Who’s up for an angel story?
I play radio roulette. Although I own an iPod, I’ve gotten adept at skimming the “variety” channels, that special breed of “variety” that means “the same five songs every hour, plus a handful of lower-rotation ones.”
On February 28, 2000, my Patient Husband and I learned during a “routine” ultrasound that our baby would die at the end of the pregnancy due to a birth defect called anencephaly. We spent the next day in shock, and the day after that (March 1st, because it was a leap year) we drove two hours to a major hospital to confirm the diagnosis.
Back then, Disney had just released Tarzan, so the Phil Collins song “You’ll Be In My Heart” was on high-rotation. I heard it every time I started the car, but I loved it because the lyrics were “angelable.” Just take my hand and hold it tight. I will protect you from all around you. I will be here. It sounded perfect for a guardian angel, so whenever I heard it, I’d think of mine. And for reasons I won’t get into now, I think the angel liked the game too.
Driving into the mountains to have a doctor confirm that Emily would die after birth, my Patient Husband was Patiently Tolerant of my radio roulette as I churned through the static.
I got a thought: station 3.
I pushed it. Static.
Another thought: go up.
I pushed the “scan up” button and it stopped on a snowy song that was just ending.
I got a thought: wait.
I waited. And then the next song: You’ll Be In My Heart.
My first thought was how sweet, because the angel wanted me to know I wasn’t alone.
And then the lyrics: I will protect you from all around you.
But here I was, literally “all around” Emily, and I hadn’t been able to protect her. She was going to die, and I couldn’t do a thing to save her.
The lyrics continued: For one so small, you seem so strong… After the ultrasound, they’d said she was a strong, healthy baby other than being about to die. This bond between us can’t be broken…
I would always be Emily’s mother. That couldn’t be broken. I’d be the mother of a dead baby.
Right there in the car, I still remember we’d just changed highways and the mountains stood on either side of the car…and I bawled. I listened through the whole song, but I bawled.
On the two-hour drive home, despite radio-roulette, I didn’t hear it again.
In fact, I didn’t hear that song until August, after Emily died (when again, it was everywhere). Despite the high rotation. Despite hearing it just about every day until March 1st, that song disappeared.
Nowadays, the song belongs to both of them. Both the baby I cried for and the angel who didn’t want me to cry.