I started my morning with a quick call to my mom. I like to call her a lot even if I have nothing to say. Just one of those voices I like to hear often. We were talking about this blog and she mentioned how my grandma had a sister that passed away at birth. She didn’t know much but remembered hearing that she had clubfoot.
I kept thinking about this throughout the morning. Why hasn’t anyone researched this? Why haven’t I since I vaguely remember my mom saying that once before when I was younger? What if by some crazy chance she had Arthrogryposis too? What if she did and it was hereditary in my family? Would I ever take the risk and have another child?
After wrapping up my work for the day, I made a series of phone calls and found myself at government building holding a book. This was the oldest and most magical book I had ever held. The pages were delicate and yellowed with age. I think the edges were trimmed gold or maybe that was my mind running wild. The book was in impeccable condition, which reinforced that it was highly protected. I was holding a collection of stories. Names of people who were loved and the basic details on where their journey started and stopped. I could have spent a week with this book but I only had a few minutes and our time together was supervised.
I looked at the page belonging to my great aunt. Her name was Agnes and she died on an early spring evening after 2 months and 8 days of life. She was born with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (and maybe clubfoot but additional symptoms and details were not included). It was so weird to see. She was my family. No one ever talked about her. If she had lived she might loved my Clubfoot Stinks post and totally related. I was staring at the dates of her short life, where she was buried, name of the man who buried her. Details no one ever knew…
I got in my car and thought about my great grandma. My heart pounded for the sorrow she must have endured. It’s not the same but I miscarried our first baby in 2008 and soon after watched my cousin’s wife lose twin girls at 23 weeks. Standing there in the hospital saying goodbye to the sweet little girls we desperately wanted to love and watch grow was horrific. I don’t even have words to describe losing a baby, no matter what stage in life it happens. Gut-wrenching. Hollow. Unfair. Life changing.
My great grandma went on to have three more daughters, one who ended up being my grandma. I’m sure time and the distractions of six kids softened the hurt of losing baby Agnes. However, I’m sure she never forgot those two signature days, when she was born and when she passed away. A mom doesn’t forget. In the deep dark parts of her heart I bet she wondered throughout the years what she would be doing or how life would be like with her around.
My great grandma has been gone for a long time. I am not sure if I ever even met her. I would love to ask her a million questions about life, how things were back then giving birth to a child with a disability and what it was like to say goodbye. Someday, we’ll chat over tea in heaven.
For now I’m feeling pretty grateful, I had the amazing gift of a unraveling a few precious details on the short life of baby Agnes.
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