sea monkeys

Four Years Remembering You In This House

Dear Sebastian,

Last week, it was four years since your death and birth. As always, we love you to the heavens and back, and miss you all the time.

We have bought a new house. We will be moving to it at the end of the summer, and we are all really excited about it. Your brother is counting the days. Your sister, when we talk about it, always adds, “But, we’re gonna be in this house for a little bit longer… right?” She is excited, but she loves her familiar house too; it’s the only home they’ve known.

I am looking forward to having a new place to be, a more functional and welcoming space, in a new neighbourhood close to many good friends… but I’m sad sometimes, thinking about leaving our home. It’s the first house Daddy and I bought; it’s a home we shared with people we loved even before having children; it’s the place we brought two of our babies home to, and watched them grow; it’s the place we expected to bring you home to, and the place that sheltered us when we mourned you the most.

Thinking about you gives me the biggest pangs about moving away. After four years, it’s hard to feel close to you, but sometimes, especially on hot and humid summer days, time folds back to that July, and I welcome the sorrow that keeps you near. Somehow, you seem to be here in these walls.

Our bedroom is where I slept curled around you. It’s where I sang lullabies to our two-year-old E that I knew I was singing to you too. It’s where he would touch my round belly, full of you, and say, “That’s my brother.”

Our living room is where I sat combing through the baby book for your name. Weeks later, it’s where I inverted myself on the edge of the couch, in hopes of getting you to turn head-down. I can still feel the ache, when I think of it, of your head pressing against that spot on my side, and how that bump felt under my hand, with – unbeknownst to us – no fluid to cushion you.

Our doorstep is where I knelt, paralyzed with pain, dilating in time-lapse, just minutes before you were born. It is also where our dear friends left beautiful meals for us in the days that followed, with compassion and thoughtfulness that humble me even now.

Our backyard is where our family gathered around us on your birth day, filling the sandbox with sand for E, installing our picnic umbrella (all the things we hadn’t got around to while expecting you), bringing food and so much love.

Our kitchen is where I gingerly filled my bra with cool cabbage leaves for the soreness, and steeped sage tea to dry up the milk I wished I could give you. It’s where I went about daily chores of cooking and dishes, thinking about how our life was suddenly unhooked from its plans. It’s the room that filled with flowers from people sending their sympathy.

And this home is the place where your lullaby coalesced in my head, where I tinkered out the harmonies on my piano, and where I carefully recorded each track so that it would sound as I imagined it.

As much as it hurts to think of all that, I never wish for the pain to be gone. It’s my link to you.

I guess that’s why it feels like you’re here, and why it also kind of feels like leaving you behind.

On Wednesday, your daddy and I marked the four years since your death quietly in our minds, and with some extra-long hugs. It was a mostly normal day – I did dishes, helped and played with your siblings, refilled my spice jars, bought groceries, folded laundry, practiced with my dance sisters. Daddy worked hard making our house and yard look nice for when we sell it.

I’m grateful for all those day-to-day things that make up our life: we are an undeniably fortunate family, in so many ways, not the least of which is our freedom to be normal and do all those things. But normalcy can be hard work when you’re yearning to just curl up and indulge in the luxury of grieving for a day.

A strange thing also happened. We had received a notice to pick up an unexpected package:

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A sample box of formula, addressed to me, with my full name.

I had no idea what to make of it, couldn’t even decide if it was oddly suitable on that day, or wildly inappropriate. After all, I do keep your baby self in my heart, and always will; but the dreams mentioned on the box didn’t work out at all.

That evening, I finally had the chance to sit and remember you, and look at your scrapbook. I got all caught up in examining the perfection of your little nose, captured in the few pictures we have. I wish – so often – that I could see your face in person again, even for a moment.

The next day, your birthday, we spent some time at your Grammie and Papa’s house with your Auntie Beth, and I thankfully got to do some writing, and we went to pick berries at the berry farm. Ever since your first anniversary, when we ended up at the berry farm almost by chance, it has felt like the best thing to do on your birthday. Not quite a celebration… but an appreciation.

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I’ve also realized that, along with writing and berry-picking, certain songs help me at this time of year. I decided to put my favourite healing song to images for you (and for me). I think this song helps because it’s about pain and beauty, and how they are both inevitable.

It felt really good to spend some time looking at these images of our breathtaking planet. It reminded me that I can never leave you behind, because you are actually everywhere.

***

P.S. Please stay tuned for photo credits for this video – coming soon.


 

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Baby AB’s Fashion Blog – Issue #8: Ultra Lounge + BONUS Brother-Style

Wow, it’s a good thing there’s no shortage of baby fashion cuteness, because finding more than eight consecutive minutes to rub together (?) for a REAL blog post is, like, not happening these days. And blogging is like exercising for me – if I don’t do it for extended periods, guilt eats away at me. (Not because you, dear Di-hards, have ever been accusatory, but just because I can’t leave alone anything I start, and blogland is always waiting for more.) So these little posts are like doing a few squats or crunches every once in a while: they help to stave off the guilt.

Yes. I may have a few issues. But whatever. FASHION!

I picked a couple of comfy loungewear favourites for today (not loungewear as a euphemism for lingerie, by the by).

I call this one “Plouf!” (It means “Splash” in French.)

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Looks good with a splash of broccoli.
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See? I didn’t make this up, it actually says “plouf” for an unexplained reason.
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I paired the onesie with some comfy velour pants avec volant. (With a ruffle. Because, in case you didn’t know, girls have to have ruffles.) This pic is just an excuse to showcase baby toes.
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Care to catch up on your reading (of stuff pilfered from the recycling crate) whilst jolly jumping? “Plouf” is the perfect ensemble!

And I call this one “Adorable Distraction.” Because I’m hoping your eye will be irresistibly drawn to the ruffles, this time delineating the bum and arm contours (and forget to notice my messy living room).

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Totally comfy. Wish it came in my size.
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Ideal for a casual date with friends (chattin’ with Baby G at book club).
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Or just loungin’ with a snack.

And now I’m going to reveal the secret subtext. I’ve immensely amused myself by entitling this post “Ultra Lounge”, because:

I was once given as a gift a CD called “Ultra Lounge”. It’s authentic martini-lounge music and it’s kind of fabulous. You know it’s gonna be, because the case is actually covered in fuzzy leopard print. Naturally, E has always been attracted to this sumptuous CD case.

Then, once upon a time, Daddy asked E, “What kind of music would you like to listen to, buddy?” Of course, E picked the leopard-print music. Daddy, who was not precisely in the mood for Ultra Lounge, performed a sleight of hand with an album he felt like listening to, and said, “Oh! David Francey! Good choice.” (If you’re familiar with the brilliant folk singer David Francey, you know that it would be hard to find something LESS leopard-printy.)

E is also a big fan of Francey, especially the CD Daddy played that day (“Late Edition”). For months afterward, he would find that fuzzy, gaudy case and say earnestly, “Let’s listen to David Francey!” Even after we explained the truth, the connection between a Scots-Canadian folkster and animal-pattern velour had apparently been seared on his little synapses. It’s only recently he’s finally learned what the real “Late Edition” looks like, so now he will override whatever’s playing, whenever he wants, and replace it with good ol’ D.F.

Speaking of my lovely firstborn son… Here is a special photo of Baby AB’s Big Brother, sporting Toy Story and Chocolate Goatee Fashion.

e eating ice cream
Chocolate ice cream, with NO FOOD in it.

He will be four years old tomorrow. I’m amazed and thrilled and heartbroken. I mean, three sounds so little still… but FOUR. It’s big. Soon, he won’t even count as a preschooler anymore, because he will be in school. OH. I can’t even.

I love that crazy, aggravating, wonderful boy with all my mama-bear ferocity. It feels weird (and yet very common, I think) to be so happy that he gets to grow up, while also clinging to the babyhood that only fleetingly surfaces in a pure grin, a snuggle, a vulnerable tear, a soft sleeping cheek.

The other day, I was going through his clothes to see what he’d outgrown, and I totally wept onto his wee cargo pants and grippy socks, because there’s another layer of innocence, shed faster than I can grasp.

And, there’s another collection of sweet things his brother will never wear. I’d be in denial if I didn’t acknowledge that this is really about both of them.

Anyway. Lots more to say about that, another time. Right now, it’s time to make the final preparations for a BIG DAY TOMORROW!

Sigh. <3

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