I used to hate when people would say, “time heals all wounds.” It sounded so callous. That if I just waited, all the terrible pain of losing my child would just somehow disappear. That I could miraculously forget about the piece of my life now missing. The 38 weeks of gestation and the 8 short weeks on earth would slowly dissolve from my memory and magically be replaced by peace.
It’s been almost six months and I can say without fail, that time does heal. For a long time, I almost didn’t want to get “better” or get “over” things. I thought it would mean that I loved Alex less, or that people would judge me as a mother, or as a person. I now realize that I loved Alex more than I ever realized, and that finding joy in his life in Heaven makes me a better mother and person than I could ever hope for. Sad for me, but so wondrous for him.
We had holiday pictures taken and I’m not sure how we are addressing Alex as a part of our family. He’s still present and so much a part of who we are now… how can we share and explain that on a short Christmas card? Is it possible that there is someone, anyone on that Christmas card list that didn’t know, doesn’t realize that Alex is no longer with us? Is it weird to keep him as a part of the family to outsiders who don’t understand the pain of loss, or how comforting his presence can be? It’s complicated.
We obviously can’t take a family portrait with Alex anymore. I thought about displaying his picture in the background, but it seemed cold to just paint him in the background, as if he were only in the periphery of our lives now. I tried to have little reminders of him in the picture. Christmas tree ornaments that were made for him, bearing his name, to show that he was still part of our family tree. None of it really worked out. We are a family of three on earth, and people will have to use their imaginations to see that second child’s shadows, present in our hearts.
I’m not really a person who worries a lot about what other people think. I don’t fixate on what to wear, how to do my hair, or finding that perfect shoe to match the dress I painstakingly picked out. I am distinctive in who I am, what I am, and what I like. I don’t necessarily need the blessing or approval of others to validate my choices.
Things with Alex are different. I feel like something so terrible happening to our family has suddenly made my normal, unremarkable life very public. A tragedy like ours has thrust our family into the spotlight, at least in our small circles. We’re not just Ben and Tammylynne anymore. We are the parents who lost their Baby Alex. Because of that, I feel a little more under the microscope, and a little bit more on display.
Maybe that’s why I haven’t been writing as much. I feel like things are going better, and I’m not sure if that’s “okay” in the eyes of the world. I still miss Alex and wish he were here, but I have accepted what has happened, and our family has adjusted. We didn’t choose what happened, but we have found a way to get through everything- for better or for worse.
I think I started this blog to share the pain of losing Alex, to talk about things I couldn’t say in person and to let other parents out there know, that they weren’t alone. When things were sad, I thought others could take comfort in that. Now that there is more joy for us, does that sound like bragging to all those parents out there still in the throes of grief? To the other parents I have met in this journey, am I betraying them by picking up the pieces of our loss, and (gulp) moving on?
I had trust and faith in God that we would have a happy ending to our story- I didn’t think it would happen so soon. I am grateful for the joy in our lives, and a little sheepish. We were so sad mere months ago, and now we are… okay.
I have beautiful reminders of Alex throughout my life. I have his pictures everywhere, in frames, on my phone, in my heart. I have his beautiful tree which is the focal point of our backyard, and visible from almost any window in the house. I have a son that mentions Baby Alex randomly throughout the week, in ways that make me grateful that Alex is still present in our lives.
So I hope that I am sharing a story of hope and peace that brings comfort to those who are still hurting. Life does go on, complicated or not.