Bittersweet Memories

Shoved back in a dark dusty corner of my daughter’s closet are boxes, old boxes, they have made it through many many moves. The moves to IN (all the many apartments and townhouses we lived in while there), the move to Germany and back (we kept them safe at my in-laws in KY), and our move to IL. Now they rest relatively untouched. The boxes are falling apart, they need to be replaced. I try to forget about them though. They contain pictures and albums from my childhood, college years, and young adulthood. There is one album that is at the very bottom, and I don’t like looking at it. I don’t like seeing it. Memories are tough. They are bittersweet. All life experience shapes, changes, and molds, I can’t turn my back on those experiences, but that doesn’t mean I want constant reminders.

Many years ago I wrote a note, and posted it in the back of the album. It has been on my mind a lot lately, so I went into that back corner, dug around to find the album, and flipped to the back.

Here is that note:

I could often feel you move and I would place my hands over my stomach so I could feel closer to you. It made me feel like I was already holding you and taking care of you. I would talk to you or lightly scold you and tell you to cool it with those kicks. I would give anything to see or feel you move again. How I would relish in it and know that it meant you were safe and happy. I loved you from the moment I knew you were mine. I couldn’t wait to hold you and see you. When they said you were going to be born so early I hoped against hope and prayed that you would be the miracle that made it and you would live. I couldn’t let go of that. If I did what would I have left? As time passed and it became clear that you would not survive I shifted to autopilot and did what I had to do.You had been loved by many and now you were gone. I’m still not sure what to do or think or feel. I know that long before you were born you were a blessing to this family. We will forever be changed because of you. We love you and always will.

My first child was born early. He ended up being stillborn. His name was Owen. Right before they told me he wouldn’t survive they did an ultrasound, and there he was sucking his thumb, unaware that my body was failing him. Instead of keeping him safe and allowing him to grow, my body couldn’t handle the weight and had begun the process of going into labor. I was too far along to stop it, that is what the ultrasound had determined.

I have 5 kids that drive me nuts on a regular basis, but the memory of my first pregnancy often floats in and out of my mind. I am lucky that I have an album full of sweet notes, cards, ultrasounds, and pictures of him after he was born. I only look at once every few years, but it is there when I need it. Back in KY he has a headstone if we ever want to visit. Since we moved away we haven’t, but if his siblings ever want to see it, we know it is there.

These memories are bittersweet, but they are there and they are mine, if I ever need them.

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