Heart on my Sleeve

If Sam had been born as we’d expected, his name would be Jem and he’d be about seven months old.  This is about the time I had predicted I’d start enjoying my life as a mom of two.

Obviously, things turned out a bit differently than I had envisioned in those months of pregnancy.  And while I’d certainly never hope to lose a child again, I can see the ways that we are a stronger, more serious, more thoughtful family than we would have been otherwise.  Life moves on, you know, and I am enjoying my life as a mom of two; it’s getting normal to me to have my toddler underfoot and my baby in Heaven.

It is strange, though, that I have recent acquaintances  who don’t know our story.  My body is healed, the baby things are packed away; from the outside we look like a normal, happy  family of three.  And that is what seems weird: that one-fourth  of our family is so significant and yet so invisible.

The last picture of the four of us

I recently read a blog of a mom who tattooed of the name of her stillborn child on her wrist.  A car I’ve seen at church has little Christian fish on the back of their car to represent all the members of their family, including three little fish with halos.  At the root, I think it’s the same impulse that moves some people to put RIP stickers on their back windshields or to make screen printed t-shirts displaying a photo of a loved one.

None of these demonstrations is really my style, but I am more sympathetic to them than I used to be. Early on, a deep loss can feel like such a central part of your identity it seems necessary to make sure every one knows about it.  As life moves on, it feels important to prove to yourself, and maybe to others, that the loved one has not been forgotten.

I have considered for a long time about how to walk the balance between appropriate versus morbid degrees of remembrance in conversation and in family practice.  But whatever it ends up looking like from the outside, there’s no doubt Sam will always hold a piece of my heart.

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3 responses to “Heart on my Sleeve

  1. continuing to pray for you, Stephen and Abby. I never lost a child but I lost two grandbabies. My heart aches for you. Sending you lots of hugs and bunches of love:)

  2. “As life moves on, it feels important to prove to yourself, and maybe to others, that the loved one has not been forgotten.” – This is how the people around you who love you feel as well. Every time I see you, Stephen, or Abby I think of Baby Sam. Wondering how to balance between showing you we remember, and that we also know life goes on, is important. No one judges you for moving on or wallowing in your loss. We just want to be supportive on your good moments, and bad. 🙂

  3. We can imagine how difficult finding the balance is. I agree with Lindsay J’s post above too that I always think of you as a family of four but am not sure how to express it. Thank you for continuing to share your thoughts with everyone. You all are in our prayers.

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