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:
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.
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.
14 thoughts on “Four Years Remembering You In This House”
Oh, Diana, what a lovely tribute to your lost boy! I am still quietly in tears. There are things here i did not know. I thought of you all last week, as you know. The way you keep your Sebastian with you is lovely; I so understand the pain being part of it, or the way to get there. I do so love your own lullaby; I like to listen again and again. Strawbaby (as L called it when he was 3) picking is undoubtedly a fine tradition to mark the day – what could be lovelier? This is a beautiful post, and just last night i was thinking about how i was missing your blog and wondered whether I had fallen off the list or you were just busy. And hey – I didn’t know E. now wears glasses!! Looking good!
Thank you for your caring words, Auntie CL, and for always understanding. xoxoxo It has indeed been a long time since I blogged – feels good to be back in the saddle, but the hiatus was necessary. And E has only had the glasses for a few weeks – he was very excited about them! They suit him so well that I got used to them right away.
I’m so glad you got to write this, even with everything that’s going on.
And I’m glad we got to talk about it when I was there last week, and that I got to spend the morning with you all on Wednesday — such a beautiful morning! — though I couldn’t be with you on Thursday. The memories of that summer are still so vivid for me, too, and it will be strange when the house becomes only a memory as well.
What an eerie thing about that package. Have you found out anything more about it? It seems like some weird schism of the universe for you to receive an unexpected package, for it to contain something you don’t need now (and probably wouldn’t have used even if you had a newborn), and for that to happen *now* of all times… Have you had an crossover encounter with an alternate-reality-self? Whoa. I’m sorry it wasn’t something way more awesome in that package, though.
Love you all (and love you more)
I’m so glad you were there with us that morning, too. And that we’d had such a lovely evening before that, thanks to you. I thought about mentioning in this post that very visceral moment in Far From The Madding Crowd, where Sean compulsively reached for my hand (“Fanny Robbins and Child”)… but our night out was so happy overall, I wanted to leave it where it was.
As for the package… I know I received samples like that when I had newborns – or maybe even while pregnant. You find yourself on lists without knowing how. But that alternate-reality self is a good theory, considering the timing…
Love and hugs. xo
<3 <3 Thank you, Krista.
Lovely post, my love. Thank you for the sharing. I was away on Sebastian’s days and didn’t see the maple tree that is flourishing for him, but I did think of him and you and Sean. I will never forget the phone call from Sean, from the hospital, on the 8th of July. How I wished I were right there right then!
You won’t be leaving S behind in the house. The memories are clear and will abide. When I went back last spring to the house that had belonged to my great aunts Emily and Anna, and found nothing left but the daffodils, at first it hurt my heart. But then I realized that the house is inside me, just as it has been all these years, because my aunts are in my heart, so plainly I don’t need the house to have my aunts with me. Sebastian will always be with you, and when you reach out for him, the house as it was when he was in it with you will be there too.
Thank you, Mama. <3 <3 I'll never forget those phone calls, either. Sean was so brave.
I'm glad you brought up your aunts - what a sad story it seems, as you say. I'm glad you found a way to be at peace with it. I've been mourning Wina's house, too, even though it's not gone. Your wise perspective helps.
Such a beautiful post. I usually read your blog posts at work because I can’t wait to open them up when I get the email, and I remember sitting in this exact same chair four years ago, reading your raw posts about the loss and crying for S. Time is an interesting things. I think it’s poignant that you are moving now and reflecting. Houses are so special, and their memories always live on in our hearts. Hugs to you all.
Thank you for reading, Quinn – I’m honoured that you want read my posts as soon as you get them! When you mention both time and houses, it makes me think of Wina’s house and how time seemed almost not to exist – or not to apply – when we visited. Like a bubble outside of time. (Thank goodness for your beautiful book that made it immortal!) Love you.
I’m glad we were able to provide some “normalcy” for you (not sure how normal it is to be chair dancing on a deck while devouring snap peas and wine…seems normal to me!) and I’m glad we were able to share a hug and glass of wine in commemoration. As you know, I have his birthday in my calendar and will help keep him alive as I also grieve for him. The memories of us dancing together (us carrying him and Naomi in our bellies) are so very vivid. Love you very much!
Mary, me too – I was so tired, but I ended up being so glad to have practice that night with my dance family – not to mention the excellent snacks! And the hug was very much appreciated. xoxo I also treasure those memories of our dancing belly-babies together, and Naomi has a special place in my heart for that reason. Love you too!
Really beautiful post! I am feel for you and I am so full with compassion. Your home seems like a lovely place keeping so many memories of you and your lovely family. I wish you to have a smooth move to the new place where you’re going to open a new chapter of your life and have a wonderful time watching your beautiful children grow! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for reading, Irene, and for your kind words.