We have five chairs at our dinner table. The sixth one is used as a desk chair in my bedroom. It has always been this way. Last week Adam noticed the empty chair. He was upset and said that somebody should be sitting there. He was adamant about it. He didn’t directly say Ruthie, he may not even have meant her, but Chris and I exchanged looks because he was right. Someone should be sitting there. And now that 5th chair feels sad to me. Or it feels like a direct statement. Or it is her being included at our table. Someone should be sitting there. Ruthie should be sitting there. Although in my heart of hearts, I don’t believe in “should”. I want her to be sitting there, but she isn’t. She won’t. She never will.
Then, yesterday we were on a bike ride and a dad cycling by had a babyseat on his bike. Adam said we needed a babyseat for Ruthie. I reminded him Ruthie wasn’t here and he said he knew that but that she needed a bike seat. Again, Chris and I exchanged looks. Of course she would have needed a bike seat. But she never got one. She never will.
Adam and Reid should have their sister. But they’ll never know her, not in the way they should. They will never meet her. They will always be “the boys”. I will always be a boy mom. But, not really. Because even though she isn’t here, she WAS here. She existed and she matters. I will always have a daughter. They will always have a sister.
Next weekend, on Mother’s Day, I will have two little boys stumble in my room to wake me, with handmade cards and sloppy hugs and kisses. It will be their day to celebrate me. But today, International Bereaved Mother’s Day is Ruthie Lou’s mothers day. It honors the motherhood that should be, the child I should be raising. It isn’t Hallmark approved, you won’t find cards for it in the grocery store, but it is a real thing-just as bereaved mother’s are REAL moms.
The chair that is empty, the bike seat that isn’t needed, the brothers who will never meet their sister-these moments exist over and over in our lifetime because Ruthie was not given life. But she was real and continues to be loved, missed, and included in our family of five forever. So today we acknowledge and honor the very real mothers of the very real children who are loved, missed and included forever.
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.