It always makes me laugh to think of my fellow Southerners panicking at this time of year when the forecast is for snow. It is very typical for us to get a small dusting (or perhaps even more than a dusting!) right about now. But it seems that everyone forgets that tidbit of information and instead thinks the world is coming to an end because the “S” word has been mentioned. I used to be one of those people too. It used to irritate me that we were so close to spring and yet winter wanted one last laugh and one last hurrah before leaving us to better, warmer weather. It used to, but it doesn’t anymore.
Something happened that would change my outlook forever.
On March 2, 2010 Joseph Isaiah was born at home. He was perfect and tiny and so still. We knew he would be as I had watched the last beats of his heart on an ultrasound the week prior. But knowing that he was already gone didn’t make it any easier to deliver him that day. I have written here about that journey and how it affected me. I tied my experiences in to Lent and the crosses that we bear and the metamorphosis that we can make when we embrace our crosses and continue to strive towards that perfection in Christ. That message still holds true and still gets me through the rough times. But today, I write to remember Joseph’s passing not in the context of Lent or as my cross to bear, but instead, I write about the need for us to keep his memory alive and how the snow at this time of year helps me do that.
There is a common misconception that it is better to not bring up someone’s loss so that you won’t hurt their feelings and bring them more pain. But truly, most parents who have miscarried, delivered a stillborn child, or who has experienced infant loss will tell you that the opposite is true. Having someone remember your child can hurt (because you still long to hold them) but more than anything it brings you an overwhelming feeling of love simply because someone remembered.
Losing a child, no matter what the age, in my opinion is the hardest loss a person can endure. It goes against what we believe should happen and what we expect to happen. Our children are supposed to bury us, not the other way around. And yet, so many of us have buried a child (or in my case, many children) and our hearts don’t know what to make of the pain. And while the pain is almost unbearable when we are surrounded with people who care, the pain is tenfold when we feel alone. At the beginning there can be many people to comfort you, but soon people move on with their lives. While your life has stopped, the rest of the world keeps on going.
Unfortunately, while life moves forward often our hearts stay at the same place for quite a while. It can be a lonely and dark place. People believe that enough time has passed and that you must be healed and “all better”. Many times that’s just not true. You may hide the pain and not talk about it, but more often than not you don’t talk about it because no one is asking anymore. But there are still triggers and there are reminders and suddenly your heart is ripped wide open again.
To help me through some of those times, I have tried to associate certain good memories with my babies who have died. Joseph has become my Snow Angel. The near blizzard that blew into town and almost kept us from being able to get to the doctor’s office turned into a reminder of him. Instead of thinking of a blizzard, I think of each individual snowflake falling quietly and softly and gently landing on my face. I picture them as kisses from Joseph and my other children in heaven. It brings me great comfort to think of my children kissing me with the beautiful snowflakes that will inevitably fall at this time of year. Instead of being upset about the snow that delays spring, I cherish it knowing that it is a reminder of the day God allowed me to hold a little piece of perfection in my arms.
I have tried with all my might to turn something tragic into something heartwarming. I choose to make a memory that will see me through the difficult and lonely times. I can’t tell you that it always takes away the pain because it doesn’t. But I can tell you that it brings me comfort and brings me peace the majority of the time. It helps me remember him when it feels like everyone else has forgotten. It helps me to know that my son lived and he was here. It is a tangible reminder of his life and his importance. I cherish the snow that falls late in the season as I know it is a precious gift of heavenly kisses from my very own Snow Angel.
What do you do to remember your own sweet angels?