This morning, after dropping Brian off at "Camp Fun," I took Hope for her six month well check at the pediatrician. She is now 14 pounds, 15 ounces and 25 1/2 inches long.
She charmed Dr. Kienzle and he was so happy with her exam.
So why did I cry all the way home and for an hour afterward while she was napping?
For so many reasons.
I have experienced something so terrible - every parent's worst nightmare - something I would never, ever wish on any human being anywhere. The death of my child. There is really no "getting over" that. You don't really "move on" from it - you always bring it with you and never really stop mourning.
But there is one thing you can do... regardless of who or what you have lost (because, let's face it, we've all lost something we've loved along the way)...
You can leave a little light on.
I remember laying with Gavin in his last days.
I snuggled up next to his still body in his hospital bed and whispered in his ear. He was "gone" already - brain dead - but I knew he was "there." I knew he could hear us, see us. We pictured him bathed in golden light in that room - almost regal, and deservedly so. He was the light of our lives, after all.
I whispered in his ear that it was okay for him to let go - to follow his angel. I told him... promised him... that I wouldn't fall apart. I vowed to continue to honor him by being a good Mommy to Brian and the baby I knew I was carrying in that moment... who is now Hope. I promised I would not let the shadow of death put out my light. For him. For our family.
Whispering in your child's ear that you are okay with them leaving you is not natural - or easy. But it was necessary. I felt like Gavin needed to hear it. But it was really for me. I needed to believe it. I needed to remind myself that it was not for me to keep him here. It would have been selfish to force him to stay - even if I could. It's important, I think, to remember that our children are not our possessions. They are lent to us to love and raise and walk with on our individual journeys. But they are mostly sent to us as teachers. Gavin's journey abruptly ended on Earth - but it continues on. And I continue to learn from him in so many ways.
Leaving a little light on in my heart after his death has allowed beautiful things to happen. I'm able to enjoy our new baby girl. I'm able to laugh and play with Brian. I can love Ed even more because of this shared burden we carry. And that little light shines just enough on my path to keep me from tumbling down into past behaviors in a feeble attempt to numb any of this necessary pain.
Pain is necessary and should be felt so it can end... or at least dull. The pain will lessen if you let it come. The more you try to cover it up - the bigger it will grow.
So today, as I nursed Hope in the same chair that I rocked Gavin to sleep - I cried. I cried for the boy that I lost.
For the man who lost his son.
For the boy that lost a brother.
For the little girl who lost a chance to know Gavin.
And I cried tears of joy for the gift of light he left behind.
His light... and my light... will always be left on for the ones he left behind.
This video was sent to me by a reader about a month ago. I think I have watched it no less than 25 times since. It almost literally tells the story of our family... but each time I watch it, I feel a different message. Watch it. Whatever message you feel - that is the message meant just for you. Whatever it is you have to "let go" of or "move on" from - it will be okay. No matter how bad it is. Don't let anything turn off your light. And don't try to keep anyone else's from shining.