What is it about pain the draws us in, pulls us near, then forces us to stay a while? I know it’s a loaded question and I promise I don’t have a long dissertation prepared to answer the question. Tragedy strikes us all at one point or another, but maybe some more than others and maybe some of us experience more tragedy because we view more losses as tragedies. Before you think I’m some optimist who will just tell you to change your point of view (read my other posts and you’ll know I’m not exactly an optimist), just hear or read me out.
I’m about to have my first baby. I’m 9 months pregnant and incredibly anxious to hold my little girl and see her gassy smiles. This is my 7th pregnancy and she is the 8th baby I carried (had one set of twins). So if you know anything about birthing a stillborn you’ll know that the hospital gives you a keepsake box. In it is stuff like photos of your baby who didn’t make it, sometimes their mittens and hat, and in all of my boxes is each child’s baby blanket that they were swaddled in.
The boxes go untouched for the most part. There’s one at my mom’s house too. No one looks through them well because let’s face it, it’s sad. But no one is quick to throw the boxes away either. It’s like we’re scared that if we throw them away we’re scared that it means we’re wishing to forget the babies. How can we forget them? They changed our lives, the experiences brought us to our knees, it tested our faith. So why are we so scared to let go? They are forever part of us. We don’t need things in boxes to remind us of them. We know their names. I’ve seen their faces. We loved them.
So why is it so hard to toss away the boxes? Someone may ask why do I even want to? Well, I’m not really interested in having relics of sadness hanging around when we’ll have so much joy with the baby. I don’t foresee us sharing photos of the past babies with out one day toddler. The sadness doesn’t need to be passed on does it? I just find it interesting that we somehow feel like we honor the ones that passed by holding on to the pain or the symbols of that pain. For some of us it’s the same when a parent or a close relative passes. We somehow think that we need to keep pieces of clothing or keep their room the same in order to honor them. It must look like we’re sad that their not here.
I for one don’t want to keep looking for ways to feel pain in order to honor what has passed. When I think about it it’s rather silly. I can’t imagine that those children would’ve grown to be people who would wish me grief for so many days of my life. My memories are not in those boxes and frankly neither are my children. I’ve gotten rid of boxes in the past. The ones from last year seem to be the hardest to let go. I can’t say today is the day but I know one day soon I’ll toss those boxes and keep the memories of those I loved and not force myself to see them as those I grieve.