It has been so long long since I’ve been able to write, and even longer since I could complete a full post. I tried around the holidays but as you may have witnessed, I had nothing to show for it. Between work and home responsibilities it is hard to find enough time to do anything “extra” beyond a normal day. Soon after Rylan passed I found comfort in personal blogs created by parents who lost their babies. I remember really connecting to specific families and feeling disappointed when an author would drop off on posting regularly, and disheartened when they seemed to end indefinitely. When I began capturing my own experiences I remember worrying that someday my own site would succumb to the same sad ending. I worried that it would look and feel like I suddenly forgot my son–and that I would let others down, as well. What I want readers to know, if they even stop here at all, is that even though I can’t write more often I think about my son, Rylan, all of the time.
While I have some joyful distractions and much to be happy about today, the pain deep inside me still aches for the baby I lost. Much to what others may think, having another child does not replace the child lost. Anyone who allows that thought to cross their mind, or even more, their lips, is an idiot. After two years, the pain on a daily basis isn’t as sharp although I still experience days, even weeks, when the sorrow, loneliness, heartache, emptiness, anxiety, and frightening memories rise to the surface. They can be triggered by happy things, sad things, or nothing particular at all. Grief is heavy and after losing a child you carry it with you for a lifetime. Some days you can take it with you, like a suitcase on wheels, following behind you with little effort. Other days it’s like pushing a giant boulder (or 50) uphill. I have a hole inside that no one and no amount of time will ever fill.
I still feel responsible for Rylan’s death, irrational as it may sound. Maybe it’s because they never gave me an answer about what happened to him. Maybe it’s because I’m his mom and I feel like I should have been able to protect him. It horrifies me to this day that he could have been in distress, hurting or scared inside my belly and I didn’t know. I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t help. I hate that I could have been going about my daily routine, doing mundane things at work or around the house, all while my son was dying. It’s a very huge weight to carry and I often stuff it deep inside me. I know that’s not a healthy thing to do but it’s the only way that I can keep moving. I don’t tell people because they will either think I’m crazy, be uncomfortable, or feel the need to reassure me that I’m wrong—or all of the above. I don’t want to be comforted about it because ultimately I know it won’t make a difference about how I feel.
I still have flashbacks. They haunt me whether it is day or night. Memories of the night that Rylan died. How the evening began. The fear and uncertainty balanced with the hope and excitement of having our first child. The physical pain and accelleration of my labor. The emotional pain that set in when they told us he died. I think about the short time we were able to hold him and how excruciatingly hard it was to give him away, knowing we’d never see or feel him again. The haze of planning our goodbye, all of the decisions that were set into motion within a few short hours of his birth. How it felt to be escorted down the back hall of the hospital, avoiding other families on the wing who didn’t have to leave the hospital empty-handed. Walking back into a quiet home filled with expectations and taking the first few steps in the opposite direction of our baby.
I spend a lot of time these days thinking about Rylan, wondering what memories we would have shared with him up until this point. It’s hard to believe that 2 years have already come and gone. Who would our little baby be today? I don’t even have a clue what a 2-year-old is like… it makes me sad to think that I should know. I still think about what color his eyes would’ve been, since I never saw them open. I wonder what his smile would have looked like, what his laughter would sound like… among the hundreds of other “what ifs” that will never be fulfilled. Being around kids that age and watching them interact with their parents is still difficult. The questions and curiosity over who Rylan would be today never go away.
Rylan’s 2nd birthday was on the 12th. In 2013, that date was also Mother’s Day. That little fact still makes me feel so angry and hurt. As if losing my child wasn’t enough…it had to happen on that day. It’s hard not to feel like that was intentional. If no one can tell me why I was chosen to lose my baby, why he had to die, than maybe someone can clue me in on why I also had to endure that kind of tragedy on that particular day. For years to come, for the rest of my life, I will never celebrate the joy of Brody without mourning the loss of Rylan. Talk about a kick in the teeth. And, I have no choice but to go with it.
On the bright side, we did some nice things in Rylan’s memory this year. Chris suggested that we plant a weeping cherry tree by the end of the driveway in our front yard. I love it. Every day when I come home from work it’s the first thing I see. We added a solar light near the base so that it even stays highlighted at night. We took Brody to the cemetery with us and like last year we laid out a large blanket and sat under his tree–the one that sits beside his resting place. We released butterflies again, which I always look forward to on that day. Butterflies are a reminder to me about how beautiful he was and releasing them is a tradition we wanted to continue for him. In some way it feels like a gift we’re giving him. My parents ordered them for us this year which was nice and took some pressure off my shoulders. When the day came the sun was shining and there was a nice breeze moving through the cemetery. And, in a surprising, wonderful moment that Chris and I will never forget, Brody made two wobbly, crawling steps toward Rylan’s marker. He placed his tiny hands right on the flower and butterfly design that we have placed our own hands on so many times before. I’m not sure if it was a gift from Rylan or Brody, but either way it made the visit a little easier.
I miss Rylan. I want to hold him again so badly. I want him back. I want the option to change our fate. Having Brody here and sharing the joy in our experiences together makes me want to have Rylan here to share in the same things. I see so much of Rylan’s features in Brody’s face. As expected, I see it a lot when he’s sleeping. It’s comforting and sad at the same time. I love both of my babies so much.
I feel like I have so much to say but for now I’m going to go so that I can at least complete one post. I would love to know how other moms and dads out there are doing, so please feel free to send a message.