I know I'm stronger now. I've also had time to settle into my new environment. I miss my family still; but I've gotten used to not seeing them every day. It doesn't hurt so much anymore. And I guess with every year that goes by, in the same way, I get used to not seeing my kids every day, too. The ache will always be there; I'm not ever going to forget. And I will always think of them as my babies... But I also know that they are so much more than just my babies.
They are more than their tiny, unfinished bodies ever were. They are themselves. And while the flesh that housed them for so short a time is gone, and they could not stay here without it, they were always more than that, and what is essential about them still exists. I really do believe that. They are a part of my story, and a part of my heart. They have shaped me as a person, and will continue to shape me as a mother.
I'm so sorry you never got to meet them.
They were impossibly lovely.
I will always be sorry that their siblings won't get to know them, too. That my third child will have all the trials and priveleges and common personality traits of a first. Firstborn, though not first borne. But I hope I can do a decent job of integrating Ailis and Noah into our lives, and that their names will be associated with joy and inclusiveness, familiar and sweet, instead of pain or sadness or separation.
I am beginning to subscribe more and more to the idea of neutrality; the idea that things and events simply Are, and it's what we do with and during and after them that matters.
And so I think I'll not say again that Ailis "should" be here or Noah "should" be here. It is too strong a word, and it hurts too much. And I think, perhaps, it takes away a little from the honor and the rights of the child who comes next.
(The one reason I can think of to be grateful not to have had a subsequent pregnancy immediately after my losses is that I do not have the confusion of bearing a child that "would not exist had the other not died." I'm not sure that I believe in that line of reasoning at all, and I hope it wouldn't have troubled me... but it is good to have the clarity that time and distance can bring.)
I choose to believe that everything that was ever essential about my children is now a part of everything I see. That they are reunited with the universe, and so are not really gone, as nothing that was ever here can ever really be completely gone. Stardust. We are all stardust. We are all made of the same stuff, and always were, and always will be.
So in the future, I will look at my children -- the ones who stay inside the fragile tents of their human bodies, the ones who grow and change and speak and reveal to me, little by little, their specific intricacies; and I will smile and I will love and I will drink them in. But I will also look at the sunshine and the dustmotes and the green growing things and the ocean and the stars... and I will smile at them, too. I will fling my arms wide, and embrace what I may of the vastness of the universe, and all that I love that dwells within it, until I am reunited as well.
For what is to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.