The Same Day, Every Year

Well…its always comes, doesn’t it. The same day, every year. December 7th. The day I got to be a Mom for 3 whole hours. I hugged him, loved him…sang to him (“Go Tell It On The Mountain,” since I knew exactly where he was going after his brief pit stop with me) and kissed him. A million times. I tried as hard as I could to memorize each and every contour of his face. What he didn’t have was a distinct smell. He smelled like the wind. The nurse said it was because his body hadn’t developed fat yet, that that happened during the last 3 months of pregnancy, a luxury taken away from my son. But, he was warm. And his heart was beating. Without oxygen, as he couldn’t breathe. But his heart beat for three hours. 5 years ago today. His name was Raymond Peter.

He’s buried in the historic part of our Maine community’s beautiful cemetery amongst headstones several hundred years old, and tall pines that have survived even the heartiest of winters for generations, watching us humans go through the rituals of life and death, agonizing over the mundane and celebrating the meaningful. The trees have just stood there, and watched.

I have a wonderful person in my life now who helps me plant lilacs by his grave in the summer and place a wreath in the winter. We bring him an American flag on the 4th of July, and sometimes we just go there to pray. Life has continued, summers have come and gone, love has died and bloomed.

But today, I pause. To write this. To bring light to the loss of motherhood, that so many of us women, in one way or another have experienced, but don’t talk about. It helps to comfort me, to talk about it, connect with others, and remember Raymond. Losing a child is not something one “gets over,” but one learns how to transform. We learn how to take all of that love and put it somewhere else, to help other things grow, for the earth, for people…for whatever we are called to. It’s how we keep the love and spirit of our children, their energy, alive. By living for them.

The grief is still real, and yet oddly sweet in its pain, at this point. Its just the pains of motherhood.