This week, my friend Rebekah shared a photo on Facebook of herself, her husband and their beautiful daughter, Emilia. It was taken during the seven, precious hours that they held Emilia after she slipped away peacefully – at four days old.
Embraced, kissed, held, loved.
An outpouring of grief and support threaded its way through her parents’ Facebook walls, their friends’ walls, and the walls of friends of their friends – a tsunami of love from a community that held its breath as Emilia gave life her best shot.
News of her passing (on Valentine’s Day – during Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week) hit hard. She’d taught us what beautiful is. She’d shown us what time means. She’d inspired us to value the breaths that we take, the heartbeats, the music, the sunsets…
How could this happen? Why?
I’d barely begun grappling with what it meant for her parents and brothers when another newborn photo was posted – this baby wrapped snug in a second outpouring of love and relief and joy and hope, as was his mum, Mamamia’s very own Rebecca Sparrow … Finlay.
Embraced, kissed, held, loved – just like Emilia. Just like his sisters Ava and Georgie. And home.
For almost two weeks now, I’ve watched Fin and Emi twirl through my Facebook feed in a bittersweet dance of hope and heartbreak. One just starting. One at her end. Their mummies watch over them, protectively – bonded by more than their first names, more than the immeasurable love they feel for their children – each having stood where the other is now.
Bringing home a healthy son. Losing a baby daughter.
The circle of life announced itself, as it tends to do in moments of unmitigated grief: mysterious, powerful, tragic, beautiful.
My mother’s only sister, Ella, was stillborn in the 1930s. If a baby was born sleeping then, she was taken away immediately.