I had no idea.
I couldn’t believe it. As I picked the box up from my porch, and saw the sticker, I got a sick feeling in my stomach.
I wanted to run. I didn’t really even want to pick it up because I didn’t know that I’d want to know. I have found out (the hard way) that there is so much protection in simply not knowing.
But I did want to know. I’d not gotten that privilege when he’d been born. Did not take advantage of the opportunity to go to the hospital he’d died at to see what it felt like. Was too afraid to ask at the funeral home.
WHY? WHY did I worry about what other people would think? Why did I care if they thought I was morbid? Wasn’t grieving right? WHY did I let my concerns about their concerns stop me from holding him–at least just once?
I still don’t know.
I wasn’t brave enough to order anything when he died. I wasn’t brave enough to ask for much from anyone when he died. He wasn’t ‘miscarried’ or born still or premature, and he didn’t die from a condition that prenatally set him on a course to pass away before he could really live.
He died the day after he was born. Perfectly healthy, but stolen from me forever by a labor complication that is so rare, my OB told me, “It’s the stuff we pretty much only read about.”
I didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere, in this group we call the ‘Babyloss Community’ so I didn’t really feel like I had the ‘right’ to order anything commemorative.
Fit in. Rights. Better. Worse. Harder. Easier. NONE of those words should be in the thoughts or vocabulary of any who have lost a child, and still…they are, aren’t they? Again, I wonder why.
I’m not sure what made me order this year. There’s something about being almost five that seems magical and miserable to me at the same time. He’d be five this year. The day after Thanksgiving this year, he’d turn five.
I guess my heart needed to know.
So, I placed my name on the Molly Bears wait list when it opened, paid my (very small, and in my opinion, very gracious) fee and figured I’d see what Matthew would have felt like in about a year and a half.
Wrong. His bear came today. Barely six months after I asked for it.
When I picked up the box, I instantly knew something was wrong. There was NO way they got the weight right. It was far, far too heavy. When we brought Luke home, he was only five pounds, ten ounces, and he felt like air in my arms. This box that held my bear was heavy. Dense. Impossible for it to be the weight of that sweet little baby I’d never held.
But it was. Let me tell you, those amazing people who do this precious work at Molly Bears are magic. I have no idea how they did it, but they did. This bear weighs exactly what Matthew weighed at birth.
I held it. In my arms. Sat for a minute, imagining what it might have been like to hold Matthew like that. Only for a second, though…because thoughts and images are not always pretty when I allow myself to go there.
Nearly five years is his lifetime, and yet…the demons I fight as I imagine are strong, and they make me think it was just yesterday.
Yesterday. I just had him…and lost him.
I’m not sure what to think about what I now know six pounds, six ounces feels like.
It makes me cry. It makes me grateful.
It bears a weight that is betrayed by its diminutive number. A weight that I feel so often these days as fall approaches. The weight that reminds me how quickly things change and how desperate I am sometimes to just not have any idea at all what this life is like. The weight is heavy with words and pictures I can’t escape; thoughts I want to pour out but cannot and the burden of them seems overwhelming at times. The weight is distinct and abstract at the same time. I think it is just inexplicable and yet, completely understandable, but only to those who’ve had to bear the weight themselves.
I know this, though. Six pounds, six ounces was and will always be a gift. The gift of motherhood…the gift of gratitude…the gift of precious memory.
I am grateful.
There are many organizations such as Molly Bears that donate their time and efforts and resources to mothers and fathers all over the world. If you are such an organization, please leave a comment so we may thank you and share your cause. If you have benefited from any such organization, and would like to publicly thank them, please do so as well.
I’m small, but scrappy! I have a fierce passion for my family, friends and life in general…I’m a military spouse who has battled infertility for over 13 years, as well as the loss of two babies gone too soon. I love to laugh, and am grateful for every second I celebrate with the ones I love. You can find me at Lori Does Maryland