I'm not sorry I went. If nothing else, Harper has taught me that every hug matters. Every willing ear to tell a sad story or recount happy memories to is important.
But it shook loose memories that lay sleeping. The night Harper died, we left the hospital in total numbness. We'd expected to be there for the night, instead we left barely two hours after we'd arrived, leaving our baby girl behind, no longer breathing.
We'd forgotten to validate our parking.
Here's the thing about Georgetown Hospital. You can't go two feet without someone offering to validate your parking. Our visiting friends commented on it, the almost creepy nature of the friendly staff, always ready to give you that magic sticker. And it's necessary, because parking with validation is totally reasonable, but without it, totally exorbitant.
That night, the parking attendant noted we had no validation and asked for the full price. We stared at him with red, blurry eyes. "Please, man," Lou told him, "Our baby just died."
"What?", the attendant said.
"Our baby just died," Lou told him, voice catching. I started sobbing.
Clearly flustered, the attendant said, "OK, OK, wait a minute..." He charged us the lower price.
I had completely forgotten about that. It jarred other memories: the phone calls on the car ride home, to tell our parents she was gone. The very sweet speech therapist in the NICU, still giving me advice on improving Harper's suck, even as she was clearly in her last few days. Lou crying while holding her, moments after she was gone, telling her he was sorry. Running on the treadmill through the dull pain of the healing c-section, because it was the only thing I could think to do. The smell of her scalp and the tickley feel of her downy fuzz when I kissed her head.
Part of me likes it better when these memories are sleeping. They make me cry. They physically hurt. They keep me awake at night.
But they are all I have of the baby I lost. And it scares me to think they might ever be lost.