Losing Cherish (The day I lost my firstborn)
I still remember the details of that day in photographic detail. Even though it has been 6 years there are still days when I ask “why me?” There are still days when I stare at a 6 year old little girl and think about my Cherish. Her younger sister is 5. I wonder how she would have been as a big sister. Would I be constantly yelling at the 2 of my girls for fighting or would they love each other and be kind to one another? I bet Cherish would tell Ana all the ways to get mommy to say yes. I bet she’d be a big help to her baby brother.
The things I did to try and self medicate I likely never would have done had she still been here. But not even Heroin and Vodka could erase the image of her lifeless body…
I had been looking at her photos and thinking how blessed I was to have such a beautiful baby girl. She was so pretty, so precious. She kept this expression on her face like she was unbothered by anything. I chuckled at her expression which I called her Garfield face. And she looked older than she was I often joked that I should have named her Olivia. Because she looked so old.
I was watching her videos and looking at her pictures over and over. I envisioned our lives together, how I planned to move to Ft Myers area for bigger more affordable houses. I thought of how her voice would sound when she spoke, how much fun I would have teaching her how to go potty, ride a bike, tie her shoes… I thought about calling to check on things but I remembered my husband’s words “you don’t have to call every two hours, I have to get some rest for work. Our daughter is fine in my care, stop worrying so much, we will both be here when you get home”. He had told me that every night for 4 months. I just wanted to check in and make sure everything was ok but he was right, he was her father he’d been doing a fine job and it was time I stopped worrying so much.
I felt my milk letting down so I knew it must have been 5 o’clock because that’s the time she ate, I knew I had to pump before I got my patient up and ready for school. I closed my phone and stood when a call came in from my husband. I answered before the first ring was completed. I don’t remember if I said hello. I just remember his shaky voice say “Cherish is not breathing”.
I woke up on the floor of my client’s home. I thought “God please tell me I passed out and had a nightmare”. I felt an icy chill take over my body as I glanced over at my phone that I had obviously dropped and it was laying face up and the light from it was dimming “missed call from hubby” it read, before the screen turned black.
I sprang to my feet and ran to knock on my patients’ moms’ door I know I stumbled across words before saying “He said she’s not breathing!” I heard her yell out “GO”! and I ran as fast as I could out the door. I got to my jeep when I realized I didn’t have my keys. My house was only about 5 miles away and I strongly considered just running home on foot but my better judgement kicked in so I ran back inside and grabbed my purse and phone. I sped home purposely breaking the law and not breaking once hoping that a cop would follow me. I was praying, pleading, begging, bargaining with God to let everything be ok. A sort of calm did descend over me as I thought I may have been overreacting. I thought maybe I didn’t hear my husband correctly, or maybe he made a mistake.
I busted through the door of my apartment and followed the labored sound of my husband’s voice. I saw him on his knees performing CPR on my baby. Her body was still as he pushed on her chest and mucus oozed from her nostrils and mouth.
I ran outside. I looked up towards the sky. I was standing in the same spot I was standing in 13 months prior when I looked up and noticed a thin cloud in the shape of what looked like an embryo, just before I took the test that confirmed I was pregnant. I gazed into the heavens for an answer and in that moment rage touched me as I glared into the sky. I felt an overwhelming feeling of pity and sadness in return. Emergency personnel was just pulling in and I pointed them to my apartment. I followed the last person in and into my bedroom and watched as they scrambled about franticly. One guy asked me “How long has she been gone”? To which I replied “What”?! He stuttered seemingly annoyed, anxious and overwhelmed “unresponsive” he corrected himself. “I don’t know. I just got here” I told him. There were a few more moments of mayhem as people shoved themselves in our tiny room. Eventually someone asked me to please have a seat in the living room.
I held my breath and prayed fiercely like I had never prayed before in my life. “Don’t give him the right to take my baby”. I begged over and over and over again. I was referring to the devil. I was always taught that it was The devil who was the originator of sin and death not God. So I pleaded that God not allow this King of Demons to take my first born and only child.
A tall skinny pale skin young man came out, his face was sunken in and beet red he looked frightened and he said something but my brain didn’t register the words until I heard the deep groan from my husband. It was then that I began to cry out. The pain was like nothing I had ever felt before. I was repeating “this is not real, this is not real” “no, no, no” “this is not real”.My husband was stirring around begging them to use the defibrillator on her. He kept saying that would bring her back. I was still crying and I was pinching myself trying to wake up from this night terror.
There was an officer, heavy set, he stood by the TV he had what looked like a smirk on his face. He was saying “it is real and there was nothing you could have done about it”. Suddenly I felt as though he was behind all of this. So I said “You did this didn’t you, you smug, murdering pig”! I was yelling crazy stuff and being belligerent. I started to charge the officer and ask for his gun. Two officers picked me up and began carrying me to my friend’s house. I was flailing out of control and yanking at the holster for the officers’ gun. With every want in my being I wanted them to shoot me dead. I heard my husband’s pathetic, hopeless voice say “they gone lock you up”. The last thing I wanted was to be locked up and away from my child who might still be alive, miracles happen all the time, right? I wouldn’t know for sure until I saw her again.
The officers shoved me into my friends’ apartment and threw me onto her sofa and left. I got up and banged on the door like I didn’t know how to open it and I heard my friend say “I’m so sorry Tera”. Sorry for what is what I wanted to ask her. “None of this is real”! I fell back on her sofa and cried with her arms wrapped around me. A social worker came in and tried to be nice. “Oh so they sent suicide watch huh?” I asked her. “They must wanna see how long it will take for me to kill everybody and then myself”. She would say it was going to be ok and I would tell her that unless she talk to God and ask Him to bring her back right now that nothing was ok. I kept asking where my baby was and why I couldn’t see her. What were they doing to her I kept asking. “Collecting evidence” she said. “Collecting evidence for what?” “after a child dies we have to collect evidence”.
Hours passed like days and eventually I was joined by my brother and sister. My brother was angry and talking about the kingdom where death would be no more. He was repeating that it was all Satan’s doing. My sister was silent and only seemed to be in disbelief. I felt like I had let them down in some way. I apologized to them for their pain. More hours passed and we were sent to the police station. I was drug and alcohol tested and questioned with a recording device present. I just wanted to get that part over because I knew they had to do their job.
After all the formalities were done I again begged to see my baby again. They said they don’t normally let people see the body. “The body”. My whole world, my entire universe, my every happiness was now being referred to as “the body”.
They informed me that I could not touch or kiss her or else it would alter the evidence. I had no intention on obeying them, I just had to get in to see her. I told them whatever they wanted to hear so that they would let me see her.
The doors to the medical examiner’s office came open and there she lay. My Cherish. A smile spread across my face because she was so beautiful. I held on to the love and happinesses I had always gleaned from just one look at her. She looked just like she did when she was sleeping her arms were stretched out over her head like she was reaching. Her face was still and calm. She was sound asleep. “God, was she beautiful”. I watched her and watched her like I had always done while she slept. I was waiting for her chest to rise even a little. I told her I love her and I wanted to say more but … I fell to my knees and boiling hot tears sprung from me.
The pain was worse than it was before it was crippling. I could not walk on my own. I was blinded by the pain. Every breath I tried to take was excruciating. Everything hurt. It was like I was drowning in a river of molten lava. My bone marrow escaped and surrounded my heart, circled around it and hardened to stop it’s beating.