Just a few minutes ago I lit my first Chinese lantern. I wasn't certain if the 24 degree weather would let it rise. As I finally watched the lantern rise far into the sky, I privately and personally celebrated the brief life of what would be the second birthday of a beautiful red haired angel baby girl.... And also the anniversary of the loss of my friends grandson. Standing alone in the dark, I personally felt peace as I remembered where these two infants-- and others-- now reside. It's a real place!! I have prayed for these families to feel Gods comfort as they seek to continue to grieve forward. These two infants have affected so many people-- in part because of both of their mothers' desires to create change and help others. These are both amazing women.
Reflections on birthdays-- When a child comes into this world, we celebrate their birth and birthdays. When a child dies, their birthday is still precious. It is the life we celebrate and the memories. The memory of smiles and laughter and silliness are there every day... The whispers of their absence are also felt daily. Birthdays mark time--- the length of time away is getting longer.
Today is a beautiful baby's second birthday. This baby I've never met in life... When an infant's life is cut short, the birthday isn't easily celebrated. It brings up that often asked question- how do we celebrate the birthday of our child when our child has died?
I will tell you that it has been challenging over the years. With each of my children's birthdays, I reflect on the day that they were born. I remember when my water broke and the labor process. I remember their first cries. I remember this for each individual child.
When a child dies, sadly, their death overshadows the day that we brought them life... That wonderful joyous day that we captured in photos and videos... And sent birth announcements. This joy can't be felt because of the physical and the emotional pain of their absence.
The birthday fills us with regrets... My friend who lost her infant daughter during birth to a genetic disorder has thought of what she could have done to prevent this genetic malformation. Regrets and questions. My friend whose daughter died on her five month birthday because of a mitochondrial disorder has these same thoughts as well. Whether you had the knowledge of impending death in the ICU at Riley, or if your child died due to horrific situational reasons, it is still impossible to fully celebrate their life when they didn't have the chance to be here with us for very long.
I remember browsing the sympathy card aisle at hallmark looking for cards appropriate for an infants death and reading "be thankful for the memories". It seemed that so many cards said this and kinda made me angry. Not at hallmark, but at life. I left there and had a little sad crying session for my friend who didn't have these memories. The whole thing was unjust. It made no sense. Babies and children are not supposed to die. All of this is soooo very true.
So back to the sweet baby who I only met after her death... I've heard her infectious giggle via a recording and I'm thankful to have it saved on my phone/computer. I've looked at the healthy little cheeks in photos and the smiles that she had with her sister. I've looked at the photos of a family with a mommy and a daddy and a big sister filled with smiles... I honor this family as they have tried so very hard to redefine normal in the midst of this tragedy. Her family has chosen to celebrate her birthday by releasing balloons or Chinese lanterns. This precious life that had far too few memories because of the short time in which she was here-- needs to be remembered. My prayer is that one day the pain of the "what might have beens" will not be so intense.
"I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable." -- Anne Morrow Lindbergh
God bless each and every one of you mamas, daddies, siblings, and families as you continue to put your feet on the floor and redefine normal.... As we DAILY remember our children who have had their earthly lives cut short. Hugs...
Note: If you have lost a child due to SIDS, you may find comfort in Mason's Cause. Mason is my friends grandson. Www.masonscause.org.
Hugs to each of you!