Death is ugly. It took my sweet baby girl's face and shriveled it. It took her delicate fingers and stiffened them. It was hard to see her "embalmed", but I felt the need to take care of her, whether in life or in death, whether in the womb or out. And even though she is no longer with us, I still feel this maternal desire to nurture her and care for her. I guess this will play out by putting flowers at her grave and having remembrances of her throughout our home. Her shadow box, her pictures. Her videos. Talking about her with the other kids to keep her memory alive inside of our hearts and minds.
Even in death, I felt like I needed to take care of her body. I wanted to be the one to do it. I'm Mila's mom, and I will be the one who takes care of her. So I went to the dressing yesterday. I'm glad Aaron came with me. I didn't think I would ever see her face again, this side of eternity, after handing her lifeless body over to the hospital morgue, but here I was with another chance to see her, and I couldn't wait. I was excited to see my Mila again.
But death changed her. Whereas before she looked like a newborn, now she actually looked dead. The embalming process involved putting formaldehyde in her bloodstream, which left a scar on her tummy where the incision was made to access a vein, and left her skin grey, and her limbs stiff. The back of her head was flattened, because her newborn bones were still so soft. Nobody told me any of this about death. It was a hard reality.
Upon seeing her changed body lying there on the table, I crumbled and wept all over again. Part of me wished I hadn't signed up for this. But then I remembered the women who went to Jesus' tomb that Resurrection morning. They went to anoint his dead body with spices. To preserve and embalm and care for his body, even in death. So, I too, will do the same. It is an act of love. A difficult act of love, an unreciprocated act of love, but an act of love nonetheless.
So we together dressed her, Aaron and I. I tried to keep up the positive attitude I'd been having, but it was really hard. This was the first negative experience we had with Mila, and I didn't want to have any negative experiences. But death carries a sting.
At some point later, Aaron told me he wanted to go back in time and tell Adam, "Do you realize what you have done to the world by bringing sin into it? Do you realize the ugliness and pain that you brought upon all of humanity?"
Aaron and I both went home that night and had to watch Mila's hospital videos again, just to see her and remember her alive again.
I dreaded the visitation today. I didn't want to see her dead anymore. And I didn't want anyone else to see her dead.
I entered the visitation room with Aaron, and once again just wept and wept and wept. I wanted to pick her up and hold her. My baby girl. My precious little one. My sweet baby love. My Mila Nova Davies. Her lifeless body peacefully at rest in that tiny casket, adorned with pink satin and ruffles and flowers all around. She was still beautiful. Dressed in the doll dress I bought for her. White with pink rosettes. A pretty pink rosette headband on her head. The little purse that came with her outfit tucked underneath her hand. Our hospital bracelets inside of that purse, to be buried forever with her. Her hair still as soft and velvety as I remembered it. But her head so cold. Her hands so stiff. Yet still my girl.
Both of my sisters came to the visitation tonight. Ramona had flown in from Georgia to be here with me. And 2 of my cousins also spent their evening with us in that little adorned room.
After everyone left, Aaron and I closed Mila's casket, never to be opened again.