I think what some of us find, in this world of bereavement, is that, sometimes, when things seem like they will end, they don’t. My son is not here telling me what he wants for the holidays, but I still imagine him doing so. I cannot help myself. You have heard the phrase, “love does not end with death.” And that may be one of the first, but certainly not the last, surprising things to learn about grief.
Just because our most precious love leaves this earth, they don’t take everything with them. We still have the love, and my goodness, it keeps growing! Did you know that would happen? I didn’t.
I had no idea how much of my relationship to Brona would continue after six years. It’s true; I don’t cry all that often anymore. I’m fully functional and, arguably, I’m a good wife and friend, but I’m also “still” Brona’s mother. It doesn’t really matter if I am crying about him or actively thinking about him, he’s just there. He’s in every part of everything I do. He is in my dreams at night filled with what if’s and maybe’s. He is in the eyes of every child I see when I drop my daughter off at kindergarten and feel him not there. He is in every sunset and every embrace. He is with me when I’m dancing, when I’m cooking, when I’m writing, when I’m doing anything at all. None of that ended. In fact, his presence is so pervasive, that sometimes I’m just lonely for being the only one that seems to be able to feel it or notice it.
We can’t share our children the way others share living children. Nobody really wants to hear about them. Do they? It bothers them that you are “still” thinking about your lost child, that you are “still” imagining them at whatever age they might’ve been at that moment in time. It makes people uncomfortable. They have no idea what to say. And you know that.
We are constantly faced with a choice. We can choose to make it easier for them. We can choose to hold back from mentioning our child’s name, or mentioning the fact that your best friend just chose the same middle name that you did and has no idea why, or that, that baby over there has the exact same bear hat with ears, and it is heartbreaking and a little wonderful at the same time to see it. Or, you can be bold and mention his or her name anyway, break the silence, claim your love and pride, and end up making them uncomfortable regardless. It is a crappy choice.
I wish there was another way to stretch our cultural norms so that they would embrace the undying love for our children. Is it morbid? Is it creepy? Is it strange?
No, by the way, the answer is no. Normal is only set by what we collectively prescribe to be so, and it is changeable. Each and every one of us who proclaim the love for our children is changing this world. We are changing this world for the better, absolutely. With every photograph of tiny toes and rosebud lips, with every soaring balloon, with every holiday card with an extra name, we are letting the world know that it is okay, that it is quite beautiful actually, that we can speak the names of these sacred and cherished children, and let the smiles and tears blend together with the intensity of our passionate love for them.
So as the earth turns one more time around the sun, just know that the love you feel, and the love you speak for your children, helps another person, and another, and another, until it is “normal” to say their names and celebrate their lives, and no one turns away, changes the subject, forgets, or makes a thoughtless comment. Love your children, all of them, as long as you like and any way you like, and feel comfortable celebrating your whole family. They are part of you, part of our world, and that is a good thing.
Thank you all for letting me share Brona with you.
About the Author: Mara Hill is a mother, wife, and author of Brona: a memoir a story chronicling her story of the short but sacred life of her son.