We left the hospital with a box.
It wasn’t supposed to be that way. We were supposed to leave with a baby–a living, breathing, adorable baby. A baby to take home and love and raise. One that we would watch grow up into a toddler and a child and a teenager.
But we left with a box.
A box filled with beautiful keepsakes that I didn’t ask for. They were not what we wanted and still, they were all we had left. I resented that box. I wanted nothing to do with that box.
That box felt all wrong in my hands, but still I couldn’t put it down.
It was all that was left of the life we lost. It was all we had left of our baby who died. There was nothing in that box that I wanted but it represented all I had ever dreamed of.
So, we left with a box.
Not a baby. Not our child. But with a box.
No one smiles at you when you leave the hospital carrying a box.
No one really looks at you or offers to hold the door. Or maybe they do, but you can’t be sure. It’s hard to look at anyone when your arms feel so empty and life feels so uncertain.
I didn’t want that box. No one will ever want that box.
I wanted my baby. I wanted to leave the hospital with her. I wanted to place her carefully in the car. I wanted to carry her across the threshold of our new life together. I wanted to put her to bed every night and wake up to her every morning. All I wanted was for us to go home together.
But I came home with a box instead of a baby.
A box that I hated and loved all at once. I hate what it stands for and I love that it belongs to her. I hate that it exists and I love that it reminds me I’m not alone in my heartbreak.
It’s a box I never wanted and one that I will carry with me forever.
So to the people who say they can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a child, I say this: Think about what it was like to bring home your baby and imagine what it would feel like to bring home a box instead.
Thank you to the countless organizations and individuals who make these memory boxes possible. While nothing could begin to replace the child we’ve lost, these boxes are an incredible gift for those who must leave the hospital empty-handed.
If you are part of an organization that creates memory boxes or you know of an organization that does, please share in the comments below.