The loneliest goodbye

Lisa's Mckenzie

Those sweet feet prints are of a darling baby girl who never took a breath in this world.  Her life ended in her momma’s womb.  I KNOW this momma, I saw the heart break this momma felt.  I can still see her walking up to the tiny little casket, her baby, her future, her dream.  Dead, gone, forever.  Tears stream as I think about this sweet momma, as this baby was the second that wouldn’t take a breath in this world, and there would be one more.

The first baby that would not make it outside the womb my friend believed the lie “don’t look and it wont hurt”.  The second she held, bathed, dressed….until she had to give her back.  Forever. At least she had a box this time, pictures, feet prints, tiny clothing.  Then there was another years later…a boy.  She had to give him back too.

I’ll never forget the day I asked my friend about her girl.  It was like she was waiting.  Waiting for someone to remember, someone to ask.  She pulled a box out from under her bed, and I got to be part of it all.  For a few seconds there were tears and to my surprise joy.  Joy as my friend remembered what it was like to hold her, to bathe her, to dress her.  Then sorrow as we packed the box up.  My friend gently folded and put what she had left in this world of her girl.  Proof that her girl was here, proof that she was a momma.

There are many momma’s out there that have a story.  A story of a baby that didn’t make it into the world…or if they did make it, it was for a few short breaths.  The rest of us never ever ask.  As we do not want to be the one to stir up her pain.   What I know now, what I wish I would have always known, the momma never ever forgets.  The loss is always right beneath the smile.

A friend sat at my kitchen table just yesterday.  We talked about her baby boy…the one that his heart just stopped beating in her womb one day.  Gone, just like that.  She went in for a ultrasound, everything was fine days before.  Days before she heard the heartbeat of her unborn baby.  She dreamed of her boy coming into the world…he was gone, just gone.


Sure she went on to have another boy.  Plus two girls before him.  Eight pregnancies all together, three live births.   She spoke of one of the “miscarriages” that she had on her break at work.  Reminding me of  a doctor I know who was having her own miscarriage as she was delivering someone else’s healthy baby into this world.  Her hope and dream leaving her body as she brought a healthy full term baby into the world.  The world says keep on moving, on to the next thing.  I see a bunch of momma’s who never grieved their babies, they just built walls.  If they ever let the sorrow all the way out it may never go away.  So they keep on moving.  The loneliest goodbye.

I think of how my daughter and I wondered into the store and began a conversation with a joyful cashier behind the counter.  The woman mentioned one of her grandchildren.  I went on to ask her how many grandchildren she had all together.  I don’t remember the number she gave me.  I do remember her saying that one of them didn’t make it. “She was a stillbirth” the lady said.  The lady went on to tell me that she does not always tell others about that baby.  While it had happened years before the grandmother still ached for her daughters broken heart as well as her own.  God provided a quiet moment in the store, tears slipped down both of our cheeks as the grandmother went on to tell how painful it is to loose something so precious.  The loneliest goodbye.

The grandmother needs to count her grandbaby.  The momma’s need to count their babies…all of them.  We need to not be afraid of hurting with the families.  Let’s stop saying things like “that’s going to make me cry” and running away.  Let’s be a world where we can say, “that’s going to make me cry” and run to the hurt.

One of my Christian sisters told me of a time when she had a miscarriage.  A woman from our church showed up on her doorstep and said, “I always wondered why it happened to me, now I know.”  It happened so she would know what it was like.  She could walk with my friend heart in heart because she KNEW what a loneliest goodbye was like.

As a obgyn nurse, I have sat with some of the momma’s who have been through this.  The times when I let myself feel with and for the patient and just let the tears flow with them have formed relationships and sacred moments with families that I will cherish forever.

I have a cousin who went full term with a baby.  She believed she was in labor, went to the hospital, it was too early so she was sent home.  Her baby girl was fine at that point.  When she went back to the hospital, there was no heartbeat.  Her baby, her dream was gone.  The families excitement of a new baby coming into the world was changed to heart ache and pain. I remember hearing the heart wrenching news.  How would she ever go on?  My cousin talks about her girl Aubrey.  She reminds my heart that a momma never ever forgets.  Behind that smile she remembers.

A song for Aubrey’s mom and all the momma’s who share, the loneliest goodbye:


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