Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day - Life and Death

Who am I kidding, while I’ve talked about other things and claimed this to be a general blog, this has always been more about Aurelia than anything else. And specifically about me and my dealing with her life and death. And thus I'm here, not trying to fill in a missing year, or even reflect on any greater aspect of life, but just to reflect on where I am in my relationship with her and her life and death.

At first when I reflected on her, I really only saw the death. And I was angry.

I still see the death at times, and don’t get me wrong, I’m still angry, I expect I will always be, but I realized this morning that I’m seeing her life now more often than I’m seeing her death.

I’m seeing that she impacted people. From her name to her loss, she has changed the course of the world. Not in the great ways that we write epics about or that fill our history books, but in the simple ways that flow into the exquisite banalities of everyday life. From extra hugs given to children, to moment of frustration able to be delayed just a couple minutes more, she has impacted people. And the gift of her milk benefited babies whom I will never know, but whose lives may have been saved from NEC through the donation of “her milk”. The gift of my being able to connect to another mother experiencing this all too frequent happening. Trajan will never take the birth of a child as a certainty, and while I mourned for this a bit when I realized it, this also is a gift from Aurelia’s existence.

I received a number of texts and messages this morning from people who remembered that today is her day and hers alone. The day of their birth will always be both of theirs as the day of his NICU discharge will always be his. And for some reason one touched me differently and I realized that I had tears in my eyes, but they were not of sorrow, they were of joy. Joy that we are not the only ones who remember her.

The greatest gift I can be offered in Aurelia’s honor is not forgetting her.

I think part of seeing her life more means that when I woke up today, while I was acutely aware of the day as I have been in the past, my desire was to do something positive and celebrate her existence rather than just reflect on my hating Veteran’s Day. And I did.

I reached out to an acquaintance who experienced the stillbirth of a twin a year or so ago, to pass on the importance of not feeling unique, alone, and isolated in the experience. I sent a flower arrangement to my amazing OB who has spent over a continuous week with me in the last three years, and who has given of herself as not just a doctor, but as a person and as a friend with just a simple note of thanks. Not because it was needed, as I’m pretty sure she knows my appreciation of her, but just as a simple thing to make me smile in remembering Aurelia and the first person who ever touched her and did so with not just care in her movements, but true depth of emotion.

Aurelia Diane, you were named for the strongest woman from ancient history that I could think of (that Paul would agree to, he vetoed Hatshepsut, for which we should all be thankful) who impacted the course of history. While your ripples in the universe will not be known by name millennia from now, they are no less significant. You matter, my first baby girl.

Aurelia Diane, you have two sisters who both bear a first name beginning with an A in your memory and a powerful middle name we bestowed upon them in your honor. You have an oldest brother who remembers you always and has been the force in this universe who has most unabashedly kept your memory alive. And you have a twin who does not know you now, but will know you, and know the gift of time that you gave him.

Aurelia Diane, I promise to try to see your life more instead of your death. I promise to try to continue living the lessons you taught me and to continue to share them.

Aurelia Diane, I’m not sure I ever actually told you this in words, but I love you. 


  1. Remembering Aurelia today (and by extension you and your family) and many other days too.

    Glad that you are seeing more of her life and how she has impacted others.

    Your honest sharing of her story and your feelings help honor and keep her memory alive.

    Hugs lady,
    Amy F.

  2. Dearest Liz, I think of you and Aurelia often. I cherish the knowledge that you held her and loved her - grieving her loss as you celebrated Chiron's survival. I can't begin to imagine handling these overwhelming dichotomous emotions simultaneously, but yet while working in the NICU I see parents struggle to get through this situation more often than I would like. The loss of an infant is often taboo, and I am glad that you have found this forum, along with connecting with other parents, to acknowledge and celebrate your beautiful first daughter. Your strength throughout the entire parenthood journey has been inspirational and your openness and honesty about the tough moments as well as the joys is always amazing to me. I grant you my deepest respect, along with my love to you and every member of your family, including dear little Aurelia. I am honored to know you, and to have had a tiny part in helping you as Chiron struggled to adjust to life apart from you and his sister. Forever a phone call away….Patty

  3. Thinking of you today, Ms. Wiley. What a beautifully moving tribute you have written to your Aurelia.

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