This post has been entirely inspired by something one of the mothers said to me at our mother to mother group this month when discussing a grief book. A part that really spoke to her was that a big part of grief is having broken dreams. And when you've lost your baby, that's probably the biggest majority of what your grief is. Certainly we miss our baby but we never really got to know them, to see what kind of people they'd become. From the moment you see that pregnancy test turn positive your head is flooded with dreams of this new life.
When will he be due? He'll be so little at Christmas, such a fun age by Summer! Will he have the same handsome face as his daddy? Will she have Mommy's curly hair? What will it be like to watch her grow up?
All these questions that we'll never have answers to. Sometimes I look at my son Kevin and I wonder if Henry would have looked just like him. I imagine he would, I have photos where my two kids could be twins even though they're two years apart! Would he have had that same belly laugh and that same flare for creativity and drama? Would he also have had blonde hair? Would he prefer Batman or Captain America? (a common debate in this house!)
So the point of the discussion became how can we acknowledge those broken dreams but also how can we honor them.
I've approached a time of year that I've been dreading. The time of year Henry should have been born. His due date was July 1 but I knew I would have been induced early for medical reasons and so I never had a real attachment to that date. In my mind, by the time July 1 rolled around I'd already be home with him.
But hearing this talk of how to honor my broken dreams really inspired something inside of me. A big part of my grief has been that no one got to know my son. I didn't even get to know my son besides those gentle little pokes I felt from the inside, and that for about four weeks all he seemed to want me to eat was popsicles and peanut butter sandwiches. That's all I get. I often feel grief at the fact that he can be so easily forgotten. I know no one in my family will forget him, but he had no chance to make an impact. No one can ever start a sentence with, "Remember the time when Henry....."
So what can I do to honor all of those broken dreams? What can I do to help give him more of a legacy? Well in part, reaching out to other mothers through this organization has been one thing, though honestly that feels like something that's more for me than for him because it's been so helpful to me.
So after some thought, I picked a random day at the end of this month. I have decided to make June 24 Henry's day. I hope it will be a yearly tradition, at least for a few years. I plan to do acts of kindness on this day. One thing I'd love to do is to repay some of the kindness we received from the doctors and nurses and staff at the hospital and the doctor's offices so we'll be dropping off some treat baskets and cards. I plan to go to the cemetery and bring flowers to some of the other babies that I know there. I'd like to plant some flowers.
I'd like to do even more but I haven't come up with other ideas just yet. This has become something that's very exciting to me. A day not to dread because he's not here, it's become a day I look forward to because he was here and I'm helping to make sure he's remembered and honored. Some good will come from his short little life on earth.
And to make it even bigger, I've invited my friends and family to do something as well that day. Whatever they want, big or small. And we're going to document it and make a scrapbook so that in the years to come, we can look back at all the good that's been done in Henry's name. Something good has to come from all of this pain. I can't let my only memories of him be sad ones.
So what are some ways that you can or have honored your shattered dreams? I'd love to hear what others have done or would like to do! Please leave comments!! And I encourage everyone to give this a try. It doesn't have to be a big day like I'm doing, it can be a small project, a garden in your yard, taking flowers somewhere. Something positive to do for your baby. Realize that we can still tie memories to their names, they don't have to fall silent and either do we!