On Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, we honored the sixth anniversary of our first miscarriage. The first child of our hearts, the first one who went straight to heaven with no stops in between, to be joined two years later by a sibling.
The heart and psyche are a puzzling pair. My subconscious is inextricably tied to the tangible; even if I paid no attention to the calendar, my spirit would remind me when this anniversary arrives. In fact, this most often happens. I find myself struggling under a dark cloud, a melancholy countenance, and when I stop to think why, I find the answer.
My heart knows.
Robb and I began the process of helping the boys to know there are four children in our family. At breakfast, I forged the waters. "Guys, do you remember how you were born?"
Tuck nodded. "Yes, we grew in your tummy, and then we came out."
I said, "Yes, you both did. And there are two other babies who grew in my tummy, but they died before they were born. They went straight to heaven."
Tucker said, "Maybe they are living in our new house."
(We have taught them that God is preparing a place for us, a house for us in heaven. They talk often about the heavenly home they hope for.)
Tyler said, "I bet God made them whole."
(Yes, I do believe both are true.)
Late in the afternoon, after my heart had spent a day remembering, I bought two balloons. No gender specific colors, since I don't want to create truths we cannot be sure of. I chose lime green and orange. We would choose a sunny spot, launch our balloons, and watch them float into the sky. I wanted to talk to the boys about the symbol, take pictures with my camera or with my mind, and I wanted to let myself remember. We would create a tradition to help them understand and know.
But when the moment came, Tyler opened the back door and simply let his balloon go. He let it go, because he is three. And he does not understand or know. But I was sad, because the launch and the memory and the moment didn't happen the way I had planned. I wasn't there fast enough. I didn't watch it float away. I didn't grab the string and hold on tight, to keep it for just a little longer. It didn't happen the way I wanted it to.
(Much like the pregnancy it symbolized.)
Robb recognized the magnitude of the mistake, the gravity of the moment, of unmet expectations and a moment lost. Instantly, he said, "It's okay. It wasn't your fault. We'll get a new one. We'll get another one. We can fix this."
(In the heart of our loss, he whispered those same things to me.)
Tyler watched and waited, unsure of what went wrong, unsure of what might happen next. In Robb's fatherly wisdom, he said, "How 'bout you go hold Tyler? I think you both need that."
I gathered my boy. I gathered my heart. I slowed down.
I remembered that Tyler is life. That I should not sacrifice his heart on the altar of remembering. I needed to love him, hold him, capture him, and not give greater worth to a lime green balloon that was merely a symbol in the first place. A symbol that I had given too much worth.
Yes, the anniversary was important, and the grief of my heart deserved attention. But I also had a darling three-year-old and a handsome five-year-old, with life, breath, freckles, and charm, who needed me to love them well.
To remember life.
We watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, my boys and me - Tucker splayed across the carpet and Tyler nestled in my arms - and we didn't move.
Except to breathe each other in.
Lord, thank you for knowing all of my children.
Thank you for gathering me, for slowing me down, for reminding me.
Thank you for my Tucker and my Tyler, the precious life in my days and joy in my heart.
Thank you that we do not grieve as those who have no hope.