Please forgive me… this may go on for a while. And at the same time, I promise to be brief. This week was supposed to be #52WeeksA4A Blog Challenge: charity. And it’s not. But it is. I guess. Maybe. It’s Erica. Maybe it always was. She challenged me and made me think harder. She would be sad to know I am questioning religion and why someone would let things like this happen to
good the best people. She would be disappointed to know that I cannot keep my shit together. That I can’t imagine what my feelings would be if I just shut my eyes and never reopened them at 32 years old. If my kids grew up not knowing me. Not knowing I was selfless. I was an advocate for women. Not knowing me. I cannot imagine being her… and yet I cannot stop. I cannot stop crying every single time I see my children smile. I can’t stop wanting to kiss my sweet Dave for a moment longer. I can’t imagine the hurt and anguish that comes with knowing Erica Shea. Because to know her means to lose her. And I ache knowing we lost her. If you follow me on IG, you may have seen lots of milk pictures. Ella is my milk baby. Josh and Erica Shea’s newborn daughter. This morning, I will make my last donation to my sweet Jackson. He was my milk baby for the past 6 (or so) months. I love that he’s a chunk, just like my sweet Millie. He’s 13months- happy and healthy and loves his big sister. His curls and the way he quietly takes his surroundings in are traits that made me love him. By fate (and a Facebook group) I met his parents, and was given the opportunity to donate to him. I loathe the pump, but engorgement is worse… and when I saw the happiness and smiles in his eyes, the rolls on his legs- I knew I needed to keep going. I loved him from the second I saw his face. But I’ll never forget the moment Erica told me she was pregnant. And I will never forget the phone call, where she asked if I would be willing to save milk for her. The moments we shared talking about how excited she was to be a mom again. That she wanted to do all she could for me for feeding her baby. I loved her from the moment I heard Erica exclaim, “I’M PREGNANT!” in the middle of our friend’s office. Then she looked at me, holding her son close to her, beaming, “but don’t tell yet.” I felt like bursting for her. Erica was an amazing doula- work meant for her. But she was meant to be a mother. In fact, as God would have it, her mission in life was to be so. I weep thinking about it. A woman who wanted to give me something for giving her child milk. A woman who would give her life for her daughter’s, though we didn’t know it at the time. Erica Shea fought. For her baby. For her birth. For her wishes. And at the closing of Amazing Grace, she closed her eyes and went home to God. If you would have told me 4 years ago when I first met her that I would have to say goodbye to her. That she would tell me jokes on the last day I saw her, June 2nd. And on that day she would make an entire room of people clap for me. That she would not let us talk about her selflessness- giving her body to her baby- but that she would sing my praises. That my guilt for that would erupt my heart again and again. That I would question myself as a mother because of her passing. …I never would have believed you. But… this isn’t about me. Or milk. Or even Ella. This is about Erica. This is about how her battle with cancer didn’t end the way we thought it would. The way we wanted, planned, begged from the Heavens, or bargained for with the Devil. How the true miracle is her daughter, and not her life. It’s about how the end seems so final, and yet we have to keep going. Her life impacting us daily. Forever. And so, this week isn’t about charity, but it is about giving. If you would like to read more about Erica, please come read more about her and our memories in the Clay Pot page we have for her, or consider giving to her family, husband Josh, son Cade and newborn daughter, Ella. Kiss your babies. Kiss your partner. Or parent. Or whomever is closest. Hold them a second longer than you meant to. Listen to Amazing Grace. And give a last prayer for Erica as she passes from being an angel on Earth, to a guardian in the sky.