We lost you in the twilight hours of June 4, 2009. It’s hard to believe that four years have passed since that day. Sometimes it feels like you were just in my arms – your face tucked under my chin, my lips nestled against your downy head, and your tiny hand brushing against my shoulder. Sometimes it feels like it all happened a lifetime ago and perhaps even to different people.
We’ve come so far between then and now. Like the transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly, our lives have changed dramatically and completely. Before you entered our world, your daddy and I didn’t really live fully. We worked hard, but we didn’t truly treasure our moments together.
Your life and death refined our priorities, and – because of you – we have found ourselves experiencing so much that we never thought possible. Without the incredible joy of your birth, we would not have know how deeply we could love and how much happiness we could find in the smallest of moments. Without the intense pain of losing you, we would not understand how exquisitely sweet – and how sometimes fleeting – that joy could be.
You brought radiant color into to our black-and-white lives, and that color didn’t fade with your passing. But, for a long time after we lost you, I could no longer see it – I was blinded by the darkness of despair.
I tried to reach you on the other side, talking to you out loud and praying that you could still hear my voice. I searched for signs from you to assure me that you were safe and happy. And, then I began to see dragonflies appearing around me – their colorful wings beating against the summer air. To me, they were symbols of hope and of revival. Perhaps they meant that you could hear me after all. Perhaps you were closer than I once thought. Slowly, with a small light of promise sparking in my broken heart, I returned to life.
Andy, I believe in the signs that you send to us, and I will continue to watch carefully for them. When I am in doubt, I look to the dragonflies, the sunsets, and the rainbows – all filled with glorious color and all alive with meaning – and I know that I will always find you there.
While this may sound like the crazing ranting of a bereaved mother to some, I don’t care what other people think. I know with all that I am that you remain with us, helping us find happiness and giving us hope. I once asked you to send me a sign that you were at peace – and you sent even more. You sent us your little sister and brother.
Right before your baby brother Will was born, the doctor asked me how much I thought he’d weigh. With certainty, I said, “8 pounds, 13 ounces.” Having delivered you and your sister Lucy before, she was sure he’d be much bigger. But, I knew better.
In the spring of 2012, you came to me in a vivid dream, showing me that I’d be holding a healthy baby boy in May 2013 who weighed 8 pounds, 13 ounces. I wasn’t pregnant at the time, but your daddy and I interpreted the dream as a sign from you that we shouldn’t be afraid to try again.
When Will arrived on May 6, 2013 – weighing that exact amount – the doctors and nurses were shocked that I had guessed so accurately, but I wasn’t. They said it was a mother’s intuition. Andy, we both know that wasn’t the case at all. It was a son’s love. You showed me what could be, and I believed in you. Just as we followed your lead while you were sick, your daddy and I still heed your guidance from heaven.
While your angel day is bookended by Will’s birthday in May and Lucy’s birthday in July, June is yours alone. And, it’s such a bittersweet month. The memories of your final days – including some achingly beautiful moments amidst the pain – are etched in my mind. I remember your sweet smile before you went to sleep that last time. The heaviness of your body and the fevered warmth of your skin. The feeling of my heart breaking. The smell of freshly cut grass and turned earth at your grave. The sight of your father struggling to carry your tiny, white casket. But, these memories are not all I have of you.
I take you with me everywhere I go. While I miss you in my arms, I hold you close in my heart. You simply are – and always will be – a part of me. And, I’m not the only one marked by your existence. I see you every day in your siblings. You are alive in your sister’s cheeky grin. In the twinkle of your brother’s blue eyes, so like your own. In the warmth of their arms and their butterfly kisses. They will pass forward your legacy of love. Through them – and thanks to you – we finally have found peace.
Just like a broken vase that has been mended, we have put the shattered pieces of our lives back together again. The sharp edges of our anguish have been smoothed by time and acceptance. The cracks remain, but the glue that holds our family together – all five of us – is strong.
In the twilight hours of each day, your baby brother raises his head and looks towards the ceiling. I recall the way that you looked searchingly around the room on your last day with us. We wondered then if you were looking at the angels who gathered to bring you to heaven. I wonder now if Will is looking at you, and my heart says he is.
So, today, on your fourth angel day, I won’t have to look hard for signs to know you are with us. I will simply close my eyes to see you and hold your brother and sister close to feel you. I will be thankful for your freedom in heaven and for all of the blessings you have given us. I will appreciate this imperfect, colorful life we share. And, together, we will celebrate you, the little boy who made us a family and who – in twenty short weeks – changed the world for good.
I love you, my sweet angel.
Always and forever,