I’ll admit it ~ I am a court TV junkie. I have watched the David Westerfield case, mostly because it happened in San Diego while I lived there. While pregnant with Jeremy, I watched the Anna Nicole Smith hearings about who would make decisions regarding her burial and paternity testing of her daughter. Recently, I have been watching the Casey Anthony trial. I remember watching all of the news coverage on it and just being heartbroken when they found her remains. It was horrific and I still get sad when I think of all of the potential that little girl had in front of her before having her life taking from her.
Today in particular, things struck a huge cord with me. Casey’s father, George Anthony was being grilled about an attempted suicide attempt. I listened to comments from commentators and others who thought that was fake. I know for a fact it was not fake. I have been there myself. I have lost my purpose in life and considered taking my own life and wanting to be with my daughter.
For me, it happened in February 2010. My husband was on his 2nd deployment since losing Savannah. I was alone and it was Valentine’s Day. It had nothing to do with Valentine’s Day, but it was exactly 9 months earlier that was May 14th, my due date with Savannah, who was still very much alive within me. If only I had said something or done something differently. Everyone has agreed that if I had delivered her one week or even one day sooner, Savannah would be here today. I felt enormous pain and guilt that as a Mom, I had somehow failed my daughter. I felt alone and isolated. I didn’t know anyone who had been through the loss of a child. I reached out to everyone in my family. It was the darkest time of my life. I remember thinking that my husband would find someone else and Jeremy would have a new Mom, one who could be happy and play with him. I felt that I had nothing left to give. I wished more than anything that I could go back to that day and take Savannah’s place. Why her? Why now? I had lived a good life, gone to college, had fun, got married, and had a baby already. Savannah got none of that. Why couldn't it have been me?
Back to George Anthony ~ he was a grieving grandfather. When you lose a child, whether it is yours or a grandchild in such a manner that is unnatural, people react differently. But I can tell you that he saw the same potential and future for his granddaughter that I had for Savannah. It’s true that he had almost 3 years with Caylee that I never got with Savannah, but the pain is the same. To know that another human is responsible for your child’s death is unbearable and unless you have experienced it personally, there is no way to understand it.
I admire how George Anthony and his wife reached out to others and have continued to advocate for missing children. They kept the memory of their granddaughter alive by turning their own personal tragedy into something positive. This is also what I have tried to do with Savannah’s story. I tell people about the risks and concerns with military hospitals. I talk about what I did and what I should have done differently. I tell people about all of the advantages of delivering at a Catholic hospital (they will always do everything possible to save your baby no matter what the circumstances and are ethically bound to do so). I will continue to use Savannah’s story when invited to speak to teach nurses, doctors, chaplains, and other healthcare workers what to do and what not to do when a baby does die. The only way that I was able to pull through my darkest days was to find my purpose again. My purpose is completely different from before May 17, 2009. Before that day, my purpose was to be the best mom, wife, friend, sister, and person I could possibly be. May 18th and beyond, my purpose became much clearer ~ I still strive to do all of those things, but I am also an activist for Stillbirth Awareness and talking about the failures in military healthcare. I have joined forces with other groups and organizations to bring awareness to these issues and to educate others on things you can do to be proactive in the future.
Sometimes, it takes those darkest days when we feel we have lost our purpose in life to really find out who we are, who matters, who stands beside us, and who supports us unconditionally. My daughter’s life taught our family so much about support, love, and the bonds that only blood can bring. She is an amazing example of how one person can make a difference ~ and it’s not me. It’s all Savannah. She just uses me as her voice.
I hope that people realize that passing judgment on what is or isn’t appropriate methods of grief is hurtful and unnecessary. At the same time, I realize that unless you have walked in my shoes, there is no way you could ever see things from the same perspective. Do you know what it's like to leave a hospital with a carseat in the backseat of your car, a suitcase full of newborn clothes, dresses, and hairbows and come home to a beautifully decorated nursery with no baby? None of us know how anyone else feels, but it’s important to remember that when someone reaches out for help, that we be understanding and show compassion and empathy. You will never know the weight of the cross that each one of us carries on the inside.
Until next time,