We did not lose Kaylee and I am thankful every day that we did not. We lost many other things in the experiences of her first year though. Mostly, we lost our innocence. Of course we knew that our children could get sick. We knew our children could die. But to stand in a room and watch life and death battle over our child, we know it now. For real.
It is like the world has had it's brightness and contrast altered.
Nothing looks the same.
The world is an altogether sweeter and more frightening place than we ever could have imagined.
Like many parents who have had medically fragile children, there are a few memories, experiences and places which somehow manage to sneak up on me and sucker punch me in the stomach.
When I was sorting out clothes for Amy, I could not seem to find many size 000 girl and unisex clothes amidst my stash of baby clothes. It occurred to me that this was because when Kaylee was wearing that size, she was vomiting blood and digestive juices several times each day and night. Few little pink outfits survived those days. As I dressed my baby girl Amelia Jane Hope a week or two ago in her brand new, tiny pink outfits, a heady mix of hormones, sleeplessness, grief, happiness and a thousand other thoughts and emotions whelmed up and overtook me. Hot tears poured down my face. Intense gratitude for the strong, healthy, pink baby in my hands. For the privilege of doing this again. This holding a healthy child with no tubes, wires and worries. For the fact that we all survived those awful days and still have our beautiful Kaylee. And intense grief. For the fact that I can never reclaim those days for Kaylee and have her pink and healthy and in my arms as a newborn rather than anchored to medical equipment. For the broken chain and the little pink outfits that Erin and Anna and Kaylee wore that never made it through that storm. And what that means really. The other things that didn't make it through. The damage we suffered as a family. The innocence we lost.
And the good did not make the bad better - it is still as bitter as bile.
And the bad did not taint the good - it is still as sweet as honey.
And somehow in that moment I held both in my mouth and tasted them.
And I wept tears of grief and gladness at the same time.