In honor of the day, here is what I wrote for this year’s memorial service. Thank you again to all of you who came and made it such a lovely remembrance of our babies.
All I Can Do
Life has been crazy lately, full of extra family necessities that fill up all my time. Planning for this memorial service was squeezed into leftover corners. I’ve been so busy that I told somebody today that I might actually have to read somebody else’s poem that I found in case we had a last-minute volunteer to read. She suggested I read something I’d written before, and I balked. I can’t read something old, or something written for someone else’s child, no matter how well it relates to mine. I have to write something, like I have every year for the past decade. I have to, because it’s all I can do.
We parents with empty arms don’t get to plan birthday parties for our missing children. We don’t get to go school shopping, or get excited over big events, like homecoming dances and track meets. We don’t get to do the big things, like graduation parties and weddings, or the little things, like dentist appointments, homework, and Halloween costumes. All of those are nothing but might-have-beens, wishes that can’t come true. We may think about them, all the time, and even talk about them with each other and those rare and wonderful people who make us feel safe. But, once a year, we can light candles, we can say our babies’ names, and publicly be their parents. We can do something for them. This is their day.
It doesn’t matter that I know it wasn’t my fault my babies died. I still feel like I failed them. My body failed to protect them, failed to bring them safely into the world. I can’t fail them at this one thing I can do.
There are so many things I wish I could do. The most important ones are the smallest. I would give anything to hold your hands, to tuck you in at night, to make you laugh. I want to stare at you and memorize the shape of the back of your neck, like I do with your brother, or the way the sun lights up the highlights in your hair, like your sister’s. I want to hug you, from tiny baby size, to how-can-you-be-this-tall size. I want to know who you would be.
I can’t do any of those things. So I’ll write them down, and read them to my friends in this club none of us ever wanted to join, and I’ll light my candles, and I’ll say your names. Because that is all I can do.