What I Know About Izzy
Sixteen days have passed since she was born. Twenty one since we learned that she was no longer alive. Today is the first time that I opened up the mailbox to see only bills peering back at me. No cards. No gifts. The gas bill is late.
My oldest told me that she misses her. I believe she means it in the sense that she both misses seeing her, which she got to do for a short time when saying goodbye, but also that she misses the idea of her. I find it intriguing, the way sadness can feel so different for each individual. I don’t miss her in the same way my daughter does. I think of words like aching and empty. Incomplete and devoid. Imposter and defunct. Her words for her feelings are that she misses Izzy and she means it with all of her heart and mind.
My dad told me that it brings him comfort that she looked so peaceful when she was born. I was simultaneously consoled by this and distraught. I wish that was the first thought I had when I saw her, but instead I believed she looked a little bit like a fish. Maybe it was that I only caught a glimpse before she was whisked away. Maybe it was a level of shock and panic that comes from accidentally having a baby when you didn’t know you were that far into labor. Maybe it was that my only food aversion for four months had been seafood and I felt equally repulsed by what was happening to my body as I did thinking about anything with scales. The fish image changed, later, when I got to hold her closer, and see the little details that were starting to make her Izzy. Her tiny tongue. Curled fingers. The slope of her nose. She was beautiful, in an entirely non-fishlike way, and possibly even peaceful if my dad believed it to be true.
I don’t think of missing her, or what she looked like, in the same ways that they do. Mostly, I think about what I would do if I could have her for just one day. I no longer dream about a lifetime. I’ve slowly grieved every milestone that we’ll never make. But I do think what if we had just one day.
Even for one day I would need to know more information about my own baby than I was ever able to gather in four months of pregnancy and a few hours spent together post delivery. I don’t know what her cry sounded like, or what her favorite solid food would be. I feel like I’m swimming in a sea of unknowns, and it makes me wonder how I can grieve this much with so many details missing.
But I know how much I loved her. I know how desperately I wanted to protect her, even after finding out that she was gone. I know that my husband became a father in the most devastating fashion, and yet he was the best dad I ever could have imagined for Izzy. I know that her sisters will always mourn her. They won’t always want to name their stuffed animals after her, or hang pictures of her in the house, but they will always think about the little sister they never got to play with. I know that Izzy had a community, near and far, that kept our mailbox full, our house clean, our fridge stocked, and our hearts cared for so we could just think about Izzy. I know how I’ve changed. Some of it is ugly. I’ve lost that belief that everything will be OK. But some of it borders on beautiful. I understand grief on a whole new level, and I think I could help someone else who was experiencing it with clarity and patience that I didn’t have before. I know I would at least try. I would do it for Izzy. All of that is Izzy. Who she was, and the response she elicited, and the things I will do in her memory.
Mostly, what I know, is that she mattered. Her life mattered in the simplest, yet most profound sense of meaning– she shaped the lives of those around her, and none of us will ever quite be the same.
It doesn’t feel like much to know about your own child, but it feels significant enough to keep holding onto, and sharing, the little bits of her that I discover.