When Grace is Gone

5 years ago
Her name was Ava Grace and looking back now, I realize she wasn't meant to be...
The name was not definite —  it could have been Mia or Sera or Julia or even Jack as well — but the image of her was fully formed in my mind. Strawberry blond pigtails bounced as she giggled at  kisses blown on her belly; a smattering of inevitable freckles danced across her nose and cheeks;  her dimpled hands grasped a pink blankie, her fingers working the silky fabric as she drifted of to sleep. She was radiant...and she was mine.
Vintage Barbies, Cabbage Patch Kids, and even an antique Betsy-Wetsy doll decorated her room.  She loved dresses, yet band-aids covered her constantly scraped knees, for although she could spend hours lost in fantastic worlds from classics stories she was determined to find real fairies hiding under garden roses and dirty toadstools.
She was real: the tangible, thriving child of my dreams...then she just wasn't.
Three times I let her slip away.  I know technically it was never my fault, there was never anything I could have done to hold onto her, but guilt is a scar which never truly fades.  
My body failed her. I wasn't strong enough. I couldn't make her hold on tighter. Somehow I just couldn't make her be.
When you have one healthy, amazing child no one seems to understand that fortune may not fall on you again. An uncomfortable shrug and down cast eyes eventually became my only response to the constant questioning about when we were going to have another one. Losses were brushed aside. Yet the words still bit to the core. You already have one child; there's no reason you can't have more. It's just not in God's plan right now. There must have been something wrong with it. You don't really want another mouth to feed, do you? It's for the best. God will give you another baby when you are ready. It's so early it's not a big deal; it's not like it was a 'real' baby you had held or anything.
The wait was excruciating each month, too much time wasted wondering if I was strong enough to recreate her this time, dreaming I was worthy of  breathing life into her tiny cells. Drugs didn't help. Prayers went unanswered. What little faith I once held was washed away in blood. 
Too much time passed, too much of our life spent struggling with the heartbreak and frustration. I finally broke. A dull husk shivering on the bathroom floor was all that remained. It was time to move on while my shattered spirit still had a chance to piece itself back together.
Life goes on, forever fluid as a river, at times flooding my heart with joy, yet occasionally still receding, leaving me hard, dry, and barren. There will always be a lingering part of my soul adrift. A glimpse of a shy smile on a little girl in a crowd, graceful laughter carried in on the breeze: that could have been her. 
Our little family may not be all I had longed for, but it complete, and it is enough. What doesn't kill you does make you stronger. As time passed I chose to appreciate the beautiful family I do have. 

This is my life, and though it will never be perfect, it is good. It is enough.

Her name was Ava Grace and looking back now, I realize her spirt was not meant for this world.


Vinobaby is a sassy, savvy, someday novelist sipping her way to suburban sanity one cheap glass of wine at a time. Discover more of her musings and rants at http://vinobaby.blogspot.com .

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