When I’m out and about with my son, he gets a lot of attention. He has red hair and a very engaging smile. I’m lucky. When strangers interact with him, I often get questions like “is he your first?” or “how many others do you have?” I struggle with this question each time, unsure of how to answer.
In the moments that linger before I respond, I inevitably encounter a whirlwind of thoughts. Should I tell them I have 2 sons who died? Should I tell them I only have this one child? Can they handle the truth? If I say I only have one, am I betraying my other two sons?
I take a risk. I say, “this is the first baby I brought home from the hospital, but he has two brothers in Heaven.” And then in an instant, I find myself comforting this stranger in the fallout of receiving my sad news. “But it’s ok,” I say. “That was a few years ago.” Then smiles and pleasantries are exchanged, and off we go. The conversation rolls around in my head for a few minutes. Are they affected? Can they possibly understand the gravity of the experience I summarized during our brief exchange?.
This are twin images I created to express my grief after my twin babies’ deaths.
No one can understand unless they have walked the same path. And yet, healing happens. Slowly, so slowly. But it happens. My husband and I took another leap of faith in the aftermath of our twins’ premature delivery, birth, and then death. We decided to travel to the Himalayas of Nepal to sprinkle their ashes in one of the most spiritual places on Earth. This is a reflection of that time in our lives:
Our life has been unpredictable. It has felt out of my control at many recent times which is something that truly terrifies me. The dream of children has stretched out around us over the past 6 years through infertility, IVF, miscarriage, chemical pregnancy, and the deaths of our beautiful babies. And although we are not parenting, I knew a mother’s love the moment they were born. When you look heartache and the realization of shattered dreams in the face it changes you. One thing remains true. When I stand at the edge of the abyss not knowing what comes next, the understanding that my partner is next to me holding my hand, sharing the burden of my fear is the one true comfort that is always predictable. Now we are in this magical, spiritual land on a pilgrimage to feel closer to our babies. And they are here. I will never understand why they couldn’t stay. But I will always cherish the opportunities their departure has provided. We truly are blessed. Silver linings exist, friends are family too, and hope, hope, hope is real.
Hope is real. Love is real. And I am lucky.