Dad and I finally went to pick up your ashes today. They have been ready for us to come and take home since May 14th, but I just didn't want to do it. I feel like a horrible person. What kind of mother leaves her daughter's remains at the mortuary for six weeks? I'm sorry I didn't go get them sooner, but I know it's not like I left you there for six weeks. You were not sitting on the shelf in that plain front office all that time, waiting to be picked up. You left this earth the day your little heart stopped beating. It's the same way I felt in the hospital. One of the nurses asked me if I wanted to keep your body in the room with us. I found that so strange and said, "no, take it out of here. That's not Stevie. Stevie's gone."
I'm sure I'm in the minority here, and I don't want to offend anyone, but I'll just go ahead and say it: your ashes don't mean that much to me. As I was handed the little white plastic box that held your remains, I expected to feel some sort of connection to you. But I didn't. I opened the lid and examined the quarter-cup or so of ashes inside the zip-lock baggie. Nothing. I sat with your ashes on my lap in the car and thought about how weird it was that they were once contained inside my body, in a different form of course. Still nothing. We stopped by Target on the way home and I just left that little white box sitting on my seat in the car. We got home and I said, "so what are we supposed to do with these?" and put that little white box on the bookshelf in the living room.
I don't like seeing that little white box. I find no comfort in it. I have no desire to have it near me. It is just a sad and somewhat creepy reminder to me that your perfect little body was burned to ashes. I'm still not sure what we'll do with those ashes. Probably scatter them somewhere, mainly because I really don't want them in our house.
Today was the second and probably last time I will ever get to sign my name as your mother. On the cremation receipt, on the "relationship to deceased" line, I got to write the word "mother." The first time I got to write that word was when I authorized the hospital to perform your autopsy. It's just not right. I should be filling out forms at your first pediatrician visit and signing field trip permission slips for you someday, not signing over your dead body to the morgue and picking up your remains. No one should ever have to write the word "mother" next to "relationship to deceased." Ever.
I was looking at your cremation certificate, and the place where your age is listed really struck me. "Age: 0," it said. I guess I have never seen an age written out as just "zero" before. Why couldn't it say, "age: 25 weeks, 5 days," or "age: 6.5 months gestation." Zero implies that you never lived at all. That you never existed. And we both know that's just not true.
I may not find comfort in your ashes, but I find it knowing you are not in that little white box. You are running free, playing and skipping and jumping and dancing. And you are in my heart forever.
I love you so much, Baby girl.
Always and forever,
2 hours ago