It’s the hoiday season once again and somehow I am filled with both joy and sadness. I have a wonderful husband, a beautiful 8 year old daughter, and an amazing, supportive family. The holiday season reinforces all these blessings yet with each waking moment my broken heart quietly bleeds, grieving broken hopes, unfulfilled dreams, and silent pain. You see, two years ago we welcomed our second child. The pregnancy was high risk and at 5 months I was put on bedrest. My doctor was fantastic and provided me with the best care possible and then, on that special day, just over two years ago, we finally met our beautiful new addition. Wow, we made it! Big sister was excited, she now had the sibling she had always dreamed about and my husband and I were in awe of Gods grace. We had been told having children would be difficult and yet, here we were with two beautiful little girls. How was it possible to be this happy?!! Dreams really do come true.

Three days later, our lives were shattered when the ER doctor walked in and said the words no parent ever wants to hear, “I’m sorry, there is nothing we could do, your baby did not make it”.

So you see, I suffer silently. No one sees my broken heart. I’ve attempted to mend it but the pieces just don’t seem to fit right. I am a survivor of infant mortality, the death of a child before their first birthday. No one could ever tell us what happened. She just stopped breathing. I’ve asked God why a thousand times.I’ve cried so deeply I thought I would suffocate. I have had days I thought I was losing my sanity. The pain of losing a child is real. It stops you in your tracks. It makes you wonder why life is worth living. It makes you question God. Yes, I questioned God. Why was the world still moving with people going about their daily lives like everything was perfect. Why did people try to comfort me with words that made everything worse . . . “don’t worry, you’ll have more . . . at least she was just a baby . . . you’ll get over this soon . . . try not to think about it, try to forget . . .” Didn’t they understand that I couldn’t forget, and even worse, that I couldn’t have more babies. She was not just a baby, she was my daughter!

In our two year journey we found a support group. A place where we could express our feelings without judgement. We also stood on faith, believing that God was always by our side. Most importantly we allowed ourselves to grieve. When I needed to cry, I cried. When I needed to yell, I yelled. I also refused to accept a timeline for my grief. I know my heart will never be the same, and I know holidays will always be a reminder of our loss, but I am learning to own my grief and to figure out what I need to do to be healthy. So this holiday season as I acknowledge the blessings in my life, I also acknowledge that on that fateful day, two years ago, my life changed forever. I am a new version of myself and that is alright. I have learned that God has given us all unending strength and all we have to do is take everything one step at a time. So, if like me, this holiday season brings you both joy and silent pain, remember you are not alone. I am right here with you. We may never have met but I know what it feels like to be where you are. I light a candle in memory of my daughter and I believe she is always close. I heal by acknowledging I am on a journey and I exist to comfort you and affirm that you will make it through. I light a candle for you and for me.