10 Months - Mothering Memories
It’s 10 months today Dylan.
I’ve been having dreams about holding babies lately. Not you specifically, sort of a generic baby. It's probably because I have two babies in my life right now – one is 8 months and the other is almost 5 months. Seeing them regularly is really bringing up a lot of memories for me of just how much I loved being a mother and of the first words, smiles and milestones you all reached. It’s interesting that many of my memories have become amalgamated. While each of you were most certainly unique and different, there was definitely a similarity within me in how I held you, comforted you and spoke to you. I’m remembering that it was something I was actually very good at and it has been wonderfully therapeutic for me to hold these beautiful new babies now and I’m incredibly grateful to have this beautiful reminder.
I woke up this morning fully aware that it was the 10 month anniversary of your death. I have been frustrated that I have so few photos of you Dylan. The ones on this computer are but a fraction of a fraction of the thousands of photographs I’ve taken over the years – many of which have been lost over the course of numerous moves, computer crashes and circumstances. It is a great frustration to me and if I could give any advice to any new parents, it would be to “PRINT” precious photos! Take the time to make photo albums, they will become your most valued belonging over the years.
There are two large plastic storage bins in our basement that contain hundreds of printed photos so I ventured this morning down into the crawl space to sort through them and find some new ones to add to your website. The 3-ft. crawl space is extensive, dimly lit and uncomfortable but it is a dry and safe place for our memories so down I went. I spent almost 2 hours down there and sorted through one of the bins. My efforts were rewarded with several photos ranging from you as a 4-month old baby to our last trip to Vancouver Island together. It was a very bitter/sweet time for me down there but the prevailing feeling I had looking at the photos was of how many wonderful times we had together. There is a temptation that has lay deep within me to only focus on and mourn all of the shortcomings, all of the regrets and all of the mistakes I made over the years of mothering you. Looking at the many, many vacation, adventure and life experience photos was a healthy reminder for me of all of the things I did RIGHT with you and of the great effort I made to try and help you have a better life than I had.
I read a really beautiful article last week about grief, written by a grief therapist who is actively dying himself. It was an honest and frank account of his experience with his wife and there were two thoughts expressed that especially resonated with me: "We want to be (lightly, only lightly) aware of death not because our story will end, but because the stories of those we hold dear will end, perhaps before ours. The awareness of premature or unexpected endings can motivate us to routinely demonstrate our love to those important to us. Let’s not save our affection, as if a rare wine, for special occasions. Give and receive it as essential nourishment." I especially noted his use of the word “awareness” and not the word “fear”. While I didn’t always live up to this creed, I do believe that I made the time regularly to let you know that I loved you, both by words and deeds.
The other quote from the article is “It's not to say that grief suddenly ends and a person moves on. No, what happens is that a weight that initially feels unbearable becomes, in time, manageable. The grief becomes compact enough, with the hard edges removed, to be gently place in one's heart.” I still weep when I sit very still and acknowledge that your're gone Dylan but the weight is becoming more and more bearable with each passing month. The rough and jagged edges are starting to soften, rounding out with every tear shed and happy memories are slowly beginning to bubble up now and then to the surface of my grief. It's such a long process, this finding balance within my heart... but it is beginning to shift and this gives me great comfort and hope.