Saturday, February 12, 2011
It's so odd- you're always in the back of my mind, and yet when Joe says your name it steals my breath- only when he says it- and I don't know why... Perhaps it's because I am waiting- waiting for that next question- the ones he asks when trying to put his story together... your story.
Last night your dad was at practice and your three youngest sibs were tucked into their beds fast asleep. I was a bit tired after a long day at work and was reading a bit in my bed when Joe came in. He had a smile on his face and came in my bed, gave me the biggest hug and told me what a wonderful mom I was (he has a sweetness about him- a trait he inherited from his namesake, no doubt). He was looking at his belly button and asked me why we have them. I told him that his belly button marked a very special place. I explained to him that there was a cord that was attached between the two of us- how it was what kept him alive- it was how he breathed, how he ate- and then he said, "Did Andrew's not work?"
And for some reason, I found myself telling him more about his story- your story. I told him that when you were both in my tummy you did lots of flips and somersaults- that you were having a regular party in there- but that with all that fun, that cord wrapped you guys up and that you were caught in a tangle. He asked me if that is what happened to you and why you died. I nodded- but I also told him that he was wrapped up in it too- and that God knew to get me in that hospital- so that he could be born- and that he would be ok.
I watched him as he took in my words- adding the newest piece that I gave him to his puzzle. He did not look alarmed or even saddened. I watched him so closely, Andrew- and I wish I could have crept into his mind- but he's seven and I do not want him to see my grief- the magnitude of it. So when I share your story, I try to share the joy- the hope. I told him that perhaps when you both got tangled, and God called you home, that you said to God, "My brother needs to be with my mom." And sometimes I like to believe that is the way it happened. That somehow you protected him- or probably more so... protected me.
And then he asked what you looked like. I told him that you were bigger than him! That you were bigger than all his sibs. I told him that you looked a lot alike. That you were pink and beautiful and just looked like a sleeping baby. I told him how I carried you both back to my hospital room- how we had some time together- I put my finger in your hand and told him how you seemed to grasp my finger. He smiled.
And then he pointed to the dresser where I have your picture- high above where he couldn't really see it. He said, "Is that his picture?" "Can I see it?"
And I hesitated.
I remember when I got those pictures of you. How I hated them and loved them all at the same time. I hated that they were taken long after you left me- after your body began to change- I hate that sometimes I wonder if they are replacing those memories I had that September night... And then I love them. I love that I have a picture of you. A reminder that you were real- Not some made-up story- Not a dream that I had, once upon a time...
The ones your dad doesn't like because they, too, are not his memory. The ones that I looked at for hours until I could see them without being overcome with sobs. The pictures that I chose to keep in my room only- for my eyes only-
And here he was asking. I got up from the bed and picked up your picture. Your darkened lips, your reddish hair, your darkened hands... and in those steps I prayed, that Joe would be ok to see this, that I would be ok sharing with him- for, after all, you are his brother...
I sat next to him and we looked at your picture. I didn't even look at Joe's reaction, I couldn't take my eyes off your face. For though your picture is always there- like you are always in my mind- I hadn't sat and really looked at it- not really- not like that.
Joe took a breath and mentioned your hair. And I told him that he and the others all had little wisps of hair before they were bald for two years- He didn't mention your lips- your hands- your coloring. Perhaps he saw you as I did- as a perfect little person.
And then we talked of heaven and how you have a perfect body now- one that doesn't get sick or hurt. One that never needs a band aid. I told him that he would recognize you- that I would recognize you- and I watched as that made him smile.
And tonight I am thinking about those words- and that conversation that again turned suddenly to his poor fish, Rocky- that you must be taking care of- even now as I type. We fell asleep in each other's arms until daddy carried him back to his bed when he came home.
And I wonder now as I type this if you were there- somehow seeing all that took place- somehow felt all the love that grows for you still. Oh Andrew, there is so much that I wonder...
But for now he has yet another piece- and I wonder when the next moment will come- the next question...
But for now, I know he is full, he is at peace, he is safe. And though he talks about God and how He is always with him, he has also mentioned you- and just like being a twin must have been so special- having a twin is special too- and I'm so glad that he has you- still.
I love you.
Always and Forever,