Friday, October 8, 2010

Michael & Gianna


This post, I have dreaded writing. I have wrestled over whether or not I should - could - even write this. At the same time I can not get it off my mind. Not that it's ever off my mind. Not one.single.day. This weekend, Columbus Day weekend, will mark the passage of one year since my twin niece and nephew Gianna and Michael passed away.

The heartbreak has been crushing.

Last Columbus Day weekend my husband's younger sister, who I love dearly, went into premature labor at a little over 5 months of pregnancy with the twins. While at one time I vividly remembered every detail about the weekend, now half of it seems blurry. She was having contractions, I took her to the hospital. Held her hand while they monitored the babies and gave her a shot to try stopping the contractions. Being stressed leaving her at the hospital when her boyfriend arrived, wondering if I should stay overnight but knowing it was not my place.

She's my husband's little (OK, not so little anymore) sister and there is an 8 year age gap between us. I have been with her brother so long she was only 8 when I started dating him. All these years later I can not describe what I feel for her because it's all mixed up in sisterhood, partly feeling like a mom to her sometimes, and the close friend she has become now that we are all grown.

The contractions were stopped and she was sent home from the hospital. It was the day of the Columbus Day parade on the hill - a big Italian festival and she called my husband as the parade was starting to say she was going back to the hospital. We stayed at the parade with the kids, my parents, and our good friends all the time exchanging worried glances and waiting for our phones to ring. I had this feeling inside me screaming we just shouldn't be here.

We ended up leaving before the end of the parade, our minds elsewhere but trying to keep it all normal for the kids. A few hours later at home, when we finally got through to my husbands parents, we heard the awful news. She had the babies. And something that sounded like they didn't make it, but everyone was so upset it was hard to speak. I knew I had to be there, having carried high risk twins myself just 2 years before my heart was being torn apart. There had been Nothing wrong with her pregnancy! No morning sickness, no anything - every checkup was great! How could this be.

We called my parents to watch the kids and flew to the hospital. In our minds the babies had not made it, it was just too early. I had to see her and hold her and cry with her. She was my sister and I felt she needed me. At the hospital I went to the desk and lied that I was the actual sibling and begged for someone to tell me where she was. Due to the circumstances we would soon find out, they would not tell us anything but sent my father and mother in law down to see us.

They were crying, we were all in a state of shock. I remember thinking the elevator ride was taking forever. We walked down the corridor and into the room and that's when we really realized what was happening. Michael and Gianna were still with us. But it was too soon (by about a week if I remember it right) to be able to do anything to try and save them. They were not fully formed enough inside. My husband and I just stared at each other and made our way to a small corner on the other side of the room.

There were so many people in there. Wordlessly we looked around and saw her boyfriends extended family was there also. I even remember a friend they knew coming in to see the babies, and all I could think was this is not right, how can this be happening... and why were there so many people in this room. I honestly felt something break inside me. I was there, but I wasn't there - I was watching this, because I could not be living this.

I made my way to the hospital bed, hugged my sister as she cried. I, could not cry. I held the babies. Giving them each a little kiss on their heads killed me. I was supposed to be their auntie. An auntie for the first time. I loved these babies so much already, as if they were going to be my own. This was not the way it was supposed to be, my boys were supposed to have little cousins. Two sets of twins for the two of us, plus my big guy. 5 cousins. 5 grandkids. So close in age.

There's not much more I can say except that we went in and out of the room a few times. Nurses whispering, checking heartbeats. And After, we said our goodbyes. It was so hard to leave her there, I just wanted to crawl into that hospital bed with her and stroke her hair and let her cry. The next few days were a blur, we had to tell the boys the babies went to heaven. We spent a lot of time at my mother and father in laws house. There was a funeral. A gathering at the house after.

The last year has been one hell of a long road. I have questioned God, questioned my faith. Prayed the rosary more times then I can count. Still no answers come. The doctors can not explain what happened, other then there must have been an infection that came on suddenly. The not really knowing is hard.

I worried for a long time - I still worry - that the sight of my twin boys upset her. How can it not be a reminder. As a mom I can not imagine losing one child, never mind two. And while it did not happen to ME, I went through it each step of the way with her... and we all suffered a loss. Even though we all lost something different.

This weekend my husband and I will take our children to the cemetery and lay down some flowers. We will also take them to the Columbus Day parade as has always been our tradition. I don't feel much like celebrating though. I want to take all of her pain away, but I know that that is not possible.

This weekend though, Michael and Gianna (and my sister) will be on my mind - as they have been every day for the last year. In the words of the Dixie Chicks "they say time heals everything, but I'm still waiting..."

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