A few days after we returned home from Theo’s funeral, one of his nurses came by for a visit. We sat in our family room, the room that was previously home to Theo’s crib, equipment, medication and dressing supplies. The same room where we had held our beautiful boy for the last time, just one week before.
I feel lost, I remember telling her. For the last 7 months, Theo had been the sole focus of our family. Every ounce of our energy and time was devoted to his care. Now he’s gone, and we are two parents without a purpose and without a child.
She reminded us that for the last 7 months, we had been living a life inconceivable to most. Mark and I had normalized it because we had no other choice. And though we would still trade every ounce of normalcy to have him back, Theo’s illness consumed every aspect of our lives which revolved around nursing shifts, around the clock medication, daily dressing changes, social isolation, and the intense anxiety of knowing that at any point, we would have to say goodbye to our little boy.
Her advice to us was this: rest. Take this time to rest physically and emotionally.
I realized that, as the shock of Theo’s passing was starting to wear, I needed time to be quiet and still. And I did just that. I detached myself from most of the world so I could quietly grieve my son and rest my heart. When I use the word rest, I’m not referring to a repose from mourning, quite the opposite actually, a time to just be. A time to let the stillness of grief replace the former restlessness that defined our lives.
But now I’ve found myself being drawn back to my writing as I navigate this complex grieving process, and I wanted to start with an announcement.
Our sweet Theo is a big brother. A week and a half after we laid our first son to rest, we welcomed our second.
Babies born after child loss are often referred to as Rainbow Babies. This is quite befitting as the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm yet in the midst of the darkness and clouds, it provides light and hope. Joy and sorrow dance daily as we grieve Theo’s loss and find happiness in our son, Frederick.
There are now two things that I always wear close to my heart. The first is Frederick, whom, as you can imagine, rarely leaves my arms. The second is an angel wing that I wear around my neck, of which Mark has an identical one. The pair made by the two was attached to the pocket of Theo’s jacket when we buried him.
“Oh my love will fly to you each night on angel’s wings…”