By Kelsey Wensley
January 18th, 2016. It has been 18 months to the day since I last laid eyes on my sweet miracle, Ruby Echo. 548 times the sun has risen and set, like it did the day after she was gone, and yet not a single ounce of me has been the same. This journey has not been smooth. It hasn’t always been beautiful, but it’s mine, and I’m proud of every step.
In order to tell you how far I’ve come, I need to tell you where I started. September 2014 was the lowest point. I would regularly have flashbacks while driving, of my sweet daughter’s face, changing from red to blue to grey. I would have images of her laying cold in a morgue waiting to be picked up by the funeral home. I would daydream of ending it, simply by letting go of the wheel. I wanted to be with Ruby. I suffered silently. I lashed out at the ones I love and at complete strangers. I was so angry and so very sad. I excluded myself in family gatherings. I associated everything with my daughter’s death, and I was hurt when no one else shared in my daily pain.
December 2015, I decided to change all of it. I made a promise to be kind to myself, to love myself. I started to live as if my daughter was watching my every move, the way she would have if she were here. To me, that meant no more wallowing in my own self pity. I started yoga for grief (yes, it’s a real thing), and slowly I started to feel more alive. I realized I no longer told her story in the same light, it sounded more beautiful than tragic. I started to do things in her honor, things to honor other children that have passed, all in her name. It felt amazing to give back the same kindness and love that I felt when I was carrying Ruby. It made my heart swell with pride and an indescribable love to be able to share our journey with others who might be struggling.
I created a team for the March of Dimes in her name last spring, I didn’t know how well it would be received, but I was so pleasantly surprised. A team of 56 walkers (and a slew of supporters) for Team Ruby Echo flooded that track and spread laughter and smiles throughout the day. We almost didn’t even fit into view for a team photo! I was on cloud nine because so many people wanted to share love.
I started hiking, pushing my limits and testing my own fears. I’ve survived the worst, how could a mountain scare me now? I started laughing and smiling a lot more, little by little I allowed that 4lb 2oz, 14 inch hole that was left in my heart to be filled with more love and joy than I could have ever imagined. I needed to make it all mean something, I needed to make a difference in the world. I needed to make sure that wherever she went, I earned my spot right next to her. I grew stronger, with each step I took.
I won’t lie, it took a lot of courage to get where I am now. I ended some emotionally abusive relationships with others and with myself; I decided that I deserved better. I would have never wanted Ruby to see me beaten down, or to struggle to stand up on my own two feet. I created realistic goals for myself and I conquered them head on, one little step at a time. Some days I wobbled, and some days I absolutely fell flat on my face, but that tiny voice always called me back to my feet.
My Ruby. I dream of the day that I will hear it, that sweet little high pitched giggle, the little voice that sounds like a song. I do everything I can think of to ensure one day my dream comes true, and I can finally hear my sweet girl call out “Momma! Come play!”
Until then, I’ll keep earning my spot next to her.
Kelsey Wensley is the author of Letters For My Ruby and an advocate for babies deemed “incompatible with life”. She is finding healing and peace through love and yoga. Find Kelsey her on Instagram or Facebook.