Details That “Don’t Matter”


I’m not sure what I came here to write. The last few weeks have been hard. I sort of feel numb. Self-emposed numbness. The holidays are here and they aren’t. There are moments that I feel loved through them. I hung ornaments on the tree in their remembrance this year. Some days I look at them and smile, thankful that they are here in the center of our home. Some days I look at them and get angry – look at my dead baby tree. I wrap gifts for family members and some days I’m thankful for opportunities to share their memory with those whom I know truly understand what they mean. Some days I look at the packages and get angry – who wants a bunch of dead baby gifts anyway? My head shifts back and forth, back and forth as with so many things on this journey.

I didn’t do enough. I couldn’t have done anything more. Nobody understands this. Why do so many others have to understand this? Did their lives even matter? Their lives have changed my life forever. I wish I had never lived this. If one person’s life was changed for the good I’ll bear this. Pick a moment of the day and I’ve likely lived both realities on nearly every path of thought that exists.

After months of avoiding the paperwork and phone calls I  finally went to the court house to file for birth and death certificates. I stood at a cold stone counter as an equally stone cold clerk processed the paperwork. I stuffed the tears and felt them running down my throat as he slid six papers in front of me.

Their names – each typed across the top of the page – a piece of paper that I’ve been waiting to hold for so long shouting their existence – followed by a piece of paper no parent should ever hold – a death certificate. I scanned each page trying to clear my mind and focus on the details. Sure enough the details were wrong.

The spelling of Nate’s birth city was wrong on every page. The death date of one of my daughter’s was wrong. I asked to have it changed and was faced with a confused expression from the clerk. “Didn’t you get the paperwork to verify these details?” – no. It would cost us $240 to correct the records. He responded telling me that it didn’t matter anyway. Maybe it doesn’t matter to you sir – but it matters to me.

In the mean time a second clerk was digging through the old microfiche files and found the birth and death certificates of another child; my grandma’s twin sister who was stillborn. There was the grainy black and white copy with the details of her birth and burial. A little life so easily forgotten. I will not let her be forgotten. This clerk had kind eyes and gave her personal condolences. She spoke with a soft voice and offered phone numbers and names for the mortuary so I could clear up the mistakes. She acknowledged my loss. They mattered in her eyes.

I left the office with a mix of emotions. I found her! Proof of this little life. At the same time anger fueled by mistakes that never should have happened and words that cut deep.

It’s been a week and today I dug into those details. Phone call after phone call with people not wanting to claim responsibility for the mistakes. No apologies given. No answers. I wait to hear how they plan to resolve this. I wait for someone to acknowledge the details of their short lives mattered. Yes it does matter to me that she died on 2-3-12 and not 2-4-12 like her brother and sister!

I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m frustrated. I’m avoiding the reality of what the papers I hold in my hand really mean – that they’re gone forever – and at times denying the fact that they ever existed. Maybe it was just a bad dream.


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