May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
-Irish Blessing

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Reminder vs. Remembrance

Holidays are a time of celebration.  For those who have lost loved ones they can also serve as times of remembrance and sorrow.    When that loved one has sat at the dinner table holidays past, even just one time, there may smiles and stories to tell.  In my case, neither one of my sons has experienced a holiday.  I have never purchased a little suit or even a vest, never used a dab of gel to smooth an errant cowlick and never gazed across the table into the eyes of my sons.  My grandmother died just a little over a month after Wyatt died and every holiday celebrated at my grandfather's since her chair sits painfully empty, a reminder of her absence - and of her presence for so many years.

I don't have that reminder.  There is no physical evidence aside from the photographs hanging on my living room wall that my sons entered into this family.  We don't keep their things out in the open, they are too precious, too cherished and sometimes just too sad to see all that often.  

So I sit in silence during these holidays, smiling and enjoying the celebrations while silently aching for two little boys who will never come home.  I remember my sons instead of trying to find a way to remind others that they are gone.  I don't think any forced reminders of their absence would make me feel better anyway.  I am too scared to know why others don't acknowledge it and any words uttered in response just wouldn't seem genuine. I liken it to the kind of apology a child gives when her parent insists.  There is nothing that compares to someone's own remembrance of my children.  

I choose remembrance rather than reminders.  In my own way and on my own terms and I've learned not to seek validation in the words and actions of others.  I own this.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Walking in Someone Else's Shoes

It's taken me a long time (likely far too long) to have acquired the ability to silence my thoughts.  I was raised very vocally and to embrace negativity.  My priest referred to this as "awfulizing" yesterday in church.  So I know that some of you who have read my last post, "The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants" may have finished it with a bad taste in your mouth.  Nine years ago I would have too.  Nine years ago I had lost my firstborn and was expecting my first rainbow.  Health, not gender, is all that mattered.  But more than that, had I read my own words I would have felt anger at the author's lack of appreciation and gratitude for what she had been given.  Her complaints about gender would have incensed my grief over the son I had just buried months before when she had so much and I had so little.

Fast forward a few years and a few healthy rainbows and even after having two healthy girls I still would have not been able to swallow those words without tasting the bitterness.  I still would have thought that she just should appreciate what she has and not let what she doesn't eat away at her.  I probably still would have reacted with some anger.  So I understand if my feelings don't punch you in the gut like they do to me.

I get it.  It's hard for me to wrestle with these feelings knowing how very blessed I am to have these four daughters.  I just can't help wondering if these feelings are stringing behind Eli's death, if they've been buried and set aside since Wyatt's death, if they're a culmination of feelings after both boys' deaths or if it's something brought about by the end of my childbearing years?  Probably a little bit of everything.  But will they dim or go away and if so, when?  Will my heart ever put this to rest?  Add another unanswered question to the pile that has accumulated in my last ten years.

I don't know what has brought you to my blog.  Even if I have read every single detail of your loss(es) I could never possibly understand.  Likewise, no one can truly understand mine or these feelings that well beneath the surface.  Words of judgment and comparison come easy, what's hard is letting those words pass unspoken and without action.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants

I'd like to say that I'm completely comfortable being done having children.  But that would be a lie.  My heart betrays any words I could ever utter.  I want to raise a son.  My body just doesn't understand.  Six full terms pregnancies, six cesarean sections, two funerals and two periods of mourning and raising four little girls in ten years has taken a toll.  Okay, a pretty big toll.  I have done two back to back pregnancies twice, both on the heels of a c-section and smack dab in the middle of my period of mourning.  My body and my mind finally told me it was enough.  My head knew that ending my child bearing years was the right choice before my doctor told me that my uterus had thinned out to the point where another pregnancy would be inadvisable.  Tell that to my heart.  There is not a day that goes by when I am not aware of what is missing in this house, this family.  It's not always a conscious "whoa" type of thought.  It most often draws no tears.  But it's there nonetheless.  So I still haven't come to terms with what is and what it is that I deeply want.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Family - Going, Going, Gone?

Reflection, does a body good.  Or wait, is that vitamins?  Regardless, I find myself reflecting lately.  Specifically, my mind travels back to March 2011 and the months leading up to Eli's birth.  The agonizingly long yet fleetingly quick months during which I carried a precious baby not destined for this earth.  I have found myself walking on a similar path lately to the one which my family walked while I waited to give birth.  Shadowed by sadness and anxiety brought on by health problems beyond my control.  This time I am perfectly healthy, albeit extremely exhausted, but it is members (yes, members) of my extended family that worry me.  No less than three of my family members have received troubling medical diagnoses in the last month.  During that time I have found myself searching for and doing anything I can think of to help out in any fashion, often at the expense of my own physical, mental and emotional well being.  I've done these things without saying much and not seeking anything in return (honestly, I hate to even put those sentences in writing because it's just not about me).  I am being hit by such strong emotions that I just have to.  I have to.  

Yet this brings me back to Eli's pregnancy.  Not one person offered to cook me a meal while I was pregnant or brought anything by for our family.  No one came to visit and just sit with us.  No one babysit our three children so we could have a little time to ourselves.  In fact, during family gatherings (which were few during this time), pretty much nothing was even said about the tragedy playing out in my life.  There were a few extra phone calls from long distance family to check in every once and a while both before and after Eli was born.  But hey, no one in my family even asked what we would name our little one until the day before he was born!  There is one thing in particular that just stabs me every single time.  A family member had offered to take us on vacation before they knew about the pregnancy.  After finding out, talk of the vacation continued but we were not willing to commit to a destination at that time.  Then when we got the news about Potter's I think my husband may have politely declined.  We were a mess so I really can't remember.  So, this family member goes ahead and books a couple only vacation for the week after Eli's birth (I'm sure they didn't know it would play out so close to his birth but they did know my due date well ahead of time).  Then, this particular family member later broke the news that their family could only come for Eli's birth or the funeral - one or the other, due to time off concerns.  You know, that big week plus long vacation they were going to take after Eli was born.  

I don't expect people to go out of their way for me.  Honestly, that's usually just not the way our family plays things.  But seriously, you only come to visit a few days for our son's birth, skip the funeral and then go on a nice long no-kid vacation a week or so later?  I would have loved to get away from my life and the reality of my second dead child for just one day.  How wonderful would it have been for them to have planned a vacation for us in the wake of our grief (since they had offered it anyway)?  How wonderful would it have been for them to have just forgone the vacation and used that time to help care for our children while we grieved and I recovered from a c-section?  This is why the "what ifs" just don't belong in reality.  It is what it is.  But I just can't help wondering why I read about other families who have gone through situations similar to ours and they have had friends and family go out of their way to support them before and after their babies' births and ours just didn't really do that.  I have never felt so alone as I did during those quiet quiet months and the even quieter ones that followed. 


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