It has been ten days since I last wrote.
Not because I didn’t want too, but because I was in a phase of blocking out reality.
This weekend is our sweet girls memorial.
The day that we plant her tree.
The day we plant her garden.
The day we play her song.
Somehow I have been blocking it out because in a sense I feel as though others think it will be final.
Like, I will be over everything that happened to our family.
Like, I will be able to finally get back to life, like it was before.
Life will never be “like” it was before.
We will always have ONE missing and always be missing ONE.
Today we had a nurse come to do our life insurance check-ups and on the form there is a question where it asks about ultra sounds.
She told me “just fill out the form.”
Check yes or no, and we will go over it in detail when you have completed it.
When it came to that question…she said “You said you have, had ultra sounds in the last year but your daughter is over a year, why was that?”
I responded, “Well I was pregnant, we just had a baby in April.”
She proceeds to say…kind of laughing “oh, well where is that baby, is she sleeping?”
“Yes, she is sleeping permanently.”
“She never made it.”
No one knows how to respond.
I don’t blame you.
I don’t blame any of you.
I know all of you reading this, don’t know what to say.
To be honest we don’t know what to say either.
We don’t know how to answer the questions.
We don’t know what to say when people say “I’m sorry for your loss”.
We don’t know what to say when people ask “what happened?”
We don’t know what to say when people ask “when are you having more kids?”
We don’t know what to say when people ask “how many children do you have?”
We especially don’t know what to say when people say “well you’re young, you can have another one.”
This is what I have come to understand.
Oakley is our earth daughter.
Willa is our spirit guide.
We have one earth daughter and one heavenly, beautiful, spirit daughter.
We have two children.
SPEAK HER NAME.
People always seem so terrified to speak her name around me as if they don’t want to remind me of my loss.
I HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN.
WE HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN.
She was ours for 39 weeks and 4 days.
We went for a check-up over 6cm dilated, thinking we were meeting our baby girl, only to find out she wasn’t there.
WE HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN.
Speak her name, because she’s beautiful.
She runs through my dreams every single night.
She runs through our minds through every second, of everyday.
She plays with her sister,
She is WILLA HAIN.
Always one missing and sadly we are always missing one.
A family portrait with our Willa Bird.
If you want to know how to never be in the good books with your wife again.
Tell her you are going out to grab a load of wood.
Get her to the open the gates.
Then when she climbs into the back of the truck because she thinks she’s going directly to the wood pile, take off across the field and take her directly into the bison herd.
She will love it.
Every single ounce of her body will be in instant panic as the bulls creep out of the bush and the new mammas and their calves start grunting.
Sitting in the box of the truck with nothing but a camera and some old beer cans.
I promise you, this is the way to a ladies heart.
Real Life On the Backwoods Ranch.
That is all.
This is us.
This my friends is Backwoods.
Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter, it doesn’t matter the season, the weather or the day of the week, all Oakley wants to do is be outside.
As a family with a whole lot of farm chores and an endless list of things to create, finish and work on, having a child who loves the outdoors is a huge advantage.
Having a child who likes to do the chores and prides herself in helping is just the icing on the cake.
I don’t have words for these photos as each smile, weary look and face of pure determination speaks for itself.
A day in the life of Oakley in her natural habitat.
Have a wonderful day my friends.
The night that I had to deliver our sweet Willa, I had to have massive amounts of blood drawn.
For anyone that knows me on a personal level, knows that I have a phobia of blood on the best of days.
12 vials and a Mickey sized bottle later they thought they finally got enough to test in hopes of finding some answers.
When Willa was born the doctors tried to draw blood from her cord, they couldn’t get anything from it.
Her cord was slightly twisted but not enough that they thought that was the cause of her death.
To this day almost 2 months later, we still don’t have any answers and probably never will.
We were told if anything was found we would have results within 6 weeks.
Still, radio silence.
Maybe it is better not knowing, but for a Mom who hopes and dreams of having a large family I fear that this may and could happen to us again.
As I laid in the hospital bed, my baby gone from my arms, my nurse came in to go over some paperwork.
I remember writing her name, writing it in such a way that I had always dreamt of writing it on her release papers, but instead the top of the paperwork I was filling out read, “death certificate”.
I had to decide if I wanted an autopsy, if I wanted her buried or cremated and where her sweet little body should be sent.
I remember making the choices so vividly.
She would not be tested on like some science experiment, she would be cremated and not stuffed in a box and she would come home to Mayerthorpe for arrangements.
Upon completing the paperwork we were told the hard part was over… for now. We would get a call from the funeral director when sweet Willa was ready to be picked up and it would be within a day or two.
The nurse told me that she would have Willas body at the nurses station if I chose to visit her once more before she was sent to the morgue.
Morgue- a place that is used for the storage of human corpses.
Why she told me this detail? I’ll never know.
I remember crying upon leaving the hospital, with the thought that my sweet baby girl was laying in some cold, dark place beside other dead bodies.
She laid there waiting to be transported to the place where she would be cremated and she would never get to experience us taking her home.
We had to leave our sweet girl laying there as we drove away.
It was final she was gone.
Days went by with absolutely no word from the funeral director as we were told.
Days went by and then weeks went by.
On the Monday of the second week with no contact from anyone, I had to make the call.
A grieving mother who felt disconnected from the world, her family and her live baby, had to call the local funeral home to ask if her cremated child had arrived for pick-up.
The panic in the director (Frans) voice was very apparent as I asked her if Willa had arrived.
Not only had Willa not arrived, she hadn’t even heard of her.
She hadn’t even HEARD of my baby.
She didn’t know where she was and neither did my doctor.
I was told a few calls would be made and that I could count on them to handle it from there.
At this point I had lost all hope in humanity.
I wanted to run to that hospital and knock down every person and door in my way until I found the morgue where my baby laid.
But little did we know, even if I did that, I wouldn’t have found her.
Willa had been transported to a hospital in the city, where corpses are sent for whom no one has made arrangements for.
THAT NO ONE HAS MADE ARRANGEMENTS FOR.
I had made arrangements, I filled out the paperwork, I told them where she was to go and I was reassured that the hospital would handle it from there.
My baby laid in the dark and cold for two fucking weeks waiting for her mama and daddy to make arrangements for HER.
We all know that the medical system can be extremely unorganized and corrupt, but this my friends should never have happened.
A grieving mother should never have to make a phone call to find out where their deceased little love is located.
Our local funeral director handled things from there with such grace.
She showed us dignity, compassion and love for our loss, something that had yet to be shown to us by many individuals in the system thus far.
She did what she said she was going to do and she brought our Willa home to us.
3 weeks after Willa was gone she was finally placed back in my hands.
Back in my hands in a tiny velvet pouch that now sits on top of our dresser within a tiny turquoise box.
Never in my arms alive but always in my heart and dreams, full of life with her little blonde head and her beautiful little toes.
Have compassion my friends.
Life is hard and you never know what kind of battle someone is silently fighting.
There will be justice for all of the grieving families through Willas story and I truly believe she lives and walks beside us all.
I will restore faith in humanity.
This is not final, this is not the end.
ps. we have been getting asked a lot lately about how individuals can make a contribution to Willas garden.
If you would like to do so, monetary donations to the building of her garden can be sent to email@example.com with the password: Willa
the line at which earths surface and the sky appear to meet.
Not everything we share is depressing and not every aspect of our lives is sad.
We try to find the good in every day, just as each day is good.
We have one another, we have our ranch, we have our family and we have community.
Spring hasn’t always been my favourite time of year, but it has been for the last five.
This year, we have lived at Backwoods for five years and we have also been married for five years.
2018 has still been a good year and is going to be a good year, even though it’s filled with a lot of grief, heartache and a lot of sadness.
This year, spring still brings me joy.
Getting to experience ducklings, the sound of my baby splashing in puddles, my chickens free-ranging, the sight of the new-born calves, my seeds sprouting, new foals on the ground, all of it makes this life so worth living.
Yesterday when we woke I told Chad that I had a feeling we had a new foal.
He asked me “why I thought that?” and I told him I just had a weird feeling.
Low and behold, we did.
A perfect little sorrel filly, filled with life, adventure and spirit.
Her mamas name is Taco and her daddy’s’ name is Relative but her name is Horizon.
A new life.
A new spirit.
A new challenge.
And all things looking up.
Earth and the Sky.
To me the earth and the sky now connect each and everyday.
This is our Horizon.
This is us, this is Backwoods.