It Can only Happen Once


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If it didn’t threaten to make me cry, I would probably laugh at the irony in the title of my post.

Below is what my post would have read before I realized that irony…

This has been a particularly rough day. To start, we are entrenched in the dead of a harsh winter that is taking an emotional toll on our already heavy hearts and was getting to me more than usual today. So, after an earlier difficult phone conversation filled with doubts, misunderstanding and tears, and after my toddler threw up the very little amount of food he had eaten {on his fourth day of a stomach virus} by mid-afternoon when he awoke from a nap, I was pretty much ready to call it a day. I didn’t think it could get worse, actually. 

But it turns out, it could.

Mr. B would arrive home early from work {that’s not the bad part}, bringing the mail in from outside. Among the pile of envelopes that were there to be opened sat one from the funeral home where Anysia’s body was taken. In that envelope was the death certificate that we were told would be mailed to us. We had both forgotten about it, actually. It’s been a month since we were there to do all the paperwork surrounding her death and cremation. We haven’t even received the birth certificate we applied for yet. And if we’d forgotten about that arriving at some point, we certainly weren’t sitting around waiting for the death certificate to come.

But waiting or not, today, it did come.

And with it, a lot of emotion. This just isn’t a document you ever expect to receive as a parent… especially not five weeks out from the day your child was born. It had my heart reeling once again.

Like the other difficult parts of my day, there was something good to find in {or along with} the bad.

As for winter, I can be grateful {and am} that it is just a season and will only last for so long. Grateful, as well, that I and my loved ones have not been in any serious accidents or danger due to the harsh conditions the way many have across the nation lately. Another plus… the snow is pretty from our vantage point out the front window.

As for the difficult phone conversation, it was resolved in the end, as were the doubts and misunderstandings, and hearts were gratefully known.

As for Izzy’s illness, though I am worried about him, his spirits are high and his pleasant disposition takes the sting out of his taxing and tiring sickness. And Day 4 of it only means that recovery is right around the corner. Plus, being sick makes him more snuggly… which I love.

And as for the unwanted mail that came, it was accompanied by some good things, too… a couple of condolence cards from friends and a friend’s mom, a surprise package for Izzy from his grandma, and our packet from St. Jude’s Hospital that will get us started on monthly donations… something we are so passionate about doing after going through what we have, because we now know what it is like to be parents of a gravely ill child. We cry each time one of their commercials comes on.

But unlike those other tough parts about our day {which likely will happen again because that’s just how life is… winter comes to us all every year whether we want it to or not, we’ll always have doubts and misunderstand others or be misunderstood, and we all get sick with things we’ve been sick with before}, the worst thing we had to deal with today is just a one-time thing. We won’t face it again, and for that I am grateful.

As hard as it was, it will never happen again. I hated to open that envelope and unfold such a dreadful document. It made me cry and feel awful inside. But at least I will never again have to receive it and open it to find the words CERTIFICATION OF DEATH RECORD with her name there underneath… Anysia Noel Bateman.

It can only happen once.

Well, that was to be my writing tonight, and nothing more. I simply meant to point out that, although it was difficult to receive our daughter’s death certificate, I was grateful that I would only ever have to do so one time.

Herein lies the irony… upon looking closely at the death certificate, we noticed that there is an unacceptable, significant error. In the box {or field} underneath and connected to the heading “AGE AT LAST BIRTHDAY” is the following information… “5 HOURS”.

Anysia lived for six hours. Not five!

The difference of an hour in the life of someone who has lived for many years might not seem like a lot {their information would read in years instead of hours, anyway}, so it might not seem like a terrible error to most. But one hour is everything to me with a daughter who only lived six. It is the difference of all those songs we sang to her in that last hour of her life. It is the difference of each and every kiss I gave her in that last hour. The difference of the one sixth of her life in which I was able to hold her non-stop because most of our visitors had left by then and we were able to have her to ourselves. The difference of the very last words I ever spoke to her. That last hour was everything to me. Her age at the time of death is everything. We could have had no time. But we had time, and every minute of every hour was a gift from God that we so desperately prayed for, and for some reason He chose to grant it. So it is rather important to me that it be right on the death certificate… that it should state “6 HOURS”… not five.

Which is why, now, I can not even say as I originally thought, it can only happen once. Because I will get that information corrected… it’s that important to me. Thus I will get the death certificate in the mail again. I will once again receive it and open it, and probably once again cry, too.  And what I thought I’d only ever have to go through one time will happen yet another.

{new title}

It should only happen once.