Theodore Rutherford Williams. Also known a Theo, Teddy, and my forever baby. He is a son, a little brother, a Grandson, a nephew, a cousin, a friend. He was a boy who was loved long before he was transferred to his forever home, my womb. He spent 3 years in the freezer and 3 months of that with his brother Jack. He is a teacher of all things to do with love. He has been my biggest blessing and largest heartache. His life was short but full of purpose. Every second of heartache is worth it to have spent 3 years in my heart waiting to be transfer to my womb, the 30 weeks in my womb and the precious 22 minutes after birth. My gratitude for him choosing me as his Mother is unending. He shows me how close he is in a multitude of ways, I feel so blessed.
I am not expert on grief. Grief and I have only been acquainted for 9 months. But I have become an expert on my grief, not my husband’s, and certainly not yours, but my own ever changing journey of grief.
This is the thing about grief; no two people have the same journey; not even if two people lost the same baby, or father, or sibling, or pet. The journey will always be experienced differently. It only makes sense to me that this would be true since we have all experienced a very different life leading up to that loss. We all have very different relationships with our support networks and different relationships with those in our lives who aren’t supportive. But mostly it comes down to the fact that we simply have a very different lens through which we view the experience.
Meeting those who have experienced a loss very similar to my loss of Theodore has shown me that as much as we have similar threads woven in our hearts, we are all very much on our own journey. The authentic sharing of our hearts and feelings allows space for these differences. A deeper connection is made when a thread that feels so close to a thread you carry is exposed or when you hold space for a thread that isn’t something that you have experienced or feel but can love that person whole heartedly while meeting them where they are at.
The last few weeks have really made me take a hard look at my journey and all the experiences I have gone through. I have encountered some of the most beautiful people who can surprisingly do all the right things, which often include doing nothing but sending love openly and acknowledging where I am at without judgment. Then there are those who are able to offer love as long as it doesn’t distract from their personal happiness. Experiencing this a few times I have realized our society is very uncomfortable with allowing heartache and joy to coexist. Life isn’t linear. It has many twists and turns, hills, valleys and mountains. It has moments that leave you bursting with love and joy as well as moments that are heart wrenching. It is unreasonable to think that we would all be at the same place at the same time. The only way to fully support each other through real life is by allowing both heartache and joy to coexist in a beautifully open way. One simply can’t distract from the other; allowing both to be present makes it authentically beautiful.
After digging a bit deeper within myself and wondering why people struggle with the notion that heartache and joy can coexist, I found myself returning to the judgment piece. Often people who have experienced a loss of any kind feel judged. Those surrounding a person experiencing loss are often peeking in a window to that person’s world looking for signs of them “getting better”. People love to say statements such as “you are doing amazing” or “you aren’t getting better” or even “you seem to be getting worse”. The truth is all of that is garbage. It is just a judgmental perspective even when said out of love. The truth is “better” or “getting worse” are just your judgmental observations of my grief and have nothing to do with me. I have just been me experiencing my emotions. They may last a minute, a day, a week, a year, or a lifetime and anything in between. I don’t feel better or worse, I just feel. Sometimes it is heavy and may look like it is getting messy and sometimes it is light and beautiful but one isn’t better than the other. It truly is nothing more than IT JUST IS.
Maybe if people can view the hard stuff in life without judgment and accept it for what it is, then it will become easier to allow space for it right beside another person’s beautiful happy moments in life.
Because no two people’s experience with loss is identical it makes it impossible to compare journeys and leaves no room for judgment. The hard truth is you simply can’t fairly judge what you don’t know. It has been said a million times but, there is no timeline for grief. I personally don’t agree with labeling stages of grief. It just is. Meeting a person where they are at, with no judgment, while loving them through it all is the only way to support one another in life.
My only advice to loving a person experiencing grief is to acknowledge their feelings, give them endless amounts of love and recognize that your impressions and judgments about their grief is truly about you and not them. They are just feeling what their heart feels just like you do every day about a million other things.
Teddy my sweet,
I come to you today with love and gentle arms that hold you dear. Life has been ever changing since you came and left our physical world. My life has always been forever evolving, I have been given a blessed life in that way. Since you enter my life, my world changes so quickly, sometimes from moment to moment and sometimes in ways that are permanent but it is those shifts I am most grateful for.
I have days that my heart is so heavy I wonder how I can carry this weight for the rest of forever. I also have days where my heart is light, it feels beautiful, I see things that remind me of you and instead of sadness it brings joy. I know I need to walk the path that leads me to joy. To the place you would want me to be, yet walking it is scary; to let go of the heartache, to allow it to slip a way without fear it may never come back. I have been so scared to make this choice as it feels like I am walking away from you. My brain knows this is not the truth but my heart can sure make it feel as if it is. I am choosing to be brave, I am choosing to allow some of the pain shed from my being allowing space for more joy to grow.
You are a thread that is woven into the fabric of our family. A thread that is so important because with it we are stronger. This is a thread that can never be removed, can never be forgotten, and now without it we simply wouldn’t be us. I have had fear people with time wouldn’t see your thread woven into the fabric of our family. I have had fear people wouldn’t see how important you really are or how much you matter. The truth is I know, your Dad knows, your brothers know and those who love us know how special you are so maybe that is all that really matters. It is enough that only we know and those that are close to us who choose to understand will also always know and maybe it is time for me to be okay with allowing you to just be uniquely you and loved by those close to us just as you would had you lived.
I know as I walk this journey with you I can’t make a wrong turn but I can make better turns. I can make choices that can foster a life with more love and more joy and by doing so doesn’t take away from you but adds to you and your value to our family. I want our family to be woven with a multitude of colourful threads all equally important as the next. Your colour will always shine bright and be visible to our family.
Walking the path to joy isn’t always easy. I have learned that we need to protect our hearts sometimes. We have to take time for ourselves and that is is okay to not put ourselves in situations that triggers heartache. Recently those who truly love us, have been extremely loving as we have chosen to tend to our heart’s needs and we are so grateful for the unconditional love we have received.
Teddy, I am always here, I will always love you. Till the day we meet again you will be loved, this much I know is true.
PS – Thank you for showing up in our pictures this last weekend. I love it when you show up.
I am here, one with you in our hammock over looking Papineau Lake. The sun is shining, the wind is blowing a beautiful breeze and I am laying here with our crazy dog Jam beneath me while Patrick is sleeping and Jack is fishing with your Dad and Great Uncle Freeman.
You have been on my mind endlessly. I have spent much time in the last week thinking of how hard I crashed after riding a pretty long wave of peace. How depleted I felt, how the permanence of you being gone hit so hard and realizing how I will wake up in 20 years and have days like I just experienced.
I wrote you last from your resting place, I was the saddest I have been since you came into my world . My sadness stole my strength, my ability to function and complete simple tasks for three days. Filling my car with gas is an example of something I simply couldn’t do. My strength was replaced by endless tears, a tap was turned on and near impossible to turn off. You see grief is nothing more than a storm that comes and goes. Sometimes it is a beautiful rain shower and other times it is as crippling as a tsunami. I have now experienced the tsunami and the power it comes with.
I am so grateful to have felt it. To have lived it and to be reassured that the calm will always return and I will be okay. The calm did come, life went back to our new normal and your brothers have their Mom back and your Dad has his wife once again. We laugh, we love and we live. The tsunami temporarily steals that all from you. My heart aches for those who feel this on a more regular frequency.
So here I am with you, thinking and feeling so grateful for all you give me. Your gifts are ones I would give back in a heartbeat to have you in my arms if that was an option but it simply isn’t. So being open to see these gifts even if it is by having to look in the rearview mirror helps me to continue to grow and remain open for change. Having the tsunami hit allowed me to feel what many feel when struggling with life, sometimes you just can’t push the hard stuff aside, suck it up and get on with life. Sometimes life says enough! Enough is enough and you have to sit with it and feel it all. I appreciate the new perspective. I know it will be a matter of time before another hits but I am grateful for the variety of storms that come allowing me to feel such a wide range of emotions and gain a broader view which enables me to be much more empathetic. For now I am enjoying the wave of peace and holding you in my heart in the most loving way I can.
As I lay here I envision how it would have been, me and you rocking ever so gently in the hammock, the breeze blowing and you sleeping peacefully in my chest. I love you, I will never stop imagining all what could have been. Sometimes it hurts to think of and sometimes I can dream peacefully and full of love. Today I feel the latter.
Loving you is easy.
Your biggest fan, your Mommy
Happy 1/2 Birthday Theodore,
Oh sweet boy of mine. As I type this exactly six months ago you entered the world and laid upon my chest. Your sweetest little heart was still beating and you looked ohh so incredibly perfect to me. Your Dad, myself and all those who were blessed to bare witness have been forever changed and I believe in the most beautiful ways.
You chose the perfect people for your first birthday party six long (or short depending on the moment) months ago. I feel that love the room was filled with and the moment you entered into the outside world that love grew tenfold.
The last six months have been the most life changing months of my life. When you were born so was the new me. I have had to learn to live without you and get to know who the new me really is. I haven’t mastered either but there has been evolution. With every step forward my ability to turn around and see where I came from allows me to see where I am going. It is like coming out of a fog.
This morning I met your beautiful friend Isaac’s Mom at the lake to celebrate you both. You both chose a beautiful morning to be born and you chose a beautiful morning to celebrate your 1/2 birthday. I can see you both looking down on us with hearts full of love, pride and an amount of sadness. With every flower we tossed in the lake to represent each month you have been gone for I could feel you, I couldn’t help but think it is only time and in the grand scheme of things time is nothing and we will be together again one day. When that day arrives I know it will feel like we haven’t skipped a beat.
I hope you two have a wonderful day together as I know I will with Isaac’s Mom.
You both are missed deeply, truly and loved beyond measure.
I love you,
Your forever loving Mommy.
My littlest baby Theo,
Summer is in full swing. This weekend the sun was shining strong, your brothers were spending the days running in a sprinkler, playing soccer, and being super silly and free spirited boys. Your Dad competed in a charity dance competition on Friday night and won first place. I know you were right there beside him during the whole performance. Would you have been a good dancer? Your brothers love to dance and anytime the music is turned on they are grooving! Your Uncle Terry was here all weekend. He would have loved you dearly. We spent some time watching super bike races this afternoon. All four boys loved them, I am sure you too would have been crazy for the speed and power.
I felt your absence every minute of this incredible weekend. It seems so unfair for us to be together making so many memories and you are left to watch from a distance. Do you feel like it is unfair? Do you watch us with a heavy heart wishing as hard as I do it was so different? Do you want to be rolling on the grass with your brothers? Do you want to be a part of the love attacks your brothers get into? Do you feel their love even though it is at a distance?
You sure picked a great Dad. I have been thinking how right you were to pick him. His love for you runs deep. You are forever on his mind. I watch him with Jack and Patrick and think of all the ways you four would have fit perfectly together. The adventures you would have taken with him and the memories you would have made. I wonder how similar you would have been to him. Would you have love the tourism industry? Would have had the love for The Bay of Quinte Region? Would you have volunteered your time in similar ways? Would you have valued simple days with the family? Would have played the piano? Would you have shared his faith in God? Would you have been as thoughtful and as caring as he is? Would you one day be a Dad just like him? When it comes to Dads it doesn’t get better than him. I am so sorry you both can’t share it all.
This experience of losing you comes with so many layers. My heart breaks for me, as your Mom who desperately wants you back in my life. My heart breaks for Jack and Patrick, as they forever lost a brother who they would have adored and would have shared a life so close and so filled with love. My heart breaks for your Dad who lost you, his third son. It was meant to be a gang of four sharing all father and son experiences. My heart breaks for all of your Grandparents who also feel your absence and feel sadness for their children who are heavy with grief. The layers are thick, they are heavy and they are real. These layers are there because you are loved by so many and so very deeply.
I love you, I miss you, I feel you.
Your forever loving Mommy