Friday, October 15, 2010

Remembering Eli

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I entitled this post identically to last year's  (which you should read, because it's more in line with this day than my ramble this evening), because for me, that's what this day is. Remembering Eli. Remembering my son. Remembering myself and my family before we were touched by loss for the first time. 

I will be the last person to ever say that I understand why these things happen. In fact, I firmly believe that no babies should die, that no pregnancy should end before it's time, that no parent should ever have to hold their dead child and pray for them to take a breath, to will their heart to beat. It's wrong, and it's terrible, and it's sad, and I cannot stand that we live in a fallen world where these things happen. 

Many people separate their lives into "before marriage" and "after marriage" or maybe "before kids" or "after kids". My life is starkly separated into two eras: "Before Eli" and "After Eli". His death, like the beat of a butterfly wing, caused a ripple effect that changed my life. I am a different person than I was before his life and death. Beyond losing my six pound, six ounce, raven haired boy, I lost a part of myself. My family walked through a devastating valley, and we did not come out unscathed. We lost a son, my children lost a sibling, and eventually, I lost my husband.

Of course I do not blame Eli for my marriage failing. He is not any more responsible for that than he is for dying. But there is a reason so few couples make it through after a child dies. People grieve so differently. Death changes you. Suddenly you're doing things, saying things, you would never have done or said before. Your spouse is supposed to be the one who holds you up when you need it, but what if you both need held? Things fall through the cracks. Distance happens. Before you know it, you're married to a stranger. When something breaks inside you, it takes a lot of effort to put it back together, and if both parties aren't willing to work harder at marriage than anything else in their lives, then it just won't work. It seems easier to succumb, to give up on each other. Sometimes in my head the loss of my husband and my son, the most devastating losses I've been through, wind themselves together and I have a hard time separating them. They are the Sad Things, the things I wish I could somehow undo with a cosmic do over.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20, right? As depressing as that last paragraph was, this is not meant to be a depressing post or a depressing day. I had to say the sad stuff, because without the low, the high seems insignificant. But the truth is, today, October 15th, 2010, three and a half years after I lost my son and sixteen months after I lost my husband, I am happy. My children are happy. Despite all that's been thrown at us, we're healing. Maybe even thriving. Things are hard, and we struggle on many levels, but at the end of the day, all five of us end up curled up on the couch together and I can feel the comfort of a life well spent, and that's something. That's something big. 

I will always miss my son. I will always love Eli more than I can articulate, and it will be a long time before all the questions I have about him will be answered. But I wouldn't change a thing, take away one minute I had with him, even if it meant that my life would have gone differently. Those 35 weeks with him are precious to me, and the 5 hours I had to hold him after his birth will always be among my very favorite memories. 

As the years go by, I sometimes struggle with the difficulty of keeping his memory alive for my family and for others. So this day is very important to me...the day when I and all the other parents of children who died too soon can talk about them proudly, without fear of judgement. 

This is a good day. It's a day that recognizes my son. And in recognizing him, it feels almost like I get him back for a little while. 

Thanks for reading. 

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