It is strange what the mind remembers. I don't remember getting up and getting dressed that day, but I remember exactly what I was wearing. October 7, 1974, dawned and we knew we had to say goodbye to our daughter that day. I wanted to go to the funeral home to see her before the funeral but my requests kept being denied. My husband wasn't denying me, but my mother in law was. She seemed to be running the show. I don't actually remember anything about the funeral, except that the song "In The Garden" was played on the organ and two pastors held the services - our pastor and the pastor who baptized me when I was 12. He just happened to be pastoring a church in a nearby town. Lots of people were there, I know only because they signed the guest book. There were lots of pretty flowers, I know because of photos and the cards from the florists. My memory escapes me of entering the church, I don't know what was said by the pastors, but I do remember leaving the church. Up to this point, I had never seen Meredith except through a window, never touched her, never looked at her close up to remember her little features, never held her in my arms. All the funeral attendees had passed by her casket, and it was time for the family to see her. My brother was holding on to my left arm, and I suppose my husband was on the right. I tried to focus on her face, but I couldn't, so I leaned down to kiss her lips.My brother thought I was passing out and held me so I couldn't go, so I turned to him and told him what I was trying to do. I bent down again and did kiss her, then I was rushed out of the chapel. This baby had been inside me for months. I had felt her kicking and moving. We had dreamed of and planned for her. We had chosen her name. I got to look at her face for maybe 10 seconds total. I NEVER GOT TO HOLD MY BABY!!!!! I just wanted to hold her so badly - I didn't care if she had autopsy scars, I just wanted her - to smell her, to outline the shape of her little ears, at least knowing I sent her to her grave with the touch of her mother on her tiny body. Her lips were all I ever got to touch.
The chance to touch Meredith was fading quickly in the sunset. Plans had been made for my husband and his parents to go to her burial place, about 125 miles away, in my hometown. I wanted Meredith buried by my beloved grandmother. My parents had been to see us every day since Meredith was born, making that long drive back and forth. The day of the funeral, Mother's sister and my brother came, too, as they were going to transport the casket to the cemetery. It would have cost a small fortune (for us) for the funeral home to do this. Mother and my aunt sat in the back seat with the little closed casket between then, steadying it gently with their hands. Daddy and my brother were in the front. Brother was driving. I had been told that I couldn't go to the cemetery and when I asked why not, my mother in law spoke up and said that Dr. D said I might start bleeding uncontrollably and nothing could be done to stop it. Apparently, that was why he wanted me on Valium, so I could stay calm. In reality, all I felt was drugged. Why had he not told me himself? I will never know. Anyway, I decided I was going, and my mother in law was rather snippy with me. She said she didn't want to take the responsibility of my dying while I was with her. I got very upset, and said if I couldn't go, I wanted hubby to stay with me. After talking back and forth, he saw how agitated I was becoming and said he would stay. That was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made, denying him the right to accompany his daughter to the cemetery. I can't take it back ( I did apologize) and he wasn't angry about it, but I have seen the sadness in his eyes in earlier years when we would discuss it.
They all drove on to the graveside service, and my in laws came back with potted plants and flower arrangements sent to us from my hometown friends, people who had known me all my life. The guest book was brought to me and I looked at all the sweet people who had attended the morning funeral service and all the friends and family who had come out on an October afternoon to see our child. The picture at the top of the page is of Meredith at the graveside service. She's wrapped all snug and warm in her little pink shawl, surrounded by beautiful floral offerings.
I can't remember who first mentioned it or how it came about, but that morning before the funeral my father in law came to get my camera so he could take pictures at the funeral home and at the cemetery. I am so glad he did because my memory is wiped clean of how she looked. I would not know what Meredith looked like except for looking at those pictures. There weren't very many, some were blurry, but they are worth their weight in gold to me. The medication I was taking, the fact that I never got to hold her or be close to her for very long, maybe even the loss of blood that I was experiencing - I just can't remember what my baby looked like. I have always kept the negatives to Meredith's photos in a firesafe lock box. They are that precious to me. Our daughter had been buried and I didn't get to hold her. I started sinking into a deep depression that I nearly did not climb out of.