Day Three: In Honour ….
Today’s photo is of a darling little girl who is nearly four. She was wandering around our property collecting shiny stones (one of her favourite things to collect), wearing a pair of gumboots, with her barely-there- hair tied up in buns. I caught this moment when she was blowing a dandelion into the breeze.
This little girl is my third daughter, my fourth born child. Her name is Lucia and she is a surviving identical twin.
My second daughter, her identical twin is Charlize. I’m doing this project for Charlize.
I have had a total of five pregnancies. My first was successful and resulted in our beautiful Orlando. After years of IVF our second ended in tears on our wedding anniversary. Our third resulted in our beautiful daughter Indiana. Our fourth resulted in our identical twins, Charlize and Lucia – happiness and devastation all in a few days. Our fifth ended in tears.
This project is for all my babies, the living ones for they shall never fear talking about everyday truths. For the ones who never blossomed, that they will never be forgotten. Mostly for our angel Charlize who breathed life for 32 hours. For her tiny footprints have left an eternal trail of love and I will say her name forever so it is etched into life and all its joy.
Charlize and Lucia were born on the 14th November 2011 at 3.24pm and 3.25pm weighing 749grams and 802grams.
I will never forget just how small my girls were when they were rapidly pulled from my body away from the placenta that was supposed to be feeding them, giving them life. Instead it complicated things for them and put Lucia in a fatal situation causing her heart to stop functioning the way it should.
At 27 weeks and one day, Charlize came into the world a little crooked as her and Lucia had very limited room engaged into my less than tiny and un-accomodating pelvis.
When I saw my girls some hours after they were born, I could not contain my overwhelming love for them. I wanted to reach for them both and cuddle them to me.
I never imagined that my girls would never ever again be entwined in each other. That I would never hold them to me together EVER!
We spent the following day in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in awe that we had created two perfectly beautiful identical little girls. The girls starting ticking boxes, moving forward on the see saw of life and death and then without warning Charlize got sick. Very sick.
The germ she got would’ve killed a healthy adult, so at 749grams with no immune system she battled. She fought terribly hard. The hardest I’ve ever seen anyone fight. The time came when I was with her on my own to call her Daddy to come back to the hospital because I knew, as no Mummy or Daddy should ever have to, that she could fight no longer.
Her beautiful dark eyes looked right into mine and I knew she and I both wanted the same thing. We wanted a cuddle. Our beautiful nurse passed my precious daughter to me. The relief I felt at finally being able to hold her, comfort her, pour all my love into her, tell her repeatedly how much we loved her. My body trembled because it’s quite delicate learning how to hold a micro premmie. She nestled her head close to my heart and I sobbed. When I looked up her Daddy’s face was drenched in love and tears. I passed her to him and I watched as his body trembled with sadness.
Our daughter met both sets of her grandparents and my dear sister, her Aunty, who all held and comforted her in her final hours.
Not long after she took her final breath in Mummy and Daddy’s arms her sister decided it was a little too much for her to handle.
Our doctors and nurses decided to put Lucia back onto a ventilator so her body could rest and she could grieve. There she stayed on the ventilator for a very long two weeks.
Somewhere in there, I am certain that Charlize whispered in Lucia’s ear that she needed to fight hard to stay in this world and to live a life for both of them. I have no doubt that Charlize holds Lucia’s hand every step of the way and she is the reason Lucia’s eyes sparkle with cheekiness. I am forever grateful that Charlize gave Lucia the determination to stay with her loving family.
Losing Charlize was and will always be the most unbearably devastating part of our lives. But, nearly four years on I can say her name without wetness in my eyes, without a quiver in my throat.
Losing Charlize made our family strong. Losing Charlize gave our family new direction and life. We now truly live every moment as it should be lived – with total joy, with no hesitation and no regrets.
Losing Charlize taught me that from the deepest and darkest depths of grief, amazing and loving friendships can be made. Peace can eventually be found.
Losing Charlize taught me that there are five stages to grief. They have no order. They have no time limit. You can move from one to five in a day and back again. Grief is messy. It is loud. It is silent. It is ugly and it is heart wrenchingly cruel. Grief is a constant journey that only you can control and sometimes even that is not possible. Grief cannot be compared. There is no deeper loss than that of losing your child.
Most importantly, losing Charlize taught me that love is deeper than you imagine. It knows no boundaries. It takes no effort. Love just is and it’s beautiful and perfect just like she was.
It is with great honour that I dedicate this years project to my darling daughter, Charlize Ersilia Stephens. Mummy will love you to the end of time my darling girl xxxxx