I lay in bed the other night, hands crossed over my heart and legs pin-straight, and thought of those words:
This is not about me at all, is it? This is all about you.
That’s what you said to me when I told you I wanted to have the procedure done. A procedure that would be risky, as any procedure is, but that might point us to what’s wrong. The answer to why our children are in the clouds and not here with us.
I was angry at you for saying such a cruel thing. So I went to bed in silence and didn’t tell you to sleep with God and dream with me like I always do. I didn’t kiss you or reach for your hand in reconciliation. I simply lay there, emotionally entombed, trying not to breathe too hard or feel too much as I waited for sleep to find you and take you deep into the hush of night.
But here’s what sleep whispered to me: you were right.
Much of the past six years has been about me. When I was pregnant it was all about keeping me healthy, happy and calm. And when I wasn’t, it was about the same. You took the brunt of my suffering and sadness. You held me when I cried and told me we’d be okay when I ran out of tears. You told me that I was more than enough, that the two of us were more than enough. And on Mother’s Day, when nearly everyone forgot to remember, you were there just as you always are.
Our first child would have turned five this year. My instincts told me she was a girl and this is how I’ve seen her in my dreams: a green-eyed chatterbox with my curly hair and your long lashes, running through a field of asters, buttercups and thimbleweeds. She’s always wearing a white eyelet dress with blue ribbon threading its hem. It’s soiled with what looks like chocolate ice cream and her knees are skinned. I hear her calling to you:
Daddy, Daddy, come find me.
Then she ducks behind a Black Maple, certain you can’t see her. You can, of course, and you find her, pick her up and swing her around as you tell her you love her. Then I wake up, still hearing your laughter, yours and our daughter’s.
I thought of this dream last Sunday as I watched you in the quiet moments before releasing your butterfly in the RTS (Renew Through Sharing) Garden.
And I wondered if you whispered I love you before you opened the purple envelope and let her fly away. A symbolic gesture of the sorrow we have felt and an acknowledgement of the tremendous weight of empty arms.
When I opened my own I sent some sadness with it: sadness for thinking my heartache went deeper because it could be seen and sadness for not honoring the differences in our grieving. Because there are differences.
Perhaps you have always been strong because you felt you had to or because that’s just who you are. But I want you to know…
it’s okay to cry,
it’s okay to scream,
and it’s okay to shake your fist at the moon.
And it’s also okay to be silent. I know that now.
If we earned parenthood, if it was somehow based on merit, you would be a father because you deserve a child you can hold and touch and by whom you can be completely enamored. And you deserve to be called daddy in more than just my dreams. So, this Father’s Day, I hope you know how much you’re loved, both here on Earth and beyond where our angels reside. And that it is about us.
Always the five of us.