Mommy, where’s your baby?

“Mommy, where’s your baby?” asked Milo as we came to Brittany’s house to pick up our children that night. I could barely stand as it was, and that question caused nausea to roil in the pit of my stomach. How do I help them understand when I don’t understand?

“Mommy, where’s my baby?” asked Milo the next morning.

How do you tell your son that his brother died and is never coming back in a way a three year old can understand? It was unreal, even to us. Milo and Lily had held their still brother, but Milo could not comprehend the permanence, and Lily barely could.

My first thought was to say his heart and soul left his body, but to a three year old who sees the world in black and white, how can a heart leave your body?

I placed him on the counter in front of me and looked into his eyes and said Silas’ spirit, the part of him that makes up the things he loves and the things that make him sad or happy, left his body and flew to heaven to be with Jesus.  Something made him too sick and his heart could not keep beating to keep him alive.

I explained the same to Lily when she woke to a home filled with grief. Lily had fewer questions than Milo. She often draws pictures of Silas and listens to songs that remind her of him. She cries, yet Milo doesn’t. They have different levels of understanding. I believe they will reach new layers of grief through the years as they begin to understand the reality of death.

Milo asked me these questions about his brother over and over and over. My heart breaks over and over and over with my own sadness and with the sadness of my children.  Now Milo says, “I want my brother, Silas. But he died. I miss him. I’m so, so sad.”

My children often ask me, “Are you so, so, so, so, so, so sad about Silas?” I tell them I am so sad, but I’m so happy they’re here with me. Now, whenever they ask me that question, they say, “But you’re so, so happy I’m here with you?” I’m glad they know what’s in my heart.  It must be so confusing for them to understand how I love all of my children equally when I cry for one child who’s missed beyond belief.  Whenever I tell them I love them, Lily says, “And you love SySy up in heaven?”  He’s always included in everything they think, say, and do.  ❤

How do you explain heaven to a three year old?  …to a five year old?

Heaven is better than the toy store, better than the swimming pool, better than Chuck E. Cheese’s, better than Disney World.  Silas is with God and Jesus. He’s with Grandma Shirley and she loves him so much and covers him in kisses. He’s with MeeMee and PaPa. He’s with all of our loved ones who’ve died and gone to heaven before him.

But, even though he’s in all that glory, we still wish he were here.

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Moving Forward

I often think of what I want my life to look like as I move forward. Even though it seemed as if my life could have ended the day my baby died, there really is no direction other than forward, and I want to be ready to step in that direction for my children, for my husband, for myself. But, it feels differently than it used to feel.

I think about having another child, growing our family to a family of six the way I pictured it to be, and now, having experienced the worst loss imaginable, it doesn’t seem like we have just have a chance of risks that could affect anyone. All of the many risks seem way too real now that we have lived it. Miscarriage. Stillbirth. Infant loss. Childbirth complications. Sometimes I want to say to God, I’ve experienced the worst loss imaginable, please don’t give me another baby only to take my child away again–at any stage of his or her life…

And thus begins my bargaining…

Since this tragedy has happened to me, I should be immune to such possibilities in the future, because the trials in life should work like vaccines are intended to work. I want to tell God, I could never handle it if in the future I would become pregnant and it should end sadly.

But, He knows this, and He has promised to be there and catch me when I fall to pieces. I KNOW this is true…it happened to me on August 8, 2013. I am reassured that He will bring me through whatever comes my way, for He has, and He is, and He will. Because of that reassurance, I will not tell God the things which I am capable of bearing.  I do not want to make choices in my life, choices based in fear, to try to shield our family from this tragedy ever occurring again, for if I did I would sever the opportunity for great blessings to come.

I am grateful that in my upbringing, I was given a good religious foundation, but I would not say my faith was concrete until the day my still son was placed in my arms and I was filled with pain and devastation seemingly powerful enough to cause my heart to disintegrate. God caught the pieces as my heart shattered, and I had not yet had the clarity of thought to ask Him for help.  God chooses the most unlikely hearts to witness of His love, for I always thought I would be the most bitter person in the world if I lost a child.

Since losing my Silas my heart has felt that nothing ugly and bitter could come from loving one so precious. In the anguish and sorrow, I have known and understood how blessed I have been by being Silas’ mother. Being able to see the blessings when consumed with grief is a gift.

Moving forward I choose to trust.

I choose to hope.

I choose to open my heart to the possibility of more love.

I choose to not let fear control my actions.

Though, it scares me to think I could fall from a broken emotional state, whereas before, I was more emotionally whole. I move forward while daily handing my fears and struggles over to the Lord for He is willing to bear them, and He is so much more capable than I.

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A difficult day

I woke in the early AM hours after a crazy dream I cannot remember. As I was thinking while I couldn’t fall back to sleep, I remembered back to 5 months ago. In the early AM hours of the night on August 8th, Silas cried for about 4 minutes as if he were were in pain.

Christopher even woke, and we turned on the light to check him all over because he wasn’t calming in my arms or attempting to eat.

Then he quieted, but didn’t want to nurse, which struck me as strange, but I wondered if he had tired from crying. I thought I would wait to see if he would eat in another hour to decide if I needed to call the doctor, and he did eat when he woke the next hour.

Of course, this memory brought back the guilt of not knowing something was going so terribly wrong. I felt regret that I didn’t take him to the hospital that night. Maybe there would’ve been a chance the doctors could’ve figured out what was happening.

But, how many times have my older children done that as babies? It seemed like those “strange-normal” things babies do. How was I to know that I would leave the pediatrician’s office that afternoon without my beloved son?

How cruel to wake in the middle of the night to be taken back 5 painful months, to feel full of regret over something that cannot be changed and couldn’t have been prevented. I can’t help wishing we could have prevented his death, and I will never stop wishing that.

This morning, after Lily got on the bus, Milo and I set out to run some errands. I should NEVER go to any grocery store during the daytime on the 8th of any month, because every time I turned around, there was a mother with a baby in an infant carrier.

I couldn’t help but think, “That should be me with my baby in my cart.” But, it isn’t.

Most of the time I think it “could have” turned out differently. It is so hard to feel something “should have” been a certain way when it obviously wasn’t, otherwise it “would have” been. I can’t say that this was how life was meant to be, because no mother could ever conceive such a thought.

And yet, here I am. Life didn’t turn out in the way I intended. How do I grapple with the thought that this was how it was meant to be? I don’t.  I just accept that this is the way it is.

Because this is the way in which my life has gone, I will do my best to continue the beauty my son brought to my life.

edit photoSilas,
I don’t know how to live this life without you, but somehow, life keeps going and my heart keeps beating. So, I let it pull me forward while I am too weak, and when I am stronger, I will bravely step forward, because I am not living without you, for I carry you in my heart, and the profound love I have for you fills each beat of my heart.

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Strange New Year

The feelings surrounding this new year are different for me. Normally, I welcome the fresh start and plan the resolutions I will ultimately fail. The newness usually brings freshness and rejuvenation to my soul.

This year feels desolate. I look ahead and see a lonely stretch of highway with many empty markers never to be filled. It is a painful road with stops along the way that will heighten the emptiness of my arms. Silas will never begin crawling, walking, or talking. His birthday will come and he will not be here. We won’t get to watch his siblings teach him how to open presents or how to blow out his candle. I dread the ache and pain, and the anticipation of those feelings often creates numbness in hopes that I can avoid some of the pain. But, it will hurt…

The anticipation of a new year is different when you are looking forward to the good things that could happen, rather than when you know that the road ahead is bittersweet, painful, and lonely. But, I still can’t help but anticipate that something good will come from this year, for I cannot say that 2013 was only filled with pain. 2013, after all, was filled with great joy when it brought me my Silas, and I would never change having had him to avoid the pain. He is a part of me.

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In spite of all of the sadness, the upcoming year also feels hopeful. Since the loss of my son, I have learned I am a very hopeful person, in spite of the terrible loss that rocked my world. Such loss could cause one to lose all hope in this life, and before this happened, I thought it would do that to me, but I find hope in my children and hope that there will be more to love in the future.

This year, I hope to create a good life for Lily and Milo. The things I wish I could do for Silas will translate into things I can do for them. They will be loved with enough love for each of their little souls, plus the love of their brother that inspires me to do my best as their mother. Where would I be without my three children? Even though living this life with two children in my arms while one is in my heart was never part of my plan, each one has blessed my life, and always will.

2014, I have hope in you.