Sunday, February 13, 2011

Thoughts on Love and Loss

Dear Luke,

I find that most of the time I am now able to think of you and smile. I love the memory of you. I feel such hope that I will see you again some day. I feel you near and know that you have changed me for the better. Your life and memory follow me where ever I go. It's difficult to feel too sad over your loss when I feel that you aren't lost at all, but somewhere very close to me.

But there are times when even my faith, no matter how strong, seems to fail me.

Today at church I was helping in nursery (with the children under 3) mostly because Sam wouldn't let me out of his sight. I began talking to a dad in our ward and he started asking about you. He wanted to know if you had been alive or not when you were born.

This, to me, is a touchy subject. I know what their thoughts are, because I know I thought it before it happened to me. They are thinking that we are lucky to have never known you, for that makes it not so painful to lose you. They are thinking that at least we didn't bond with you. Of course they think these things, no matter how wrong these thoughts are. They aren't insensitive, they just don't understand. And how could they, they haven't had to experience it.

But the truth is, we did know you. We did bond with you in a very dramatic way. And it IS painful.

When we found out you were gone, just a day after hearing your heart beating so strongly at a routine doctor's appointment, we were terrified for your arrival. I didn't want it all to be over. Once you were born all hopes of seeing you pink and healthy would vanish. But there was a much bigger fear on my mind - what if I didn't love you? After all, you were gone. I didn't know if it was even possible to love someone whom I had never seen in the flesh and was now dead.

My fear was all in vain. Of course I loved you. I still love you. It didn't matter that you were born sleeping. The minute I laid eyes on you, I was madly in love. You were so handsome! You looked just like Halle and Sam. I giggled at the scratch on your nose, scabbed over, proof that you had been living, for you had scratched yourself while wildly moving around inside me.

It does not matter what condition the human body is in, a parent's love goes much deeper than all of that. It would not have mattered whether you were big or little, a boy or a girl, alive or dead. You are mine, something that even death cannot take from me.

In my opinion, having you be born sleeping did not make it easier to lose you. In fact, there are times when I wish it had been different. I know you had to go, but I wish I could have seen you take one little breathe, watch you move those little legs that kicked me so happily on a daily basis, or feel your warm skin on my lips. I remember that horrible feeling of your cold skin. I remember trying desperately to warm you up in the soft blue blanket that was swaddled around you. You were so cold! And then I began to bawl. You didn't feel the cold and nothing I did could warm you up. Nothing.

I wish I could have had just one small moment with you in this life. The pain of never getting that chance still hurts me deeply.

This dad I was talking to asked if I think it would be harder to lose one of my other children. Meaning one of my children that actually got to live. He was not meaning to be rude. He was aware that he had no understanding of my pain and he sincerely wanted to know my opinion. I looked him right in the eye and said very honestly "No, it wouldn't be harder to lose them."

I agree that losing my four- or two-year-old would be different than losing you. I have more memories with them. There are more reminders of them in our home. It would hurt to have so much of them constantly reminding me that they were gone. But in some ways, that is what I grieve so much about your loss. I have nothing. NOTHING. No living memories with you. Just a pregnancy, taken from me too soon, and 20 hours holding you in the hospital. We spent those hours desperately trying to fit a life-time of love into just one day.

I ache that I will have scrapbooks full of pictures and memorabilia of Halle and Sam, and yours will remain very small. A few pictures of my pregnancy, your birth, and a few moments captured on film when our family does something to honor your memory. I feel that so much was taken from me the day you died. I had your whole life planned out and I didn't get to see even one moment of it in action. No, it wouldn't be harder to lose Halle and Sam. Just different.

As I reflect on all of this, I realize that it isn't the amount of time we spend with our baby or the number of memories we hold so dear that determines how much we grieve after a loss, but rather the amount of love we felt. Because we love you with the same intensity that we do Halle and Sam, the grief is just as real. Just as poignant.

"Grief is the natural by-product of love. ...The only way to avoid the grief would be to not experience the love; and it is love that gives life its richness and meaning."
-Lance B. Wickman

I don't care what the circumstance is, I love you, Luke. I love you SO much! And nothing is ever going to change that. Here we are snuggling close. I remember closing my eyes, trying to soak every memory in - the way you smelled, the way you felt in my arms, and the way it felt to be your mommy. I feel so blessed to be your mommy - one of my greatest reasons to smile.

Love forever,

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