That was the first toy we bought her, the lovable but gloomy old grey donkey from Winnie the Pooh.
This one was soft and rubbery.
It was to be the toy that kept her company in her crib.
That would make her giggle and laugh at the sight of him.
That she would chew on when she was teething.
That she would snuggle next to in bed.
That she would cry over when she couldn’t find it.
That she would place on her windowsill when she got older.
That she would maybe take to her college dorm room with her as a reminder of home.
That she would pack away and then give to her own child. Her grandchild.
That maybe she would want buried with her when it was her time, a reminder of a life well lived.
Eeyore. Our favorite Pooh character. So much riding on one little toy.
But Eeyore never made it to her crib, never sat on the windowsill, or her bed, or her dorm room.
Molly Lynn, our daughter, died one day after she was born. Before she could ever hold Eeyore in her tiny hands, or giggle over it’s hangdog features.
A disease and a doctor killed her.
The disease was diabetes. Jane, my wife, was 16 when she learned she was diabetic and that she would spend the rest of her shortened life shooting insulin into her stomach or her thighs twice a day. Diabetics have a difficult time carrying a fetus to term. Her pregnancy was a risk. We knew that. But, we so wanted a family. Molly was to be the first of three, maybe four.
We were careful, so very careful, following every instruction of her doctor in minute detail. But still, five months in, Jane went into labor.
It was going to be a difficult delivery anyway, but it was made more so by a delay in reaching the doctor, who was playing golf when he finally got the call. By that time, Molly was on her way. But it was a breech baby, which meant that she was coming out feet first, not the typical head first of most births.
The doctor could have done a caesarean and delivered Molly that way. He opted to use forceps to pull Molly from the womb.
And crushed her skull.
They rushed our baby to an intensive care fetal unit at another hospital, and hours passed before I got a call at 3 a.m. telling me that our daughter was dead.
Exhausted and sedated after a difficult birth, Jane remained in the hospital and I was alone, in the dark, and I couldn’t stop sobbing. I never cried so hard and for long before and never have since.
Life was never the same after that, particularly for Jane, who blamed herself and her disease for Molly’s death, and especially after we nearly lost our next child, our son Seth. Our marriage suffered and eventually we drifted apart. In the end, more than our daughter died that night. So did our lives together.
Whoever first said that time heals all wounds, never lost a child. That wound never heals. It’s raw and painful and unceasing. The “what ifs” haunt you every single day of your life … for the rest of your life.
September 26, 1974 the day Molly Lynn came into this world. September 27, 1974 the day she left it.
January 2, 2007, the day another Molly came into this world. Our grandchild, Molly Jane. The person Jane never got to see, or hug, or … love. Diabetes claimed her three years earlier.
Eeyore, meanwhile, sat alone in a toy box for a time, until Jane and I decided to donate him to Goodwill.
It was hard saying goodbye to him, but we hoped that someday, the floppy-eared, sad-eyed little donkey could find his way into some other crib.
And make a child giggle and laugh at the sight of him.