All the people I love came rushing to my side. My family and friends pulled me together and helped me get through all of the mess I had created. I went into therapy. The doctors were trying to get me on medication—for good reason, I suppose; I wasn’t sleeping or eating. I could barely get myself to work. I was watching my friend Sheila’s kids. I was a mess … yet here was my friend intrusting me with her daughters, so I picked myself up got in my car and went to work.
I was sitting with Kim and Sheila one Sunday morning and the only thing I remember from that conversation was Sheila looking directly at me with conviction, “Listen to me, we will not let you fall we are here to catch you,” and they were. I stayed with my sister Wendy and her husband Mark. They dragged me to Yoga classes and tried to keep me busy. I stayed with Kim and Sheila, my two best friends; they were all warm and loving places where I could feel safe—if only for the time being. My friend Katrina took my cats and my mom and dad had my dog. I spoke and prayed with my minister Helice. She said to me, “This too shall pass.” Those words gave me a sense of peace I have never felt before. During such a trying time, it helped me tremendously. I saw a look in her eyes that told me that she too had gone through some pretty rough times and for that reason she was there to counsel and with me.
My sisters were all there for me. We cried and talked until I felt better. My mom and dad wanted me to come to the farm. But I knew I couldn’t handle all of the idle time in the car by myself and my misery. When I first met Donna, my therapist, we had an initial interview; she, along with the doctors I spoke with, thought that I should go on medication. I refused it and decided that I needed to feel everything I was going through and thank God, Donna went along with me. With every session, I felt myself gaining more strength. Step by step, she helped me realize that I had the capacity to own everything I had gone through.
Months passed and I phoned a friend; somehow I knew that he would help me. He offered me a place to live and gave me the opportunity to care for his son. I observed father and son and the immense amount of love they shared. I brought my camera to his house and some pictures of them. I was looking through my camera bag and I pulled the Angel Locket out of the side pocket, the necklace I thought was broken. It was fully intact, hanging on it was an Angel earring one I haven’t seen in years. A chill went through me. I called Sheila and all she could say was, “Go with it.”
Just as every momentous event that takes place in ones life there are minuet hints that help you prepare. I knew that there would be more to come.
Sheila had called David (Michelle’s father) recently to chat as they do once a year or so. He stopped by her house to say hello and meet her girls. Sheila told me that there was a sentiment in his eyes when he asked about me.
This is how our story begins.
It was almost twenty years ago that David and I met in high school and I fell in love with a blonde haired, blue-eyed boy. We dated throughout high school and I got pregnant. Pregnant and just out of high school—I was ready to take on the world, right? RIGHT …
I thought to myself how wonderful. I have a child inside of me; I can love it, take care of it, marry my childhood sweetheart, and live happily ever after.
I was getting bigger and bigger. The parties were not as fun and I was working full-time trying to save money to move out of my parent’s home. I spent half of my money on things I would need I bought jumpers, diapers, dishes. I saved the other half and packed my things. See, this was my plan:
5)Begin Life …
Michelle Ann Bernat was born on February 18, 1985. The minute she left my body and David cut the cord was a moment that would change my life forever.
Michelle was born sick; the doctors called it pulmonary artresia. She whimpered when she took her first breath—there was no cry. She was born with a broken heart.
Sitting in the waiting room during her surgery, which was done when she was only a few days old, I prayed to God something I had not done in a long time,
“My child must make it through this surgery because, God, I don’t know what I will do with myself if I cannot hold her in my arms.”
She made it through surgery; I thanked God. I couldn’t wait to take her home and begin our lives together. I was overflowing with happiness.
What I didn’t know was that the months to come would be the most excruciating and momentous time I am yet to experience in my adult life.
Being so young, David and I had to cope with the responsibilities of being new parents with little money and support as well as learning how to handle a sick child. Her doctor suggested that I take a CPR class. I went to the local fire station to learn. The nurses at Children’s Memorial taught us how to insert a tube in her nose and draw mucus from her lungs while she gagged and she was tube-fed. They showed us how to monitor her heart rate; when her temperature went up and her lips and fingernails turned blue, we knew it was time to take her to the hospital. On one visit, they were testing her for meningitis. That particular procedure, as I understand it, is quite painful, so they asked me to leave the room. I sat outside and all I could hear was her whaling in pain. This tore at every fiber of my being like an open wound unable to heal. I could deal with my own pain; it was hers that hurt so much and there was no bandage that could treat that suffering. I prayed, “Please God, please take away my daughter’s pain.” I did not get an answer.
To this day, I remember that look of agony in her eyes before I left the room and to this day, I still ask God to remind me why … I have been told that God works through you. It is my belief that this great Spirit works through me now as I write these very words for I could not do this alone.