Earlier this week, Rachel at 6512 and growing, writing about the premature birth of her son and how her awareness of prematurity has changed over the last eight years, said, "Now it feels like part of our story, but not the main plot."
I've been thinking about this line since, thinking about how Henry's story is part of my story, how it isn't the main plot anymore. I think the tough part is that his story doesn't go on, and I worry about that plot line fading out all together. I find again and again that I need to let go of the fear of him being lost to memory. I am reminded again and again that it is okay to let go, that he is remembered, that he is part my story.
One friend recently asked if we would have a Christmas tree this year. I met her after Henry died, while I was pregnant with Elizabeth, and two years ago, I told her that December is really hard for me, and she remembers this and asks me in different ways, how the month looks for me this year. This same friend dropped off a plant to put in Henry's garden for his birthday.
And my dear friend who knew Henry, who did more than she may know in helping me survive the hospital, just ended a message by saying she was thinking of me and Henry, as she always does come December. This friend has a picture of Henry on a shelf at her house, and when people ask her about it, she tells them he's a friend.
I am a cautious person. I reel out my line, loosen my grasp slowly. Will I have as much trouble letting go of my girls as they are ready more and more to go into the world?
I've been thinking a lot about Henry's story, my story, our story lately. I've been writing more lately (just not here), and I'm working with this story, but I'm not sure which story I'm telling. Is it the story of his life where roller coaster of his health are a major plot, the story that ends with me standing by a hospital door in the dark, arms empty, to go home to a quiet house? Is it the story of the journey that ending started? Is it the story of becoming this person I am now having reassembled my pieces (mostly) these near five years later? I don't know, but I'm going back into the darkness and the fear and the confusion, little by little, and finding it is not so deep below the surface sometimes, though the crust is stronger. I'm looking in these dark corners, as I always do, for the bits of light, the bits of love, the bits of Henry hidden in the shadows of oxygen tanks and ambulance rides, and codes.
It's almost December, the month when I celebrate all three of the lives I brought into this world. Two birthdays, one remembrance all packed tight and barreling into Christmas. I'm approaching December tentatively this year. I wonder if I'm just limping now out of memory, if perhaps I could step more surefootedly through the coming month. I'm just going to take little steps and see.