Tomorrow marks the first day of our final 10 days with Teddy two years ago. There are two types of deaths, the sudden and those that play out over time. Teddy’s death played out over ten days. Prior to that as much as we knew he would die we remained hopeful. Hope is a life line. Without it, it all felt impossible. Two years ago we drove to SickKids in Toronto for a routine fetal echo. Two years ago we sat in a room, a doctor walked in with a look written all over his face. I knew by his eyes Teddy journey was ending way sooner than I was ready for. It was the moment my stomach hit the floor and my heart caught up to it shortly there after. It was confirmed the end was near, he was an incredibly sick little boy and the doctor thought he might survive a few hours to maybe a day. He gave us ten. Ten days that were incredibly hard, so hard there isn’t a word in the English language to articulate it properly. Ten days that were the greatest gift Teddy and God could have ever given me. Because he didn’t die instantly, because we had these days together I don’t have one day that feels hard to relive but ten. It is the ten day pilgrimage to the birth of our third son, the only day in my life that will ever hold the full range of beauty. The birth, the death, the baptism, the love, the only and final good bye.
Two years ago I was preparing for his birth, his death, his funeral. Last year I was busy creating cards to celebrate him while spreading his message of love. This year I hold our newborn. Every year is so different from the last. I believe as each rolls on I will reflect on each year and see the growth, the pain, and the gifts. The common threads through it all I believe will be how my love is unwavering, my gratitude is abundant, my heart longing for him, and his importance in our family.
Sunday we baptized our precious Zooey Helen. A day filled with love, but leading up to it felt heavy, and a day I actually wasn’t ready for. I spent time in the couple weeks leading up to it trying to figure out my emotions and sort out what was really going on. I couldn’t bring myself to order a cake, I couldn’t arrange the party afterwards. I was paralyzed and it wasn’t something I haven’t ever experienced before. I want Zooey to have a Mother that can be fully present in her moments. I wanted this for her birth and for her baptism and the reality is it is impossible. Those were experiences that I shared with Teddy, and doing them again was hard. The truth is her brother died. He died before she was born and because of that, it comes with sharing at least those two moments with him. He didn’t have any more moments in his time with us so they are the only two they have to share and I believe Zooey would generously give us all of that. She might even be honoured to do so.
I have realized throughout the past few years I have these moments that I am forced to go full circle. Zooey’s birth and baptism were one of those times. As I was figuring what I was really feeling with the baptism I was lead to look at what I feel when I am at Church. This building houses so much life for Ryan and I. Even before we were married Ryan and I attended Church. We always sat upstairs in the balcony. As we were planning our wedding I would sit there envisioning this magical day that was in the horizon. We said our vows, promising on that stage to love and support each other with God as our helper. I had no clue at that moment how much we would actually need his help in the next few years. Once we were married my dreams of our wedding day switched to envisioning the day we are parents and could proudly baptize our children. But years went by as we watch so many other families doing what we desperately wanted for ourselves. We sat in that balcony praying fiercely to be blessed with a child, and held back tears as we watched the other families go before us . Finally our day comes, not once but four times, only one of these baptisms wasn’t on that stage, it was in the hospital only hours before we said goodbye forever. Our Teddy made his way to that stage but it was for his funeral. So where we said our vows and baptized two children I stood reading Theodore’s eulogy. We never did sit upstairs regularly since that day. Instead we sit up front one seat back from where we sat that day we honoured Teddy and those seats almost always remain empty. So as the weeks went by and Zooey’s baptism approached I would often look back up and think of that girl. The girl who once thought optimistically of the life she thought we were intended to live with no clue the significance the walls around us would hold. I thought about those tears I would hold back in church and would fall once we left after witnessing a baptism. I wondered if any of those families felt as I did on this past Sunday. Not knowing their story, they too could have felt very conflicted. Could there have been someone else looking upon us not knowing our story and feeling what I once felt? This Sunday during the service after Zooey’s baptism Pastor David talked about judgment and as he spoke I thought about not the judgements I have made but more about all the assumptions.
The circle is complete, our last child is baptized, the day was perfect and exactly as intended. I am grateful for having those hard days that forced me to look deeply and sort out what it was about. I see it all clearly now, I see the importance and the role faith has played out in our life together. Zooey’s baptism allowed me to connect the dots in a way I am not sure I ever would have without it.
I am not sure what these next ten days will feel like as I make my way through them. What I am sure of is it will be a mixed bag, it will be different from the last two years and different from all the rest to follow so I intend to remain very present, to find gratitude for this unique journey, to feel it all, and to grow as much as possible through it.
Being blessed isn’t about living an easy life, but living one rich with lessons, with growth, and having the ability to find gratitude even in the hard moments. Because we are blessed our life is rich.
xoxo Momma Bear