We started out at about 10 in the morning on Sunday to our first Walk to Remember in Suffern, NY. I looked out our living room window and noted the dreary skies. The air was heavy, clouds brimming with rain. I commented on how fitting it was that we should have such sad weather on today of all days.We laughed and joked around to break the ice, listened to the Giants game on the radio on the way up. Neither one of us knew what to expect but we love car trips. We tried not to think about what we'd experience at the end of the route.
In the car, I scrolled through my twitter feed, reading out headlines that caught my eye. For most of the trip I stared out the window, lost in my thoughts. What if I don't feel anything when I get there? Is this a mistake? Is it going to make me more sad? EH kept asking if I was OK. I kept nodding my head yes and we traveled on.
The group assembled in the parking lot to gather their balloons, sign a memorial banner and mingle with the other parents. It ended up being a lot more people than what's captured here. I loved the mountains in the background. That black van was playing country music and EH shook his head in disbelief as I sang along to a few songs. I couldn't believe how many people were carrying multiple balloons like us. Most of the parents present lost full term babies who were fine one day and gone the next or a stillbirth. There were also a few women with miscarriages. One thing that I noticed, however, is that they all had children. It gave me hope that maybe one day EH and I would too.
We signed this beautiful memorial banner as well. Our little message lists our babies names and "loved and remembered by 'Mommy & Daddy.'"
Soon it was time for the balloon release. Over 96 families stepped out from under the tent and gathered in a circle while a bagpiper played. Up until this time, EH and I had shed a few solitary tears but neither of us was prepared for the deluge of tears that occurred when we let go of our balloons. The sobs shook me as I watched our balloons go up and up and up into an overcast sky. EH stood next to me rubbing his eyes, furiously wiping away his own tears. And when I lost track of our balloons, I cried even harder. I wasn't ready to let them go.
We stood for a time staring at the sky and saying our silent goodbyes. We knew we'd never forget them but we were ready to face whatever came next. As we got back to the car, EH told me that he felt at peace. I realized that I felt the same. I felt that we'd given our babies a proper memorial,a proper goodbye, a proper acknowledgment that they did indeed exist to us and were loved. One that no doctor, or well-meaning friend or family member could trivialize or take away.