I thought that on April 21st, 2014, delivering my lifeless daughter, would be the hardest thing I would ever experience. It was definitely the top most difficult thing I’ve experienced. But atleast I got to feel a sense of pride looking at her beauty, I got a couple smiles and laughs through my tears, at her little quirky details, like daddy’s crooked toes, her chunky thighs, mommy’s long brown hair. I got to admire her. I cried, I smiled, I yelled, I giggled, I cried some more. We experienced pain, but at the same time we also felt pride and love. Yet I was wrong. No matter how difficult it was to hold my lifeless daughter, I still got to hold her in my arms and stare at her. I got to kiss on her and tell her how much I loved her. That’s more than many people can ever do. Each day after that was even harder, because I couldn’t hold her and love on her. What was even more difficult, was saying goodbye. Not to her spirit, but to her precious, perfectly created little body.
April 26th, 2014, we saw our daughter for the very last time. In a casket.
The previous days were emotional, painful mentally and physically, and busy. During our stay in the hospital, before she was even born, Oliver and I had to discuss Scarlett’s funeral arrangements. Oliver was sitting to the right of me with his arm around me, and said, “I have an idea. Let’s not bury her. Let’s get her cremated and spread her ashes where we were married.” Oliver and I got married on a beautiful beach in Fort Walton, Florida, near Destin. The sands were white and the water was a beautiful blue. It was our special place, and Oliver wanted to make it even more special. I thought on it a minute and said, “I think that’s a beautiful idea.” Then hugged him. I thought of it as not putting her in the dirt. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with burying your child. We would’ve done it if Oliver didn’t think up such a special and unique idea. We just wanted her to be in the wind, in the ocean. We didn’t want her in one place. We wanted to say our last goodbye, or see you later, at a place special to us both. After awhile a thought suddenly crossed my mind, a dream I had when I was a few months pregnant, before we knew the gender of our growing baby…
It was our wedding day. We were on the beach we got married on, and the ceremony had just ended. I was standing with my mom, my grandmother and my great-grandmother. My friend Cayla, who also photographed our wedding, and thanks to my best friend Sarah, also photographed after Scarlett’s birth. She was there and taking a picture of the three of us. 3 generations of women in our family. The thing was, my great-grandmother who we called MiMi, passed away when I was 18.
Her and I were extremely close. She had a special bond with each of her granddaughters, and her great-grandchildren. MiMi and I always had deep conversations. She was always teaching me a life lesson or making me laugh. Her stories were, still til this day, the most entertaining I’d ever heard. She was a diabetic, but had a secret candy stash she only told me about. So anytime I went into her room she’d tell me to take a handful, but would tell me not to tell the others. I’m not gonna lie, she could be a sassy bitch. And she knew it! Not to mention she cursed like a sailor. You did not want to be on her bad side. She was sarcastic, yet strict. She hated when the boys would walk around the house without their shirts on. I remember one time my cousin John was about 13 years old, he was talking back to her, but she was very slow and walked with a cane so she couldn’t get to him quick enough to fuss at him. So later that day, he was sat on the couch watching tv, when she snuck up behind him, grabbed him by the ear, pulled and whacked him on the head with her cane. It was hilarious. I still laugh about it. Regardless of her strict or bitchy ways, she had a heart of gold. I miss her and her sassy self everyday. I would’ve given anything for her to see me walk down the aisle and marry a man I know she would have absolutely adored.
So in my dream, I knew my MiMi was deceased, but she was visiting from Heaven for the day so she could be at my wedding. After we took the picture, she said, “Let’s go sit over there.” I looked to where she was pointing, and there were two chairs in the sand, right in front of where the waves were crashing up. I remember it being a little cloudy, yet not very windy. We walked up to the chairs and sat down. I remember her not needing a cane or walker to walk. I sat down and she began to tell me how proud of me she was, how much she loved me and missed me. But she was so very proud. She then said, “I want you to give Joel a message for me.” Joel is my younger brother. Suddenly she’s writing on a paper, that’s placed on a little table that I don’t remember being there before. The message simply said, “I love you soooo much.” And she drew a little character on the paper. I know it sounds silly but it looked like Mickey Mouse or something. I’m still not sure. She then said, “It’s time for me to go.” I began crying and said, “I’m not ready for you to go back yet.” I hugged her and vividly remember the strong smell of her perfume. She was always doused in strong smelling perfumes. With tears rolling down my face, she kissed me on the cheek, and I could feel the thickness and stickiness of her lipstick on my face. She said goodbye, and I woke up. I didn’t wake up silently, I woke up full on crying and sobbing. It even woke Oliver up. He freaked out and asked what was wrong, I told him I had a dream about my MiMi and how much I missed her. I later called my brother and mom to tell them about the dream. I just felt the need to.
The next day, because of my vivid dream, I decided that if our baby ended up being a girl, I would want her middle name to be “Lee”, after my MiMi’s middle name. And what do you know, not long after, we found out we were having a girl, and named her Scarlett Lee Quinn.
The dream suddenly made sense. I turned to Oliver and began telling him about the dream. I said, “What if that was MiMi’s way of saying that Scarlett was with her now. Maybe she knew all along Scarlett would end up in Heaven, and that we would decide to spread her ashes not only where we were married, but in the very spot I dreamed of her visiting me from Heaven.” I never once dreamed about my great-grandmother. I thought about her non-stop when she passed away, but over the last few years, she hasn’t been on my mind nearly as much. I hadn’t thought about her in a very long time, then I randomly dream of her in a special place, in a very vivid dream. I could never see that as a coincidence. I’ve only had a dream like that once. I was 16 years old, going through a very rough patch in life. I was going through depression and felt overwhelmed with all that was going in in my life at the time. When one night I dreamed that my grandfather, who passed away when I was only 2 1/2 years old, visited me randomly from Heaven in a dream. Again sounds silly, but we rode through a city on a motorcycle with smiles on our faces. He told me he came to visit me to let me know he’s always with me and everything would be okay. It just seemed to suddenly click. Scarlett is with MiMi, and other loved ones. She’s being loved on and pampered. That brought major warmth to my heart. When before you know it I was emotionally spiraling downward again.
A few days after being home from the hospital, still in pain and barely able to walk on my own, slowly healing, we decided to go out and pick an outfit for her to wear for the service. We both discussed what we wanted her to wear. I wanted a white long sleeve dress, to hide her skin tears, with lace on it, something elegant and angelic. Oliver simply wanted to find a dress that had a matching beanie cap. In the hospital she temporarily wore a bonnet my grandmother made, but it just looked too morbid. Her little head was a bit misshapen from being in the birth canal for so long, so he wanted to cover it. I agreed. We went to a few stores and found absolutely nothing close to what we wanted. We were so disappointed. At the second to last store, we put an outfit together we weren’t really in love with, and said that if the last store we went to didn’t have anything, we would come back and settle with this one. It was a cute little dress, but we would’ve had to have put a long sleeve onesie under it to cover her arms, and get a beanie cap that didn’t come with the dress. So we went to the last store on the list, that Scarlett’s nanny Sarah told me about. We walked in and were greeted by a young brunette. She asked if she could help us, I said no thank you. Then I realized I was just ready to get in and get out, it had been a long day and we were emotionally exhausted. So I said, “Actually yes, where are your little girl dresses?” She said, “How old?” I told her “Newborn.” So we followed her to the newborn dresses. She stood next to them and started saying, “So what kind are you looking for? Something froofy, something spring…” My eyes started to burn from the tears coming on, “Actually something elegant and beautiful, it’s for our daughter that just passed away.” She froze. You could see the hurt on her face. “I’m so sorry.” I told her it was okay, and explained what we were looking for. She started pulling a few dresses off the rack, but none of them really were exactly what we wanted. She said she would be right back and walked away. I started looking through dresses, then came to a stop. I pulled off a very long, beautiful, longsleeve white dress. It had lace across the chest, with small elegant pink flowers on it. Attached to it was a perfectly matching beanie cap, white, also with a couple of small pink flowers. It was more perfect than I could’ve ever imagined. I looked at Oliver and said, “This is the dress.” With a half smile and hurt in his eyes, he said, “Yeah, that’s the one.” I looked at the price tag. “Wow, this dress is almost $80.” I looked at him. He said, “It’s okay, it’s worth it.” I put my arm around him and we walked to the register. I was emotional ofcourse. And being out in public was very hard for me. At the counter there were two young ladies standing there. They were smiling, but quiet, and looked anxious. I was looking around the store to avoid eye contact with them. I didn’t want to start crying. I heard one say, “Is there anything else we can do for you today?” Oliver told her no. As I’m looking around, I zoned out and wasn’t 100% into the conversation. I turned back and she’s just standing there looking at us. I asked Oliver if he paid her, and he just stood there and said, “She said we can have the dress…” I looked at her and said, “What?” I thought to myself, the woman who was helping us must have told her about Scarlett. I broke down crying, and kept saying, “Thank you, thank you so much.” They smiled and said not to worry about it. I was absolutely blown away. Such an expensive dress and they just gave it to us. Our perfect dress we searched for at that. I was amazed. I later was told that the owner of that boutique is known to do things like that. That act of kindness will never be forgotten.
Saturday came around and I was absolutely terrified. I was so close to not being able to go. To see your baby in a casket, no one should ever experience that. Oliver and I got to the funeral home early. When we walked into the room, my heart dropped. We walked up to the casket, and all I could do was stare at her and cry. Our baby girl looked perfect in her new outfit. Her Nanny Sarah and Parrain Jacques bought her a pearl necklace, and it went perfectly with her dress. I’d never seen a casket so small before. It just wasn’t right that caskets so small had to be made. We admired her, and spoke to her. Finally I walked away, I knew we needed to start organizing her pictures, knick knacks, plants and flowers. When it was all finished and made up, it was absolutely beautiful. So many kind people bought her loads of beautiful flowers and plants. There was nearly no room for them all. Her pictures from the hospital were on the tables, next to her framed hand and foot prints. Sarah and Jacques got an unbelievable amount of pink balloons. They all sat behind her casket, tied together, filling up the entire corner and ceiling behind her. The entire set up was just perfect and beautiful. We stood near her casket, as everyone lined up to speak to us and see her. The majority of everyone there wore pink for Scarlett. My heart swelled. Every person I saw, I hugged and thanked for being there. There were even people there that Oliver and I had never met before. Friends travelled from other states to be there. Our hearts were filled with so much love from everyone’s presence. We finally sat down and the service began. It was beautiful, but I couldn’t help but hurt. It didn’t feel real. All of this for our daughter. Who should be in our arms, not that casket. Oliver’s dad said a few words. It was perfect, and touching. I know it took a lot of bravery to go up there at your granddaughter’s funeral, and speak in front of a room full of people. I was told that it was so full, it was standing room only. After the service was over, we remained sitting on the seat in front of her, as everyone said their goodbyes to Scarlett, grabbed balloons and walked outside. When I saw everyone saying goodbye, it hit me so hard. I was crying uncontrollably, I remember saying it wasn’t fair. I was so angry and hurt. Why us? Why our baby girl? All of my emotions started flooding. Arms would wrap around me. So much love and support. Eventually I pulled myself together, got up, and told Scarlett’s precious little body goodbye. We stared at her for the very last time, turned and walked out the door with some of her pink balloons. When I stepped outside it was bright. Everyone was standing all around the parking lot, holding the two shades of pink balloons. The pastor said a prayer, and as the balloon release music played, everyone let go of their balloons. It was a beautiful sight. I wonder what this view looks like from Heaven.
Two days later we left for Florida. The whole week we were there, the weather was horrible. It even flooded in some areas. None of the days would’ve been good to release her ashes. Until our last day there. We got up around 5 am, to pack everything up, and make it to our special spot before sunrise. To our surprise, the weather was perfect that day. When the sun came up, we sat and enjoyed the view for awhile. We then walked almost knee high into the cold water, and spoke to Scarlett. We told her how much we loved her, and how this was only a temporary goodbye. I brought some of her flowers from her service, and threw them into the ocean. We watched them float away, and right after, Oliver threw her ashes into the wind. Later that day, we went to a tattoo shop, and got matching tattoos for our angel. To my surprise, it was actually Oliver’s idea, who’s never been a tattoo enthusiast. We were given a little bit of grief over getting them. It bothered me for awhile, but now all I have to say to that, is that it was totally worth it. I could be 90 and wrinkled, and I will proudly wear my daughter’s name on my skin. That’s the beauty in not caring what people think of you. I’ve gotten stares, good and bad. Yet I always smile. Because to me tattoos are a form of art and expression. For me, if I’m putting something permanently on my skin, it’s for me, no one else. I wear my tattoos with pride, because they are something to be proud of. They are a part of me, and my experiences in life. I look forward to the day I can tell my grandchildren about those experiences, when they ask about my tattoos. Scarlett’s name was not my first tattoo, and certainly won’t be my last. They are my stories. And I’m proud to show them and share them with others. They aren’t everyone’s “thing”, and that’s totally okay. Everyone is into different things. We all have different interest, likes and dislikes.
Until this day, this all feels like a dream at times. It hits me randomly, and I just can’t quite wrap my mind around the fact that my once lively, healthy, little girl that grew inside of my womb, was gone. For a long time after losing her, I stayed closed off to people. At times I still do. Sometimes I just want to keep to myself and be alone. But never had I felt more alone than I did on May 11th, 2014. Mother’s Day. Only 3 weeks after we lost Scarlett. The following experience, I’ve only ever told two people. I feel like by sharing, maybe it will help someone else. Maybe it will open up their eyes, or help them not feel so alone. It always made me feel ashamed, embarrassed and guilty. But no more. There’s something deep within me that feels the need to share this with whoever chooses to read it. Because out of this horrible experience, there was hope. Even in the darkest moment of my life, hope prevailed.
It was the morning of Mother’s Day. I was in Scarlett’s room, sitting in my rocking chair, crying. How am I supposed to get through this day? This is my first Mother’s Day, and my daughter is gone. The last 3 weeks had been hell. My appetite was non-existent. I didn’t eat because I was never hungry. My mouth never watered, my stomach didn’t growl. Oliver would make me food and I had to force myself to take a few bites. I’ve always loved food and never had a problem eating. But I just didn’t feel the need to. I was going through a bottle of wine a day. That’s what filled up my stomach the majority of the time. I found that it helped relax me. So for a couple of months, I just drank wine, and nibbled on food. That day we were going to Oliver’s parents home to eat boiled crawfish. I didn’t even want that. I just wanted to stay home, ball up and sleep. The previous days were already heart wrenching and difficult, but this day was especially hard. And it got worse. My dad, who I hadn’t seen or spoken to, since a few weeks prior, called. At this point, the last time I saw my dad was at the hospital. He did not come to Scarlett’s funeral, and he never once called to check on me to see how I was doing or if I needed anything. Until that Mother’s Day. He called as if none of that ever happened. He asked how I was and what I was doing. I bluntly told him I was in Scarlett’s room, crying because I missed her and it’s been a hard day. Out of hurt and anger, I asked him why he didn’t go to his grand daughters service, and why he never called me. This resulted in a lot of excuses, and an argument. I told him how I felt, and I guess the guilt ate him up, because he eventually hung up on me. I didn’t see him until Christmas Eve that year, and even then we got into an argument. I haven’t seen or talked to him since then. It’s a complicated situation. Don’t get me wrong, I love my father so much, and he loves my brother and I very much. Like I said, it’s a very complicated situation that I won’t get into.
That phone call pretty much pushed me over the edge. Not only was it Mother’s Day, not only was I hurting like hell, but I got into a very painful argument with my father, who hung up on me. I was even more of an emotional wreck than before. I found myself sitting on the floor of my daughter’s bedroom, head down, crying into my knees. I was in so much pain, and even more heart broken. Just when I thought that wasn’t possible. In that moment I felt so alone, so angry, so bitter, so sad, so very lost. I just wanted the pain to go away. I’d been hurting for what felt like forever, and today felt like the last day I could take. My emotions were on overload, and I couldn’t take the pain anymore. I just wanted it to go away. I didn’t care about anything but getting rid of that heartache. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and the tears wouldn’t stop. I was sobbing uncontrollably, and shaking. I walked into my bedroom, grabbed the nearly full bottle of Ambien that I was prescribed at the time to help me sleep at night, and walked back into Scarlett’s bedroom. I closed the door, stood in front of her dresser, and looked at the bottle. I just kept thinking to myself over and over again, “I can’t take the pain anymore, it’s too much. God will understand. I just can’t live like this anymore.” I suddenly felt numb. I wanted to end my life. I wanted to end this suffering. Tears silently ran down my face, and in that very moment, I made the decision that I would take every pill in the bottle. I took one, swallowed, and said I was sorry. I dumped the rest into my hand, and before I could start popping them into my mouth, I heard something that forever changed my life. I heard a little girls sweet voice say, “I love you Mommy. It’s not worth it.” I stopped what I was doing and froze. I felt like I was going crazy. Did I really just hear that? I ran those words through my mind over and over. I chose to dump the pills back into the bottle. And began crying again. Was that Scarlett’s voice? She’s just a baby, could that really have been her? It wasn’t a voice like you would hear someone talking, it was a voice in my mind, and the feeling I got when I heard it was unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. I can’t even begin to explain how it felt. For those last couple of weeks, I seriously questioned the existence of God. Even after reviewing the dream I had about my MiMi. Yet in that moment, I knew there was something more, and I knew our daughter was with us. For awhile I went back and forth over what I heard and felt. There’s no other explanation in my heart and mind other than my daughter, my angel, stopped me from taking my own life. I’m not going to sit here to try and convince anyone what I experienced that day. I know what happened to me, and that’s all that matters. I’m here today, to share my story, and Scarlett’s, because she saved me. I realize now how selfish of an action that would’ve been, the pain that it would’ve caused, the heartache and hurt. At the time though, I didn’t care. I was so deep into my depression and pain, I just didn’t want to hurt anymore. If you are reading this, and you have been through something tragic or heartbreaking, I promise, it will get better in time. The pain will always remain, your heart will always ache, but if you choose to live your life in a way to make your angels proud, you will have a purpose. I know we will see our daughter again. She is what keeps me going. It’s not easy. There are still nights I cry myself to sleep, there are still days I want to be alone and stay in bed. My heart still aches, I still feel bitter at times. But I’m always able to get myself up, and live in a way that I know would make her proud of her mommy. I WILL see my baby girl again. She always shows herself through her signs, and it keeps me going. She’s changed my life in so many ways. I love that little girl more than I ever thought I could possibly love someone. I’ve come to realize that I hurt so much, because of how much I love her, and that’s okay.
Somewhere over the rainbow, is where my child plays,
Sitting in The Lord’s lap, each beautiful day,
I imagine her wings, so precious and small,
Her eyes so bright, the prettiest you ever saw,
Little brown locks, pouty lips and rosy cheeks,
Waiting patiently, years, months or weeks,
Too see her Mommy and Daddy, at Heavens gate,
No matter how long, it’ll be worth the wait,
To hold our baby again, and kiss her pretty face,
I wonder if she’ll wear a white robe, or be pretty in lace,
I look forward to the day, I can tell my sweet Scarlett,
I’ve missed you every day, and never could I forget,
The impact on my life you made,
The love that could never fade,
This is just the beginning of our life together,
In my arms you’ll remain forever.