Last week, my entire family and I decided to take a much needed vacation to Cleveland, Ohio to visit my aunts. I lived there for a couple of years right after high school but Logan had never been to that side of the country. I had a few things I just HAD to do while I was there–most were places that I just HAD to eat. I have been back for quick trips a total of three times since I moved, but being there a full week, I knew there was one place I had to go. Hillcrest Hospital. The place where I became a mother. The place I experienced the most life-altering loss. The place where I became a warrior. (To read Peyton’s birth story, click HERE)
In the ten years since the arrival of my son, I have never once set eyes on the place. I can’t really describe why; I don’t hold any ill will towards the place that essentially saved my life. It just haunts me. Over the last few years, I have really learned to mourn my son in a whole different way than I did the last time I was there. My anger is gone. The bitterness the loss has left my mouth. When I found a secure relationship with God, I started to have a more serene outlook on the beginning of my journey into motherhood. I decided that it was time to face it head-on and really find some peace. I also wanted to make sure that I could still cry tears of sadness for the loss of my only son.
As soon as we got into the car to drive the 30 minute trek into Mayfield Heights, I could feel the anxiety growing. I don’t know what feeling was more overwhelming, the need to cry, or the intense need to vomit. The drive hadn’t changed a lot on the way there; Ohio has a funny way of not really changing much. I think the Progressive Insurance building moved but other than that, it seemed familiar. As soon as we got off the exit ramp I was trying to subdue a full-blown anxiety attack. I was having flashbacks of the last time I made that drive. The utter fear I felt that night rushed back instantly.
Once the hospital was in my view, I was taken aback to see how much has changed. They built a really modern and pretty looking window front in front of the original brick building. The ER doors that I walked through years ago are closed up with matching brick. The ER entrance is now toward the back of the building. I remember the exact parking spot we used that night. I even wondered briefly if the pavement may still be stained with my blood. We drove all around the building and came back out front through the valet line. I got out of the car and just stood there.
I stared at the new building imagining that night. I felt sad and overwhelmed instantly. I hadn’t felt that raw sadness about the loss of my son in a long time. In the ten years since his short visit Earth-side, I have told his story so many times that I am practically immune to the sadness. I think I am more sad about not being sad. It felt good to know that I am still so full of sorrow. I am still grieving. It scares me more to think that I am “getting over it” and I know now that I am not. Nor will I ever be. I carry his spirit with me every single day and it keeps me going. He makes me a better mom and a better person. Standing in front of the only place he ever knew, I could still feel anger and loss. Those feelings were totally healthy in that moment. It meant I am secure in not only the strength his life brought me but even more so in the weakness. I felt complete, knowing I could still shed tears of sadness for the loss of my Peyton.
I didn’t start sobbing or anything too dramatic. I sat quietly and tried to participate in the neutral conversations my cousin was trying to start. I knew she was lost for words and was hoping to help me through. It did. I cried silently to myself reflecting on that night. Just a few lone and healthy, quiet tear drops. Next time, I will go inside. I know the maternity ward has not only been remodeled but has also moved. I wonder if Amy, my nurse, still works there. Next time, I will find out and tell her just how much she meant to me that night. Next time, I will focus on every positive I have. This trip was about finding the sadness again. I know it sounds so odd to want sadness, but after ten long years of growing up, struggling, finding joy, coming to peace, and all the other emotions that come with any loss, it felt really good to go back to the core. To cry tears of heartbreak for the loss of my little angel.