On Monday, David, his family and I said goodbye to Isla. It had been two weeks since she died and Dave and I were waiting for this day. Our daughter's spirit had left us shortly after she entered the world and we knew we'd have to say goodbye to her physical body before we could begin to properly heal. We went back and forth between a burial and a cremation and it was excruciating trying to decide which would be better. In the end, two things swayed us. Firstly, the gardens of the crematorium are breathtaking. Everything is manicured professionally, there are beautiful trees and flowers everywhere, including cherry blossom trees, and there are even bunnies hopping around. When Dave and I walked around the grounds, we felt at peace. It would be a fitting place to go and sit and think about the beauty of our daughter's life.
Secondly, we know we'll settle in Canada someday soon. We knew that we couldn't leave Isla behind in a place that would be so far away from us. When we leave, we don't want to leave anything behind, especially Isla's body. So we decided on cremating her. We also plan on having her name engraved on a memorial that is especially for babies. When we finally settle down somewhere permanently, we plan on planting a cherry blossom tree in her honour. However, all these things are incidental to the feeling I had in my heart after Isla was finally gone.
Her service was short, like we wanted it to be, but as lovely as Isla herself. Ian, the chaplain who blessed her in the hospital gave the service and he comforted me with his warm words and tranquil demeanour. It was not easy - seeing her tiny coffin and walking her down the aisle of the crematorium, but I felt steady, especially since Dave and I had a few moments alone to tell our baby how much we love her and how we'll see her again one day. I felt like we were letting go and I know that's one step closer in accepting what happened. But even though we were letting her go, I felt close to her and I believe I'll always feel that way. For me, the parting blessing confirms this:
"When you are weary and in need of strength,
when you are lost and sick of heart,
remember her, Isla.
When you have a joy to share
or difficult decisions to make,
remember her, Isla."
I plan on doing just that, for the rest of my days.
After the service, we all walked around the grounds. It was a stunning day, with the sun shining so brightly. It lifted my heart. We even went for a drive later. After the tears in the morning, I felt peace.
I know it's early days and Dave and I have a long way to go before we feel like ourselves again, but I feel like my faith is returning. I know I have a choice. I can let Isla's death weigh me down and I could give in to the despair of losing her. I could stop smiling and I could stay in bed for a year while my heart grieves. It would be so easy. I've had these thoughts and others that are too dark to share.
On the other hand, I could remember the joy Isla brought to our lives. Those 23 weeks were beautiful. Every single one. The week I got the positive test. The week we told our parents that they were going to be grandparents. The week we saw her on the ultrasound for the first time. The week when I felt really sad and lonely and felt her kick for the first time and understood the enormity of what I was doing. I was so in love with my daughter. We both were. We both are. I want to grieve for her properly, but I also want to heal so that I can fully love my husband and we can grow our family again.
I know there are going to be ups and downs and I will never be the same person again, but I'm so thankful and so grateful that I am Isla's mother.