Is Mother’s Day the best name for this day of the year, a sort of season in itself? One of my greatest fears in talking openly about the child I lost is that you three will understand the loss of your brother to be more defining to me than you are. Such a fear has, at times, haunted me at night, as if I am spinning exactly the right kind of future therapy fodder for you – my living children.
You may still seem to me like babies, but each time I see how sure-footed you are in the world, you steal my breath. One day you will leave and the world will benefit from the gifts you have strewn so happily around me, and there will be all those other gifts, not contained by our home, which you will find.
Each springtime makes me recall your infancies. Is it that spring is still so tenuous, the birds still barely speaking to one another? The peepers begin to stir. There is a promise of fireflies. The beauty always brings me to my knees, at least a little bit. I remember sitting with one or another of you on my lap pointing out trees, the tender green of new-made leaves, silver-flecked with a sun only just then beginning to hint at summer heat. A few months later in high summer, we might find ourselves standing on the porch and watching a humid thunderstorm go by, beating down top-heavy flowers, drenching them. All of you have loved water. Each of you laughed, each found delight.
This is what you must know — the three of you here with us now. After your brother died, you restored me and made me live again. To my eldest: you were my unwitting guide, seeing magic everywhere we went and so opening my eyes to it. That first winter we had together, just after our loss, revealed a world to me, one I had never seen, learning as if a child myself how to notice everything the way you did. To my first baby after the loss: as the poet wrote, you came to me trailing glory, alive to humor and connection in a way I am only now beginning to understand. You mended me with the largeness of your heart and with your shy ways. To my youngest, my daughter, not only did you make me begin to trust the fates again – you had enough in you remind me of my own fairy time.
It is true that tradition and legacy mean a great deal to many families, including ours. Continuation, a steadiness through time. And yet we may have just passed through a long episode, together as a family, in which we learned not only about continuation but about endings as well. We can find a meaning that helps remind us of the grace of each day. Perhaps this is what I want you to know as you grow. And in writing about you, my loves, on this occasion of Mother’s Day, I want you to know that just as surely as I birthed you, you birthed me. Families can be as momentous as shorelines, formed and reformed by storms and the leavings they cast, and I am so glad that whatever humble shore we call our family, we get to share it together for the time we have.
Photo credit: Douglas Baz
This article originally appeared on BabyCenter.