Monday, February 22, 2010

Twenty-two

November 1, 2005.
Over two years.
We had a daughter at home.
We had "babies" at home.

I was healing.
The world was spinning.
And we were happy.
We were healing.

And yet, I still missed him.
I continued to go to support group meetings each month.
More as the supporter- than the supported-
More to say his name-
To remember him-
To make it matter-

I had a fear I may forget- may stop going each month- stop speaking his name as I had-
But it had only been two years.
Would things change in time?

I didn't want to forget him.
Not ever.
I was smiling again and I was afraid the world would forget him.
I didn't want them to forget him.
Not ever.

So I went to the meetings-
I spoke our story-
And on November 1, 2005
Others heard our story too-
His story-
Because it was featured in a newspaper.

I read our story-
Our words-
Saw pictures of my hands-
holding his hat, his footprints, his things-
And for a moment- He was remembered-

Remembered beyond us- beyond the safety of the walls where my beloved meetings took place.
He was remembered still- but now by people we hadn't ever met-
They saw his name-

I was teaching at the time.
The school day had ended and I was erasing the chalkboard.
When I noticed a woman was standing at my door.
She held something in her hand. She had a warm smile and asked if she could have a moment.

I welcomed her in.
She said that she had children who had attended the school years ago.
Before my time.
She was very nice.

And that's when she pulled out a frame.
A large frame with four footprints.
Her eyes glazed as they met mine.
She told me it hangs in her home still.

Under each footprint was a name.
She pointed to one and said, "That one would be twenty-two." I heard her voice break. "She would have been twenty-two. You won't forget."
I stared at the footprints.
The name.
Her name.
Given twenty-two years ago.
Taken home twenty-two years ago.
Remembered.
Twenty-two.
And I remember her still.

I'll remember him still.
Remember him.
Share him.
Andrew.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Her?

Her.
She prayed for her tonight.
First she asked God if she could one day see her brother Andrew's eyes.
Then she said, "And God, I'd really like to see her eyes too. You know, my sister, Baby E."
(gulp)

Flashback-
September 2009. I was waiting to have the surgery. The one that would take whatever may have been left from our baby, of our baby. Our baby. I wept and I wished I could say more than just 'our baby.' I wish I could speak a name.
"Close your eyes Laura- you know it- you know it in your heart- feel it- you know if that baby was a boy or a girl."

So I tried. I closed my eyes- and I prayed but feelings weren't enough for me. What if I was wrong?

On Valentine's Day, we spoke of them. My husband and I went to dinner alone. It was so nice. And we talked mostly of our children. Our children- Andrew and Baby E. And he told me he had a dream, that when he went to heaven he met God, and he walked with Him and He introduced him to our son. Our son Andrew. And then He turned and spoke the most beautiful name. It was so beautiful- more beautiful than anything he had heard. God spoke the name of our baby. Our baby who lived there, with Andrew.

Flashback-
September 2009. My husband. Hurting so. It had happened again. Another one gone. "And we can't even give our baby a name. That may be what hurts most of all. I need a name, Laura."

So I tried. I closed my eyes- and I prayed but feelings weren't enough for me. What if I was wrong?

Her?
She prayed for her tonight. My five year old prayed for her sister. Her sister Baby E. She is convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that she has a sister. While her brother speaks of Andrew, she speaks of her sister. Her. That one day she'll be able to see her eyes. When we're all in heaven together.
Her eyes.
Her's.

So I try. I close my eyes- and I pray, but feelings aren't enough for me. What if I am wrong?

So tonight I will wonder, and dream of you still. Dream of you, our little spark, and wonder if your sister is right. But I won't know. Not really. Until that day when we're all together. When I can look into your eyes.

And learn your name.

Friday, February 12, 2010

"At home"

I am a teacher.
When I came back to work after having my boys.
Having one-
Losing the other-
I expected the questions.
They came-
I answered-
And if felt right.

The next year as I introduced myself to a room full of excited second graders, I told them a bit about myself adding that I had a husband, two dogs, and a little boy at home.

Some how adding the 'at home' after I mentioned any living children seemed to be o.k. and no one really ever picked up on those two little words. I felt better for saying them and unsuspecting people sure felt better that I didn't have to put them in the awkward position of telling them the 'whole' story- that I had one at home and one in heaven.

As I told my students my story, one little girl rose her hand and said, "Yes- you have a little boy and you had another boy who died."

I was shocked that she knew- had remembered- perhaps heard from an older sibling- a neighbor-

"Yes. Yes I did."

And then the next question came.

"What was his name?"

"Andrew."

And another.

"Did it make you sad?"

"Very."

And that was where their questions ended about my son- and turned to my two dogs at home- a much more enjoyable topic for children who perhaps longed to have a pet of their own.

I thought about it- the questions hung in the air- but for them they seemed to evaporate- and so eventually I let those questions go- I kept the warmth from their memory- but I let them go- evaporate-

Until I heard from my principal- parents were mad- I was talking about my 'dead son'- parents were angry- and they wanted to confront me.

I was mortified. I didn't know what to do. I was not in the place I am now- I wasn't ready to talk about him and certainly not in front of a large group of people- what if I cried- I knew I would cry...

My story- a story that will forever impact my living children- that yes- babies do die- was now influencing these children, and I felt horrible for it- and even more horrible that the parents in that classroom would think that I would share such sorrow with their children. Share a piece of heartache with them intentionally. Suddenly those innocent questions- that innocent moment was forever tainted- tainted with some horrible connotation- with the shadow of death- and all that was bad- when really for me- in that moment- it felt healing- they remembered- they cared...

The parents never did confront me. I beat them to it. I sent a letter home explaining what had happened- the exact exchange that happened in the classroom and I apologized. I apologized for losing my son- and for their children to know my story-

It makes me angry now-

Six years later, my students don't know of Andrew- or even Baby "E" (Perhaps she had her appendix out...) They know that I love butterflies- especially the blue ones. They know that I have a fondness for heaven and they know that I have a husband, two dogs and four children "at home".

And that is where it ends.
And that is o.k.

So recently when one of my students found my family blog, with a link to these moments, I froze- and that moment so long ago came rushing back- though now six years later- more secure in my reality I know I would never apologize- not for two of the biggest blessings in my life that are no longer 'at home' but remain even closer- forever living in my heart.

I have been quite careful on here to not mention the blessings that I have "at home," though I know that many of you have read about those blessings on my other blog. Because that blog is no longer found through a search, if you would like to still read about those days- please send me an email or leave me a comment and I will send you the new address.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for seeing me for the mother I am. The mother of six. Six in my heart.

Hugs-
Laura

Monday, February 8, 2010

Husbands (3 stories)

All grieve so differently.
All of us.
And so do our husbands.

~
I remember meeting him at a meeting-
Perhaps there more for his wife than for himself-
Talk?
It appeared to me he didn't know exactly what to say- but he started speaking-
And he held her- so tiny and small in his hands- born far too early- he held her and as his wife lay recovering from a delivery much too fast- much too early- he spent those moments holding his firstborn- a daughter- and looking at her he saw her- her life- flash before his eyes- he saw her as a toddler, awkward steps as she'd learn how to walk- first days of school, awaiting a bus- prom and how nervous she would be awaiting her date- the wedding, walking her down, giving her away- he saw it all- it all flashed before him like a dream- a marvelous, wonderful dream- and then it was gone.
So plainly he said it-
Without much emotion-
But he saw it as he spoke- and we all saw it too-
Tears streamed down the faces of those there that night- mostly by the one who held his hand- the one who carried his daughter- the one who longed to know how he was feeling-
~
~
She felt such a disconnect. He wouldn't talk about her- not really- and every time she brought her up, he would shut down, and the wall began to grow. The bricks stacked up between them grew until she wondered if they'd ever be able to break them down. She began to tuck some money away. What had happened to them? She was so unsure- until the day he came to her- said he wanted to be baptised- why?- because he wanted to see that little girl again- had to- and he wasn't going to take any chances- he wanted to do anything and everything he possibly could to see her- to see her again- And in that moment, the wall that was between them vanished. Perhaps tears? As they held each other in their arms grieving their daughter that was born sleeping- Had he been thinking of her all along- he must have been- but she hadn't known- not until that moment-
~

~
He didn't speak for days- he couldn't- and while he would entertain her questions- his answers were short- he didn't want to speak of him, he couldn't- the pain was too fresh- but the days went on- and the world began to spin and they began to laugh again- live again- they had movie nights- and game nights- and pizza nights- Every Friday they had pizza- and he would get it- even when she offered- no- he would get it- years later she learned he ordered it from the pizza chain that was located in the hospital- so he could visit his garden- see his son's name- talk to him- alone- under their stars- talk to him-
he told me this-
years later.
~

They are all so different- but this I know- they hurt- they ache- they grieve- They grieve for their wives- they grieve for their children- parenting a living child is so very hard- remembering one- honoring one that left too soon is even harder.

Don't forget about them.
I promise you, they haven't forgotten about their children.