FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. – A group of about 30 adults gathered on Reservoir Hill under a blue sky broken by wispy clouds Thursday morning, October 15, 2020.
As the breeze blew lightly through the tops of the trees below the gathering, Lt. Col. Wendy Gray, Commander Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center, or RWBAHC, welcomed everyone to the second annual Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness event. RWBAHC organized the first remembrance day in 2019, holding a small ceremony behind the Army Health Center overlooking the mountains on post.
This year, volunteers from the Post Chapel joined forces with RWBAHC in organizing and sponsoring “A Walk to Remember.”
The purpose of Pregnancy Infant Loss Awareness Day is to recognize the tremendous rate of loss of life. According to the CDC, approximately 24,000 babies are still born each year and the infant mortality is 5.79 deaths per 1,000 live births in the United States.
This loss causes significant grief and can strain relationships.
Sgt. 1st Class James T. Van Sickle, the master of ceremonies, said, “It leaves a gaping hole in their parents’ hearts, regardless of how it happens. These babies leave their footprints on our hearts for eternity.”
Lt. Col. Devin Y. Cazares, the guest speaker, “You never see a pain like this coming, it’s like a strike of lightening during a summer monsoon storm. It blazed into our lives in a moment and then for all appearances was gone, but the scar left on the terrain of our hearts was a permanent one. Grief became a strange companion. It showed up when it wanted to, stayed however long it wanted to and didn’t neatly fit into steps or stages. Its arrival was triggered by strangely connected items to the loss, and it forever solidified our perspective. Life is such a gift. As the weeks and months passed after the loss of that pregnancy and my body physically healed up, I was a different person.”
She shared the story of her loss with others who had gone through the same trauma with tears streaming from her eyes, but she finished with strength, comfort and hope.
Cazares said, “No matter how dark the days are, there is always hope. Psalms chapter 30 verse 5 says, ‘Sorrow may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.’ That’s not a literal timeline, but the meaning to me was that sorrow will not be present with you forever, though it may feel like that for a season, but hope is a worthy thing to hold on to. As I waited in expectation of good things to come, one day they did … Please know you are not alone. Today there are shoulders here in this crowd if you need one to lean on, and hands that will quickly fold in prayer for your comfort. May God grant you grace for your journey.”
The ceremony finished with a “Walk to Remember” where those attending could take a short walk, chat with counselors or friends, or receive resources to help them through their grief processes.