That Which Will Never Be

When your baby dies, your dreams for her die also. All of the things you spent months imagining while she was flipping and flopping inside you will never happen.

You will never see her first smile. Her first steps. Her first tooth.

You miss bath time and story time. Cuddle time. Nap time. Bedtime.

You will never take her fishing, teach her to ride a bike, go to a baseball game or take her to the beach.

You don’t get to see her off to preschool, kindergarten, middle and high school. School dances. Field trips. No graduation. No college degrees. No weddings. You don’t get to see her become a mother.

There is so much more. You miss out on all sorts of moments you can’t even name because they are experiences only parents of living children can have. The bereaved parent also mourns the unknown.

Would she have a sweet, quiet voice when she said her first word? Would her dad’s silly noises have made her giggle? Would she have been tomboy? Would she be shy or outgoing?

What little things would she have said that would have surprised me or filled my heart with joy? Would we have bonded over certain TV shows or musicians? Would she have liked sports? What experiences would we have, whether happy or sad?

One thing we do know is how much we love her. And we know she is still with us.

But it is really hard to accept that Joanna will never grow up.

To honor and remember J, we purchased my cousin’s veil for her wedding, which we were able to attend over weekend. Back when Emily was visiting us in January, my mom and I took her shopping for her gown. When she had found the dress, we added a veil to see how it looked. Emily loved it and I knew I would need to buy it for her. For Joanna, who would never wear one.

At the wedding, I was so happy to see that veil. Emily was beautiful and the veil completed the look. But I was also so sad. Why isn’t our baby here? Why won’t she get to meet her wonderful family? Why does she have to miss out? All the things we hoped for her…they just will not be.

We feel that every single day.

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Coexisting

Joy and grief. Coexisting. A lot of my writing touches on this interesting phenomenon. A very common topic at our support group and perhaps the most common theme of my every-day life since Joanna’s birth.

I’ve seen it many times in my life, the coexisting. I was so joyful to graduate high school, college. I was excited and happy to be done, to be leaving, to be moving forward in life! Then I thought about leaving all of my dear friends, my safety net, my familiar little world. And suddenly I was also grieving the past few years and I just wanted to hold on and never leave.

Another instance. Someone I love, my Grandpa, was sick. He was dying. I love him so much and was so grateful for each remaining moment with him. There was joy in hearing his voice in my ears. There was joy in the sound of saying his name. There was (and still is) joy in my fantastic memories of growing up with him. Sharing a birthday. His laugh. Love of George Jones. Slammin’ air guitar. There was even joy for him when he took his last breath and entered the gates of Heaven – for there is no more sickness or pain in his body. But the second I’d realized he was really gone, the grief washed in and over me and pulled me under. Happy and sad, all at once.

Of course, there’s also the situation where I’m having a baby, and she dies. What? There is joy in that? I’m going to tell you – yes. Some days it is hard to see the joy, but it’s there! You just have to look. I read this quote recently in a book I just finished making my way through (crying my way through). It captures the situation well.

It was the most anticipated moment of my life, and I knew in an instance, it would forever be the most painful. Having the best and worst moment of your life share the same space within your heart is indescribable… -Three Minus One

My mom asked me a few months after losing Joanna if I thought that 8:07 p.m. on Monday nights would become easier or be happier for me someday. But what I told her was that 8:07 is often less sad than other times. Maybe my baby came quietly into the world at 8:07 p.m. on a Monday night. Maybe I was in a lot of pain and tired and heartbroken at 8:07. But at 8:07 my firstborn child, my daughter, was born. She was perfect aside from the non-beating heart. Perfect and mine. I could not have been more proud and joyful in that moment. But of course, that coexisting grief was right there too, since Sunday morning when the doctor told us those four words no parent should ever have to hear, there is no heartbeat.

This week I was promoted at work – it was joyful! But at the same time, there was such sorrow because had Joanna been born alive, it probably wouldn’t have happened. I would choose her over the promotion.

Tomorrow is my cousin’s wedding – a joyful and happy celebration! But Joanna was supposed to meet her great grandma for the first time while we are there.

A week from Sunday is Father’s Day. We are so happy Bill is a dad, and such a good one. But we are so sad his baby girl is not here to cuddle and love on.

So and it will go for the rest of my life, joy and grief together.


With all my heart I will praise the Lord. I will never forget how kind He’s been.
Psalm 103:2 CEV