Today we did acts of kindness for Noah. And we asked others to join us. We went for a beautiful hike to the waterfall. We had dinner, and cake, and tried to explain to Sam who all of this was for. Owen gets it in a way that I wonder if Sam ever will. At Sam’s age Owen had already experienced death, loss and heartbreak. In some ways, even though he was born into a bereaved family, Sam has never had loss. He is lighter for it.
Four years ago tonight we were on the most surreal drive of our lives. Having given birth 12 hours before, we drove two hours with our baby in a tiny white coffin to take him to the funeral home, and say goodbye. It is the hardest thing I have ever done.
Still, I am glad for the time we had with him. And that we have pictures of him. He had high cheekbones like Owen, and Sam, and my side of the family. His lips and his nose were like theirs too.
I mostly share the pretty black-and-white, softened pictures from NILMDTS. But you can’t see him as well in them. You don’t see all the “disturbing” things. His bright red, paper thin skin. His huge, squishy head swollen with fluid. But you also don’t see that he has our cheeks, my nose, his dad’s eyes.
NILMDTS is an amazing organization. And I am so greatful for beautiful pictures that I can have up in my house.
But I love the real pictures too. Even if no one else wants to see them.
The prompt for today involved taking a picture of the rising full moon. Only it isn’t full here. The person who runs CYG is based in Australia. In Australia, the full moon rose on October 6th. Here, it was on October 5th. The challenges of touching people all over the world.
This moon looks full. You can’t easily tell at a glance that a piece is missing. Just like you can’t tell looking at our family. There is a shadow. Small, but present. You look at our family and we look like a happy family of four. But if you look close, if you listen, you can tell. Owen will tell you. The pictures on our wall show him. The handprint necklace I wear. Small, but present, these signs that Noah was here. Our family looks full, but we only wish it were so.
Crocheting is soothing. I didn’t pick it up until I had this desperate need to learn so I could create something after Noah died. When I am anxious, and jumpy and need call, crochet helps. It’s repetitive, rhythmic, and soothing. I prefer projects with small goals. So that I can see what I am creating taking shape.
I have always loved the line from RENT “The opposite of War isn’t Peace – it’s Creation!” Grief can feel like a war. With the world, with “why”s, with your emotions, with yourself. You are geared up for battle, but you can’t fight death. So we get angry and lash out at those who try to comfort us. Or, at those who are silent. Creating can channel all of that tension elsewhere.
Apparently there isn’t a good picture of all three of us, so this will have to do. We had only met 4 months before I was on bedrest. They took care of me, took care of my family, and supported us in every way. They were some of the first to know when everything went downhill fast. I spent more time crying on their couches than I can count. I knew I was always welcome, and there was nothing but understanding.
They are my tribe, my family. We celebrate together, vent together, and mourn together. From the mundane to the big things, we’ve been there for it all. They say you see people’s true colors when a tragedy happens. These two were here at the hardest time of our lives. They walked in when it would have been so easy to walk out.
“Love Is Enough”
I am feeling unprepared this year. I have so much I try to do in October. To honor Noah’s memory. To show how much he means, that he is part of our family, so we can share him and he will never be forgotten.
I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure. To do as much if not more than the previous three years. To show that we are not forgetting. But I know we are not. We don’t need a big show to honor him. To love him. Love is enough. This month I am going to try to relax. To focus on love, and not the stress of “doing enough.” Love is enough.
Today’s instruction was to take a few moments of silence first thing in the morning and to hold space for yourself. Mornings are hectic here. Usually I hit the ground running, often waking up with one or more children in my bed. But there is also this. Noah’s Molly Bear – weighing the same amount he weighed. I spent a few moments just sitting and holding Noah’s bear. Even in our hectic mornings, he is there.
I am not a morning person. Anyone who knows me knows that is an understatement. But once a year I set my alarm, earlier than I need to, to capture the sunrise. I do it for Noah. Once a year, October arrives, and with it, memories of a little boy whose stay was far too short.
This sunrise was grey. It has been raining for days and clouds hover. I am feeling grey – run down, worn out. As fall has started with Kindergarten and preschool, 2 sets of teachers, needs, adjustments, and friends – I wonder. How would I do this with three? What would life look like if he were alive? I can barely keep my head above water with two needs pulling at me. I watch a family with three living boys and think “that should be me” and “could I have done that?”
I’d like to think in another world I am. In another world they all exist. I know there would be enough love to go around.
One person’s day of joy, is another’s day of grief. Today is Owen’s 6th birthday. For one friend, it is also the 7th anniversary of the sudden death of her brother. For another it is her daughter’s 2nd stillbirthday.
Joy and grief are not comfortable bedfellows. Noah’s birthday is the same day as a friend of Owen’s. I try to hold space for both, and to allow them to coexist in the same day. But I feel for everyone whose day of grief is another’s day of joy.
There was a sudden downpour yesterday that led to this beautiful sight out our back window.
A double rainbow. One strong, one hazy. It felt like a metaphor. We have our rainbow. Sam is here, strong and vibrant. He can light up a room with his laugh and wants so much to do it all.
But I have a wish. Another. It’s hazy. Now is not the time, we have too much going on with all of Sam’s medical issues and delays. We need a rest. And Owen is going off to kindergarten in the fall. There is no good time to be on months of bedrest. To have a newborn and the sleep deprivation and whirlwind that comes with a tiny person’s needs.
I have said we are done. I think it’s true. Dan is done. But I see this and I can’t help but think about how much I’ve never stopped wishing that it was different.
When I was pregnant with Sam I couldn’t look beyond the next day or week. Imagining him out and alive seemed like such a huge assumption. Tempting fate. I couldn’t let my self think of a future. The hope was too scary and the alternative too crushing. So I never saw him as “the last.” The last pregnancy, last newborn, last baby. So I struggle to retroactively apply that. He is the bright and vibrant rainbow. I just didn’t know there wouldn’t be a pot of gold at the end.
Saturday was the 3rd anniversary of Noah’s due date. We didn’t do much. It was a busy day, and a holiday (Purim) to boot. I wore a hot air balloon skirt. We lit his candle. I wished a wistful happy birthday to a friend’s son whose second birthday was that day.
It’s been three years. It’s a due date, not a birthday. But it still hits me. This whole week I will suddenly catch my breath as my eyes fill with tears. Missing him still breaks me.