When I think of life before Alice, I barely recognize myself. I see a girl who is floating through life, struggling to find her purpose and meaning. I see a woman who loves her husband, but is yearning for a missing piece of herself. I see a wife who is losing a battle with depression and anxiety, and is unable to pass her college classes.
I knew it made no sense on paper to try and have a baby, but I also knew in my very soul that it was right. I will never forget how distinctly I could sense Alice’s spirit before she was even conceived. I felt her with me, and knew she was anxious to come join our family. I told Dallas that God had a little girl for us, and we prayed together frequently to know what we should do. We finally received an answer we weren’t expecting. We were told that we could have a baby now or wait, and it was up to us. Dallas initially felt inclined to wait, but when he could sense her too, we started trying right away.
I had always been worried that we would spend months or even years trying to conceive, so when we got a positive pregnancy test after just a few months, I took it as another sign that we were making the right choice.
I called my mother to tell her the news that same morning. I couldn’t wait to share my excitement! She was happy for us, but she couldn’t hide the fact that she was concerned. How could a girl who was only waking up in time for her 12:00 anatomy class about half the time be a functioning mother? Dallas and I shared her concerns, but we felt certain that this little spirit needed to come to us.
I transferred schools to get a fresh start academically, and began classes. I was barely getting started on the semester when my morning sickness hit me- hard. I was throwing up every day, multiple times a day. Even though I was sick, and had a better reason than ever to drop out of school, I kept going and I got a 4.0 that semester. The following semesters went on, and I kept working hard at school. I had to excuse myself from class many times to throw up, only to rinse out my mouth and return. All throughout my pregnancy I got A’s – the first of my college career.
Once Alice was born, things got even better. One of my most vivid and cherished memories of her life was the day she was born. Dallas and I had finally gotten some sleep following an all-night labor party, and the visitors had finally subsided. It was the first time we were alone as a family. It was dark in the room, except for a warm glow from a single lamp in the corner. Dallas climbed into my hospital bed and held me, as I held Alice. We all just stared in amazement and loved and kissed and held and praised one another. I felt a peace deeply in my soul that I hadn’t experienced since my depression had reared its head 6 years prior.
Alice brought that peace with her wherever she went for her whole 4 months and 25 days of life. Two weeks after she was born, I went back to school online. Again I got A’s. I was finally keeping my house clean. My insomnia subsided and I slept better than I ever had. There was a sweetness in our marriage, that had previously been unachieved. I was doing my hair and getting dressed every day. I made dinner at home every night. My family noticed that I was finally myself again. I knew that God had sent me this little perfect spirit to help me heal. Alice made me better in every way. She made me whole.
The day she passed, I felt my newly mended soul had been ripped apart. Just as I was beginning to see the light, darkness surrounded me.
My sorrow is enormous. To be completely honest, I cry almost daily. I miss Alice with my whole being. I miss being a mother. I miss seeing her cute grin in the morning. I miss nursing. Weirdly I miss changing diapers. I miss knowing exactly what to do when she cries. I miss showing her off at church. I miss singing “I love you a bushel and a peck” and moving her arms along in the choreography I invented. I miss hearing her laugh. I miss all of it.
But I realized if I give into this sorrow and allow it to entirely consume me, what purpose would her life have had? Did she come to Earth to heal me, only to leave me worse off than before she came? No. I can’t believe that. I won’t believe that.
I can still be strong. I can still succeed in school. I can still be kind. I can still be beautiful.
Alice’s death is the tragedy of my lifetime. I am allowed to be sad. I am allowed to mourn her. I need to grieve for her, but I can do that without giving into the darkness entirely.
These words written by Michelle Curtis Villalobos resonated so deeply with me. After her daughter Violet passed away she wrote,
“She changed me at a cellular level. I am better because of her. I live with an ache in my heart that nothing can fix, but I have a fire in my soul that I know is her.”
Before Alice was born, I felt her spirit close to me. I got to know her before she came, and her little life confirmed to me that she was the person I was sensing. Now we are just back to that. I feel her with me often. I cannot hold her or see her anymore, but I know she is there with me. Encouraging me. Mourning with me. Missing me. And most importantly, cheering me on. I want to show her that I feel that support by living in a way that will make her proud to be my daughter.
I want to make each day a message that says, "I love you Alice. You have changed me forever. I promise to make you proud."