5/23/2015 - Eleven months in heaven
Here we are, just a month before your first birthday in heaven. There were many times during the early days after you were born when reaching a year of grief seemed like an impossibility - how could we get through that much sadness, all those milestones and months without you. But here we are, and it's crept up on me in these final weeks of your little sister's pregnancy. I feel unprepared and unsure of how to celebrate you and desperately miss you at the same time. Your first birthday falls right in the middle of the week that baby sister will be arriving. We didn't necessarily plan it or want it that way, but that is how it has worked out. Navigating the joy of meeting her, and the pain of missing you and wishing you were blowing out your first candle... all in the same week.
Our days are pretty normal, almost a year after you were born. The fact that you lived and died far too soon is integrated into our lives, it's part of our story... not so shocking and jarring and all-consuming as it was in the beginning. But there will always be moments of shock and disbelief. One afternoon not long ago I feel asleep on the couch during Judah's nap, and my mind was in that sort of twilight between sleeping and waking. I thought of you and your birth and death and was in a state of total shock once again - did that really happen? Did I really give birth to you, my perfect but not breathing son? How? Why?
One of the hard things, which happens often, are the questions that all mothers are asked. Is this your first baby? How many children do you have? How old are they?... I get the "Is this your first baby?" question whenever I go anywhere without Judah. I say "No, actually it's my third" and kind of hope the questions stop there. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. Recently I was picking up our take-out order at a little Chinese restaurant, and a sweet older Chinese lady continued the questions... How old are your children? Boys or girls? And what is the baby? ... I smiled and said "My oldest boy is three, my second boy would be almost one, and the baby is a girl, due very soon". She didn't pick up on the "would be" and it was way for me to include all my children without raising more questions. And it made me feel like a normal mom, including you in the list. It's a hard thing to navigate though, how much to say so that I feel like I'm being true to myself and honoring you... and how much to not say to avoid the inevitible pain and unwanted comments.
Perhaps harder, though, is when people just innocently assume that baby girl is my second baby, and there is no easy or appropriate way to correct them. Or when someone confuses Judah by asking "Are you having a baby brother or a baby sister?" because in his mind, he has both. And he does. He often answers baby brother, even though he knows we're having a little girl... I think to protect your memory. He understands that baby sister is a different baby. It's just hard for him to grasp that you are not here with us. He asks frequently if baby sister is going to live in heaven when she is born, to which we tell him "We hope that baby sister is going to come home and grow up with us!". He also often says things like "I miss baby Theodore. I wish I could play with him. He would like my firetrucks! He plays firetrucks in heaven with Jesus. Can we go see him there? Why did he have to go to heaven?" ... Oh, how I wish I could watch the two of you play firetrucks. I'm just so sad that you two will never get to be brothers on this earth.
We recently got a little red wagon and took Judah for a walk in it. Everytime I looked back to check on him, I wished you were strapped into the other little seat. I bet you would just have loved it, sitting like a big boy with your big brother. I know you are having so much more fun than we could ever imagine in heaven, but I still long for you to be here on earth having fun with us. I want to watch you figure out how to blow out a candle, and make a complete mess of your first cupcake, just like Judah did.
I miss you, little Theodore. This month I will work on your special wall in our room... full of your pictures and poems, your teddy bears, things that remind us of you. I want to have it all set up by your birthday. With baby sister coming and all the busyness of the next couple of weeks and months, I want you to have your own little spot. I'm not sure yet what we will do on your birthday, I know it will be in the middle of a crazy week... but I want to make space for celebrating all that you are in our family. Judah said recently "We should have a cake for baby Theodore's birthday!" - so we will definitely be having cake. Not an hour goes by that I don't think of you, not a second that you aren't carried close to my heart.
We love you, our little almost-one-year-old Theodore. One year in heaven for you, one year on earth for us - as opposite as it could possibly be. I'm glad you're the one in heaven with Jesus, wanting for nothing. A parent always wants the best for their child, and you have the very best.
Love, Momma, Papa, Judah, and baby sister