds, and irreplaceable memories seared into my brain. I think daily of her presence, the smiles we all shared, and the pride we had in choosing her name.
Six years ago, Sophia turned my life on end. What started as enormous grief evolved into a new path for my own life’s journey. Sharing her story is sharing my daughter. It bares my soul. It frees my tormenting anguish to blossom into beauty. Through her brief life, I have connected with many who have felt such a profound heartache. With the conclusion of her life, a door opened that ushered my thoughts into written form. I cultivated my blog, several articles, and a manuscript. Her story, and my ability to share it, has brought solace, peace, and a sense of camaraderie to otherwise lonely individuals praying for relief.
As we celebrate our Sophia today, we are on the doorstep of a new year. We move forward without our first baby, but find her essence all around us. She keeps us grounded and empathic, grateful and blessed, more aware of emotions and sensitive. Her spirit comes alive in our Evelyn, who has looked just like her big sister from the day she was born: same nose, same delicate lips, same smallish yet dimpled chin. Evelyn carries her own physical abnormalities, yet ones that are so reminiscent of Sophia. Evelyn fights to defeat the obstacles that overwhelmed Sophia. Sophia’s energy buoys our drive to survive, has a hand in Evelyn’s success, and pushes her little sister to achieve what she was just too weak to do herself.
We think of her daily, we love her always, we are grateful to have climbed through the grief for her.