Today I wanted to write about August 17th. My heart has been connecting recently to thoughts of Hadley and our short time with our daughter. Maybe because the 17th is this weekend. So why August 17th? Because August 17th, 2016 was Hadley's due date.
Every time I hear that date in any context I feel a little sting. That date, August 17th, was ingrained in my mind the second we had our first doctor's appointment. August 17th (or close to it) I would meet my first born. I'd be a mom to a sweet little girl we had already named Hadley. August 17th. August 17th. August 17th. my heart chanted for the entire first half of 2016. That would be the day....all my hopes and dreams pinned onto one day, one date. Well, as life so often does, things did not go according to plan and I met my daughter in a pretty traumatic manner nearly two months sooner than that on June 13th. And even though her birth date and death date are etched into smooth granite stone, and even though the 17th proved to be additionally significant as Hank made his debut on December 17, 2017, I always remember the hype and hope that I put into August 17th.
And I'm thankful for August 17th. Here's why: On August 17th, 2016, when I was supposed to be having all my dreams come true, I was actually at work. It was the first day of school and nothing could prepare me for the stares of former students and their questioning eyes wondering why I was there at all. Shouldn't I be having my baby? Or at least at home taking care of her? Or even home waiting patiently for her arrival? It was the 17th after all. Instead, I'd cry on the way to the first day of school and sigh at the injustice that this day, of all days, seemed so normal. I'd say out loud as I did so often in those days, "This is not how any of this is supposed to be." I got through that first day, my C section scar, two months out, still sore, trying to rehearse how to tell a six year old student that your baby died when they ask how Hadley is doing. It was torture. I hated the fact that my very presence felt like the elephant in the room. People would look at me and burst into tears, squeeze my hand, and tell me they were sorry. Or they'd play it cool and act as if nothing had happened, as if I didn't end the school year hugely pregnant. Any way you sliced it, I felt uncomfortable, awkward, sad and devastated.
That day, THE day, I was hoping for, I'd come home to a quiet house, just AJ and I. The excitement of a new school year was tempered because this was not how August 17th was supposed to feel like at all. So why, exactly, am I grateful for August 17th? Because here's the thing---The fact that August 17th was even significant in my life at all proved to me that for 7 glorious months, I was on cloud 9. I was thrilled and I put all my hope, my unabashed love into one beautiful day in the future. Did it all end up ok, wrapped up in a pretty bow? No. Not at all. But I cherish so heartily my time pregnant with Hadley. I treasure those days. Even if....maybe even BECAUSE the real August 17th was so difficult. Experiencing true hope is a glorious gift and I have no regrets. Loving without fear, hoping when it might even be foolish, and giving yourself over to the terrifying unknown---that's what life is all about.
So find that "August 17th" in your life and throw all your bets in. You might win, you might lose, but if even for a moment, we each deserve the thrill of the chance. So now, three years after loss, when I hear the date "August 17th," I try and remember not what should have been, but what was---a full opening of the heart and the joy and anticipation of truly living. August 17th means hope to me....and hope is always worth having, even when the outcome doesn't look like you imagined. Imagine it anyway.
We miss you, Hadley. Not a day goes by where I am not still learning about life because I got to be your mom.
Savor Your Sparkle,