A good friend of mine gave me a very thoughtful gift this past Christmas. Actually, a few thoughtful gifts. She knows how hard it is for me to go to work every day, surrounded by the countless family reminders that are impossible to avoid. The conversations, the stories. The collage of photos and artwork of children, carefully pinned to cubicle walls. Unexpected visits from sick kids sent home from school or daycare. And the millions of other obstacles I encounter. She knows how much it hurts me to feel like I can’t talk about my son. That I can’t have his photo out for people to admire like other parents. That I’m afraid that people won’t want to talk about him or see his picture because it’s too sad or uncomfortable. Because they know he’s not alive. This friend gave me picture frames for Christmas and the encouragement to set Rylan’s picture out on my desk at work. And yes, I said frames, plural, if you didn’t catch that part. She actually gave me 4-5 different styles to ensure that I could pick the one, or couple of frames, that I felt would best fit such an important image. The gift was amazing. Especially the reassurance that putting his picture out in the open was something viewed as a good thing by someone else. Someone that would surely see his picture every time they stopped by. For that I will never be able to truly thank her.
I will be honest with you. Although I set those frames out on my desk shortly after I unwrapped them, they have remained empty for the past month. Partially because my work schedule has been so busy. But mostly because I was afraid. For the reasons listed above. I’ve also been nervous about reviewing the collection of photos I have in that tucked away folder on my desktop. I know that seeing his little face causes mixed reactions for me, a few which undoubtedly bring on the waterworks.
My recent days at work have been more of a struggle. Today was especially hard. And, tonight, before I left work I thought about my friend and her gifts. I pulled together the courage to search out a picture. I printed it, trimmed it out, and placed it in the largest frame. It’s a lovely wooden frame, placed on my desk to the right, and set carefully beside a photo of me and Chris. I suppose I wanted to see our family together. I did tear up a bit. It’s funny how I have a similar photo on my dresser at home—the same one that I say goodnight to before bed every evening—but for some reason seeing it sitting there at work caused a wave of emotions. I’m nervous about the next few days, what people will or will not say or do as a result of my bold step. But, I feel good that I did something for me, for my family. So that people know I had a son and so they don’t forget about him. So they know that I love him and remember that he is still a part of my every day. That I’m proud to be his mom.
I hope that other parents, walking in similar shoes, will read this and feel the same encouragement that my friend gave me. Don’t be afraid to be proud of your babies and your families. You, too, deserve to be surrounded by your family in your every day and be recognized as parents. After all, you did the most difficult thing a parent ever has to do—you said goodbye.
Love and hugs baby Rylan. Your mommy misses you more than the sun misses the moon.