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Friday, November 17, 2006

nine years

I’m reading a book called The Memory Keeper’s Daughter. I haven’t decided whether I like it yet, but I do know it has been the catalyst for strong emotion on my part. Within the first two sentences, I found myself tensing up for the inevitable disaster. A woman, going into labor during a snowstorm, no good could come of this.

The axe fell – differently than I expected, but with at least as much heartache. I threw the book to the side and refused to pick it up again for a month. However, it kept calling to me. The other day, I picked it up again. Reading is going slowly. There are times when I find myself near tears. Other times I want to scream in anger. Still other times I just want to make one of the main characters understand. Don’t try to bury the grief! It needs to be lived!

Nine years, and grief changes. I was planning to write a post and have it ready at 12:01 AM. I slept through the hour. On November 17, at 12:01 AM in 1997, my precious Caleb was born asleep. He had died in my womb mere hours before. In that first week, grief was so searing that the slightest touch from “the real world” was like acid – fire to the soft tissue of emotion. That immediate all-consuming grief had to be set aside to care for my living children – mirrored, if you will, by the tossing of the book.

Over the first year, it seeped into every day with sudden pangs. The sight of a pregnant woman, running into someone I hadn’t seen for awhile, a TV commercial – anything really, could suddenly bring the same intensity to the surface. Mourning isn’t over because the world goes back to normal. Mourning doesn’t come to a halt because people who don’t understand think you are dwelling too long, nor should it.

As the years passed, the grief didn’t depart, it simply changed form. Less frequent are the times in which it is all-consuming. While I can still see that immense pain in my mind’s eye, I no longer feel it. That is not to say that pain doesn’t come. It sneaks up sometimes and takes me by surprise. It moves me to greater worry at times when those close to me are pregnant (as now). It gives me clarity and familiarity when someone else experiences a loss. It gives a depth to my being that might otherwise be absent.

But today, so far, I am not sad. A sweet melancholy of remembrance floods me. I choose to take today to remember the brief time we did have together. Will this keep me from sadness, this resolve? No. And if sadness wants to come to me, that is okay, and right, and I will welcome it.

As I looked through old pictures yesterday from before the digital age, a single photograph of Caleb fell out from among the rest. I don’t know how it got there. The rest of the photos and memorabilia are in a special memory box, pulled down when the need to touch the physical reminders of him is strong – dusty now.

Nine years, and I have changed. The eldest of my younger three has begun asking questions about the brother who died. It is strange to answer those questions with the benefit of elapsed time. I have only answered them before from the throes of tears in a hidden doorway. I have only explained while attempting to be strong in the midst of my own anguish.

Today, we will make a cake. We will sing Happy Birthday to a child who has wisdom greater than our own – a child who is no longer a child – a child who holds the hand of Jesus.

Happy Birthday Caleb – until we meet again.


  • Happy Birthday sweet boy.

    T ~ I love this post. It sums up the whole 6 years of this journey for me.

    Celebrating Caleb with you today.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:10 AM  

  • I love you!

    (and I must love you a lot since the word verification was vasdbmlm or some such)


    By Blogger atypical, at 10:34 AM  

  • We all love you and love that little boy that brought you to us.

    Happy Birthday Caleb.

    By Anonymous heath111, at 10:37 AM  

  • I'm happy you are doing well today. Enjoy the birthday cake.

    Happy Birthday, Caleb


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:36 PM  

  • big hugs, sweetheart. you and your sweet boy are deeply in my thoughts today. much love.

    By Blogger jouette, at 3:07 PM  

  • I am glad the grief has softened.

    I thank God that, for all the trials we have endured, the loss of a child is not one of them. This post hit me particularly hard as my eldest child is a boy named Caleb. He is one year older than your Caleb. It is hard to imagine life without him.

    Thanks for stopping by the other day. I'll look forward to "seeing" you again.

    By Anonymous OddMix, at 8:26 AM  

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