I got the greatest gift (again) this year. Baby Reid is the light living in my life. He warms my heart with his sweet smile, his pure temperament, his loving need to be close to his mama. My heart is full with love for and from him, such a beautiful gift in our life. This year feels so different than last and I know it's because of him.
I miss Ruthie Lou so much and feeling the joy for him also feels the continuous presence of loss. People have commented on how it must be easier now that Reid is here. I don't even try to explain to them, how could I? Easier? As far as Ruthie Lou is concerned, it is not Reid's job to heal us. I don't know that losing part of your heart ever gets EASIER. It feels different, it feels more distant at times but I don't think it gets easier. My heart still aches for her every single day.
As I put Reid's ornaments on the tree and I can see the radiating love and joy in his pictures, it makes me long to have a "baby's first Christmas" ornament for Ruthie Lou, too. Her ornaments hung on the tree, beautiful pictures of her peacefully sleeping, I wish we had her here with us, ornaments hung next to the boisterous Reid.
It's an odd thing to carry such conflicting emotions of joy and pain, I hold them together, light and dark. I focus on the moment as much as possible, only allowing the heartache to sit sideline to the beauty that is here now, the love we are able to give and receive from our boy. I have to remind myself that this is what Ruthie Lou would want for us. She was and is so full of unselfish love, she brought so much love into my heart, love I never knew existed. I am better because of her, a better mama to Reid, wife to Chris, friend and family member. She made me who I am now and for that I am so grateful. She did such a big job in such little time, I owe it to her to make it worthwhile, to live lovingly and thoughtfully each day, not only Christmas, so that her life is not in vain. I live for her. I live for Reid now, too.
Today, I will stay present. This life is a gift. Ruthie Lou, Reid are such gifts to Chris and me. This is not what we would have chosen, if we had a choice in this life but we must have chosen this at some point. I trust that this life is beautiful, I believe in the magic that surrounds us, I have to. I would be a crazy lady if not. I would probably not be here still if not. Instead, I believe. I believe in miracles, the miracle that Ruthie Lou was to us, her strong fighting body carrying her to us, showing us the love and light of this life and leaving as quick as she came. Her presence showing us that love is eternal and lives beyond this life. And Reid. Showing us that love and light can still exist in this world in the midst of pain and loss, too.
Merry Christmas my sweet babies. I imagine you know one another and will forever be connected in ways that we'll never know. Today, I celebrate our love for both of you.. Each smile for Reid is doubled because I am also smiling for you, Ruthie Lou.
I had anxiety the other night, in fact I have had anxiety for several days without knowing why. Then it hit me, the holiday cards. How do I sign our holiday cards? What do I write for our family?
The Lands Family? I could write our names as a whole and not acknowledge our names individually, that would sum is up.
Chris, Amie, Ruthie Lou, Reid? I could include ALL our names, this IS my family.
Chris, Amie, Reid? I could write our three names because that's who remains living.
I had anxiety nearly a week thinking about the damn holiday cards, the ones I wish Ruthie Lou were pictured with us...more than just a ladybug. I went with my heart, I went with what felt right. Chris, Amie, Ruthie Lou, Reid. THIS is my family, will forever be my family. Including Ruthie Lou's name does not mean I am pretending she's alive, I am not trying to "force" her on anyone but when I think of my family, we are a family of four. I could never NOT include her name. And just as all parents write their children's name on behalf of them on their holiday (or whatever) cards, I will do the same. I am writing on behalf of Reid and on behalf of Ruthie Lou, my children.
The next morning I woke up anxiety dissipated, having made a decision only to see the news: Sandy Hook Elementary. I am a teacher. I am responsible for the safety of almost 30 students, other people's children every single day. I am a parent, a parent whose first child passed away. The anxiety returned. I cannot watch the news, I cannot speak of the horrendous acts bestowed by a very very sick man. I cannot feel the pain of those families, because I know it all too well. I feel it every day and it's terrifying.
My heart aches and aches and aches for them. My first thought was that those poor families had no notice that their morning good bye would be their last. They were not holding their child as they died. I hate to think that we were given blessings in Ruthie Lou's death but I would be lying if I said we were. We KNEW she would die, we were given three weeks notice. We KNEW to treasure and value each moment, each milestone, each day we woke to see her beautiful face. And we held her as she left her earthly body. My biggest fear in her death was that it would be in her sleep. Many of us think we would want for ourselves, but not for my child. I wanted her to feel the safety, the love and our warmth, that she was not alone and we were not afraid to be there for her in every moment of her life as well as the moment we were expected to release her to the next place, after this life. This choice was stolen for the Sandy Hook parents. The thoughts of those children crying for their parents haunts me.
I could not decide how to write our names on a holiday card hours before TWENTY + PARENTS joined the worst club of all. The Child Loss Parent Club. Nobody wants to be part of this club, especially those of us here. I cannot think of this tragedy too long, it is too real and too heavy for my brain, too new still and brings up too much (as I'm sure many parents feel the same about our family). Even when you have lost your own child, you still don't want to imagine it for anyone else because there is nothing worse to imagine in this life.
Every year, those parents will have to decide how to sign a damn holiday card;
Will I offend anyone?
Am I pretending she (he) is alive?
Am I grieving "correctly"?
Are people judging me?
I hate this club. My heart is broken. Again.
This is the first time in three years that we've celebrated dad's (Chris's 33rd) birthday, the first of many years to come, I hope. Last year, we were mourning Ruthie Lou, therefore no birthdays were spoke of and the year before, our miscarriage, heartbroken, not knowing Ruthie Lou had just been conceived. She was there, but not known of yet. Today was a sweet day, for Chris too, I hope. We didn't celebrate my birthday too much, our hearts too heavy with grief, although we did try and succeeded, having a heart warming day. Today felt so much lighter, good, even. I gave gifts from Reid and Ruthie Lou, as mamas do; slippers, a Pinterest idea of a canvas photo, and sift cupcakes, like we do. I even got him a soccer game for his Xbox that's been sitting in the garage untouched, hoping for some lighthearted fun on a day that's been dread the last two years, a day to be happy. It worked, I think.
In the midst of that while Chris was at the gym, preparing his heart, mind and body for his day, my parents came by. They held Reid while I sewed and dad shared the sweetest story of grandma Ruth, which could have been the words of our sweet Ruthie Lou, perhaps they were. When my aunts, uncles and dad were young they begged for a pool. Upon receiving their greatest desire, the men came and built their pool, complete with tile edges. As they paid the last installment, when gram handed the check, the worker said they would be back to correct a tile that was misplaced, so the pool would be perfect. Gram said, "Oh no, you won't. If you did, the pool would be perfect and NOTHING in life is perfect." So they didn't. And NOTHING in life IS perfect, yet life is still beautiful. Even amongst heartache, loss and sadness, beauty remains and loving stories reminding us of our sweetest girl & the gram we love so much touch us still. On a day that we could use some extra love, it was provided.
I am mama of three beautiful babes; two sons whom I have the privilege of raising and my daughter who lived for 33 sacred days.