Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dear Boe,

My husband and I decided that each Christmas we would place a card, letter or drawing in Boe's stocking. As our surviving children grow they will also be allowed to do so. This is what I had to say to my Baby Boy this year:

Dear Boe,

Here we are, another Christmas without you. As I sit here writing to you, trying to decide what I want to say, the house is quiet. It reminds me of how quiet the world was when your daddy and I held you for the first time. The world was so still and peaceful, serene. It was as if only the 3 of us existed in that moment, and I am so very grateful for that time. It was the only time I had to focus on just you. It was the only time I had to take you in, to see that, even in your small, damaged state, you were perfection. It was such a very short time into which I tried to cram a lifetime of loving you and feeling you close, and for that I am also grateful.

As your brothers and sister have grown and as we have welcomed your little brother, Brody, home the house has become louder and much more active. I can't help but wonder what would this house be like with you in it? What would this home be like with 2 "Adlers" running through it? Would you have been like him? Daring, physical, active? Or would you have been docile and calm? Yes, the quiet in the morning or evening is truly the only time I have to really ponder what should have been.

Don't get me wrong, I carry you with me always. You are in my heart, on my mind, and having Adler around gives me such a beautiful picture of the little boy you might have been. When he smiles or laughs it is as if I'm seeing you do the same, and it warms my heart.

I'll finish my gift to you with these words: All is calm, all is bright. It is in the midst of the calm times that I feel your presence the most; your loving energy shines most brightly. It warms me like a blanket and sets my mind at ease to know you are always near.

Merry Christmas, Baby Boy. Sleep in heavenly peace...

Monday, December 19, 2011

How does your garden grow???

In recent days, the Duggar family has taken much flack for not only announcing that they were expecting a 20th child, but that, in the wake of her death, they planned to name her and hold a memorial service. While I may not understand their way of life, or their beliefs, my heart aches for them. I do not wish what they have to go through on anyone,and the fact that they are now taking more heat for choosing to photograph their dead child, Jubilee, evokes even more empathy for them.

Adam and I have pictures of Boe. They were taken just hours after he was born, and I treasure them. I have chosen to share them with precious few people for a few reasons. First, I have not been ready or "able" to share them. Second, there is something macabre and creepy to most people when it comes to thinking or speaking of dead babies.

There is a quote which I have come across many times in the last months. I am not sure of its exact verbiage or who spoke the words, so I shall paraphrase. Basically, it says that a child who has lost a parent is an orphan, a woman who has lost a spouse is a widow, but there is not a word for a parent who has lost a child because the loss is just too awful.

Doesn't this speak volumes about our society's view of death? Think of all the euphemisms we have to define death: passed away, lost, met his maker, went on to a better place.... Does any of this change the reality of what has happened? Does it take away the ugliness and painfulness that an event like the death of a child (or any loved one) leaves behind to paint a prettier picture so that we might sleep better? Pardon my French, but isn't using an expression like this akin to using shit (fertilizer) to make roses grow?

Death is ugly and unpleasant and not something any of us ever wishes to experience. Inevitably, so is the grief that follows. We all move through it differently. Some of us turn inward and deal very privately, while others of us reach out and make our grief very public. Whether we agree with how others handle their feelings, or not, they are THEIR feelings. The bottom line is, if you don't like the fertilizer I or the Duggars, or anyone else might use to help their garden grow, don't stop to smell the flowers.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas without him...

Where are you Christmas

Why can't I find you

Why have you gone away

Where is the laughter

You used to bring me

Why can't I hear music play

My world is changing

I'm rearranging

Does that mean Christmas changes too

Where are you Christmas

Do you remember

The one you used to know

I'm not the same one

See what the time's done

Is that why you have let me go...

Since last year, I cry every time I hear this song. It reminds me that there is a part of Christmas that will always be missing and, for which, I shall always be longing and searching.Yet, inevitably, it is here. Christmas arrives every 365 days, regardless of what we do or how we might try to put it off. As the days close in on another Christmas without one of my boys, I look back over the past year, and I am amazed at how much has changed. We have a new life in our home, and he is warm and sweet and dear. Our little girl will be 3 in March, and she is so aware of of Christmas and all the joy it brings. We have had to "downsize" our tree because Adler and Cameron play like little Neanderthals, and we'd like for it to remain standing until Christmas has passed.

Even in the midst of all these changes, I am still so often drawn to what remains the same. Boe is not here, and he never will be, at least, not physically. His stocking hangs on the mantle only to be filled with unopened and unread cards and sentiments. His booties hang on the tree never to be filled by his sweet little feet, but to remind us of the path he followed as he journeyed through our hearts to Heaven.

I know that I am at a different place with my grief than I was last year. Last year, I really struggled to get excited about the holidays. I kind of forced it for the sake of my surviving children and found myself immensely relieved when it was time to de-deck the halls.

This year, I find myself looking forward to Christmas morning. The anticipation of watching the kids tear into their gifts and seeing how they react to all that awaits them throughout this season puts a smile on my face. The joy that I am feeling does not take away from the fact that we will be without Boe during this season. I will miss him, and I am sure that, in the coming days, I will shed more than one tear for my little boy lost. That being said, I know that even if Boe is not here physically, he IS here. He is the star on our tree, he is in his booties, his stocking, in his brothers' and sister's squeals of delight. He is always with us, surrounding us like a warm blanket. He is letting us know that in moving through our life with joy and gratitude, we honor and love him the best way we possibly can.

Christmas without him will look different from year to year, changing as our children grow and mature. Christmas without him will never be what I had envisioned, but I know if I keep him near it can definitely be more wonderful, magical and joyful than I could ever have hoped.

Joyeux Noel, mon petit ange. Je t'aime.