I arrived home this afternoon to the most beautiful card from my Mama Sister, Jenn. The cover says Love, and you shall be loved.
Love has had an overriding theme of Sam’s life. Often times I would hold my belly when I was pregnant and ask Ted, “Do you think he knows?” And Ted would always reply, “I know he knows.” I was talking about love. All I ever wanted Sam to know was that he was loved. If his first birthday has confirmed anything to my Mama heart it’s that he is loved. And he must know. I know he knows.
Words fail me to adequately explain the week leading up to Sam’s birthday. Georgia’s Mama, Rachel, put it so well in one of our conversations. “I just know so freshly how it feels to live out those last days with them. It’s nothing short of soul crushing. Living through the last week before their birthday again transports us back in a way only we know and can remember. We suffer in so many ways putting ourselves back in that time and space of our last moments with our child. It’s completely devastating.”
On Monday my parents, Ted and I met with Jerod Clapp of the News and Tribune. He was writing an article about loss Mom’s that included our story of Sam. We sat with him over my lunch break at work and retold from the beginning the life and death of our baby. The only other time we had shared in detail from the beginning was in preparation for his funeral.
Tuesday was his first birthday. It was one of the most beautiful days of my life. I’ve never lit a birthday candle for someone who was no longer living but I will do it every year. We sat in silence, the way Sam was born, in our dining room watching the flame of a single candle unsure of what we were supposed to do next. Do we blow it out or do we just let the flame burn? We decided to make a wish and blow out Sam’s candle. If there’s anything I know, it’s that nothing will ever extinguish the light of Sam’s life.
Thursday evening we welcomed Tyler over with the News and Tribune to photograph us in Sam’s room. I was feeling like my total awkward self and said out loud, “Are we actually supposed to be smiling?” Tyler responded perfectly and said, “I feel warmth from you. I think it’s okay to smile.”
Friday I was sitting at work and something hit me. What if people read the newspaper and they judge me or make some false conclusion about my life. I suddenly became aware of how open I was with my grief to welcome the newspaper into its shadows. But then I realized the fruit of sharing. I’ve shared Sam all along.
I woke up this Saturday morning feeling refreshed. Thoughts of a year ago are continuously rolling around in my mind but my heart keeps reminding me of the sheer beauty of the present. It feels like a gift.
I went to yoga this morning to be told, with tears in her eyes, by my soul sister Carrie that an anonymous friend called Inner Spring on Sam’s birthday and purchased an entire month of yoga for me. Warmth flooded my body and I smiled. I think I said, “I really love this place. This place was made for me.” I had a magical practice wherein Carrie taught us the importance of sitting with our feelings.
At the end as I moved into my shoulder stand I stayed there staring at the ceiling; a different perspective; upside down. I thought about my life. A year ago it was turned upside down. I thought about my body, tired from my practice, but steady with my legs in the air. A year ago I was broken and betrayed by it but not now.
Time hasn’t healed all wounds. I don’t think it ever will. Sam will always be missing from my life. But time has given me the space to really examine what’s happening in my heart and to be thankful for all the things I do have.
My parents, Ted and I released lanterns into the nights sky on Tuesday at Sam’s place of rest. My parents were holding their lanterns and my Dad said to my Mom, “Are you ready to let go?” and she started to cry and said, “I don’t know, am I?” Just because a year has passed doesn’t mean we’re letting go of who Sam is in our lives. It only means that we’ve been given a unique opportunity to grow.
I’m a new me and she’s worth celebrating.