Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Work in progress

In comments about my post about patterns, Catherine and Kate both talked about the trust factor and I've been thinking on that.  Trust is huge.

I've only recently gotten to the point where I find myself really, truly trusting that people I know--people who knew Henry, who loved him and love me--will not forget him, will understand that we continue to miss him, despite the joy and blessings that have entered our lives.

So how do I trust people who never knew him to feel his powerful, determined spirit and not simply the weight of “dead baby”?

I suppose that is where I feel I fail, because I am still mired down in the separation, the oxygen, the ambulance rides, and the ICUs. I’m still burdened by the codes and the med schedule and the endlessly shifting ground of new diagnoses. I am still, for myself, trying to dig Henry out from that rubble.

I can list all the meds he came home on in December 2007, but I can’t remember what he smelled like or if his eyes were the same clear blue as Kathleen’s or if he had my fingers as it looks like she does.

I get him in flashes: A cardinal streaking by my window brings to mind his smile. Kathleen’s face studying a flower reminds me of Henry’s effort and determination to kick his babychimes. I have felt his wholeness in an inky black sky strewn with stars. I have felt his absence standing before the vastness of the ocean, my love stretching away beyond the horizon.

Saying that Kathleen is 9 months old, has three teeth, is taking great delight in feeding herself Cheerios, and nestles her head into her mama’s shoulder only when she is tired, does not tell you who Kathleen is, but you begin to get a picture.

Do you begin to get a picture when I say Henry died at 6 ½ months, had hardly any hair, worked doggedly at getting his pacifier in his mouth (when he didn’t have a tube in there), and kept his mama going with his smiles? Or do you get stuck at the word died?

That’s where I get stuck most of the time. So maybe it isn’t about trusting others and their responses, but about trusting myself to be okay in that moment when somebody asks how old my son is and to remember and express my Henry, my baby boy, who I carried and loved, not just the medical interventions and loss that swirl between us. I’ll keep working on it.


  1. I think of your Henry when I see Cardinal's too. I never met him in person, but I carry him in my heart, not to be forgotten.

  2. Yep, I think this is a work in progress for us all.

  3. I get stuck sometimes, too. I wish it were easier to trust ourselves.