Every year that we honor my son on his birthday, the grieving is different. I never know what to expect. Except the sadness, I always know the sadness will be there. I wanted to share his story with you this year, on his birthday. But I’ll be honest, I wasn’t ready. It was just too much. The day before his birthday, which is also the day we found out he was gone, is always hard for me. This year on the day before, I was a walking zombie of sadness. I called The Water Man from the store to tell him that I was so sad I could just lay on the floor.
He is use to these calls. My loved ones know about the November Waves and every November when I say I am sad, they all just nod in understanding. He softly told me not to lay on the Target floor and then quickly told an inappropriate joke to make me laugh. He’s good that way.
Every year he and I do a balloon release over the water to honor our son’s brief life, to celebrate him, to remember him. It’s an intimate tradition for the two of us that we have always done. All though the sadness fills many of the November days, there is always a prominent emotion that surfaces when we release the balloons. Some years, it is just the sadness, the first year, pregnant with his brother, it was gratitude and fear. One year I was terribly angry, I was shocked how angry I was. I never know until we get there what emotion will be prominent. This year it was regret.
I try really hard not to live with regret. You can’t change things and regret doesn’t help anything so feeling it leaves you frustrated and helpless. I would take a lot of other emotions over regret. But this year as we remembered our baby, I was filled with regret. I didn’t expect it, who would think I still have regrets about a day from 6 years ago. On a day I made choices while in shock. On a day when other people made most of the decisions for me because I was incapable.
I was warned when I got to the hospital that my son had been gone for a week or two and to be ready for him not to look good when I delivered. I didn’t know what that meant, one of the nurses advised me not to see him. I remember being very confused. Thankfully, the nurse there when I delivered assured me that he was perfect. Thankfully, my sister in law said she would look at him for me. She is honest and frank and I knew I could trust her to tell me the truth. She did. Just like the nurse said, he was perfect, just very small.
I don’t know what I was afraid of, I realize now he would have looked perfect to me no matter what. And he did, he was an angel. A tiny, precious angel. I held him and rocked him and kissed him and wept all over him. I don’t know how long this went on, but I know it wasn’t too long, because someone in the room told me I could hold him longer. I remember crying out that it didn’t matter, that it would never be enough. And it wasn’t. Last week I stood on that hill wishing I would have held him longer. And without knowing, my husband repeated my cry back to me, it would have never been long enough. And he was right.
We didn’t take any pictures of my son when he was born. My mom had her phone out at one point and I thought she was going to. I was so angry, I don’t know why. She wasn’t going to take his picture, but I wish she would have now. I don’t know why I wouldn’t consider taking photos of him then or what made me so mad. Maybe I was just trying to protect him somehow. Days later I asked the funeral home to and it was too late. Thankfully the nurse who was there did but you could tell it was later and not what I remember. I wish I had taken his photograph, right when he was born looking like the perfect angel that he was.
As I told my husband all my regrets last week, regrets he has heard before, he tried to comfort me by reminding me our son was turning 6 in heaven. I told him that I hoped he was wrong. I hope he is still my baby. I don’t know what heaven is like, but I do know he is in good company. I know there is much we do not understand about time so I hope it is standing still somewhere. I hope he will wait for me to celebrate his birthdays. I hope we can pick up where we left off 6 years ago. I hope he will be in my arms, so tiny and perfect and he’ll open his eyes. I hope to see him look up at me and smile. I hope I get his years back.
I realized something different this year. I thought the sadness was the only constant. What I have learned is that there is something else ever present when I think about my baby. Hope. Because I have hope in Jesus, I get to hope for my son because one day I will see him again. I may not know in what capacity, but I can have hope. The Lord is the difference between wishing and hope. I wasn’t sure if I would share this revelation, then yesterday in church my pastor read the Lord’s promise from 1 Thessalonians for those who have died in Christ rising first and I was reaffirmed and reminded to always share hope.
My hope is that by sharing these experiences with you, that you might find hope for yourself or share hope with someone else.
If you or someone you know is in need of professional photography for the loss of your baby, NILMDTS, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep is a beautiful organization dedicated to providing free remembrance photography for parents around the world suffering through the loss of a baby.