We all have someone in our lives, a friend, a family member, maybe a co-worker, who is always looking on the bright side. A Cheer Bear, if you will. Someone, kind of like the pink Care Bear with the rainbow on her tummy, who is always there to remind you, "keep your head up!" or "better days are just ahead!" Someone who is always throwing around lots of "at leasts" and "everything happens for a reasons."
Most of the time, the Cheer Bears in my life annoy the crap out of me. But I'm about to be one. I think we all need some cheerful, positive thinking every now and then, to keep us from jumping into that pit of bitterness I've talked about here before. To keep from going absolutely insane.
So *WARNING* Before proceeding any further, please be aware that there is going to be some serious cheerful, positive thinking going on here. If you are in one of those moods, where the very mention of "looking on the bright side"of your child's death makes you want to punch someone in the face (and believe me, I've been there!), then I suggest you stop here. If you do keep reading, and you feel the need to send a "virtual" punch in the face my way afterward for being so darn positive, I also completely understand. :) Alright, disclaimer over.
Continuing right along with the "beauty from ashes" theme, I wanted to thank you for a few things that have happened as a result of your life/death; "gifts" that you have given me, Baby. Obviously, a lot of heartbreak and sorrow have come out of this mess, but whether I want to admit it or not, so has a lot of good. Gifts like:
- A better relationship with Dad. We had a pretty great relationship before you died, but the last eight weeks have brought us together on a completely new and deeper level. I fell in love with him all over again, in an instant, the moment I saw him hold you, look into your peaceful little face, and tell you how much he wanted you. That loves has continued to grow as he's taken care of me, been so strong for me, and showed so much grace to me, in the days and weeks since coming home from the hospital. I've come to appreciate how lucky I am to have such an amazing partner to go through life with.
- Closer, more authentic friendships. Yeah, there have been a few friends that have drifted out of my life since you died, but the ones that have stayed? They have made me feel so loved, so cared about, and I am so thankful to have them in my life. The way some of them (you guys know who you are) have "stepped up" during this horrible, trying time, has been completely humbling and truly inspiring. A lot of people will never know who their "real" friends are, but I do. There are people who I had no idea cared about me so much until you died, and people who I have come to realize didn't care about me as much as I thought. There are friendships that will probably dissolve because of your death, but many, many that will only become stronger and deeper in the midst of this tragedy. I am thankful to know who my true friends are, and to know I have so many of them.
- A deeper appreciation for my family. I've always known my parents love me, but your death has made it all the more obvious. I could write an entire post on this one (and I will, someday), so for now, I'll just say this: I don't deserve the amazing love and patience my mom and dad have wrapped me in since you died.
- A deeper appreciation of life. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know this one is super cliche and overused. But it's also true. I always had a really hard time wrapping my head around the idea that there was an actual baby in me while I was pregnant with you. Even though you died, the fact that such a beautiful, perfect little being, with 10 tiny toes and 10 tiny fingers, was created in and came out of me, makes the miracle of life so much more real and, well, miraculous.
- A better understanding of myself. If someone would have told me my baby was going to die, I would have said, "there is no way I could survive something like that." If that same person would have told me my baby was going to die and I was going to be able to tell my story on TV without crying, just seven weeks later, I would have laughed in their face. I have been shocked by my own strength, by my own resiliency. I have a new confidence in myself and I really like that.
- A better understanding of God. Okay, maybe "understanding" is not the right word. Truthfully, your death has made me question my faith more than I ever have. But, I think that's a good thing. At least I'm questioning. At least I'm trying to understand. Before any of this happened, I didn't think about God much at all. There's now some dialouge happening between the two of us, God and I. Most of what I feel towards God right now is anger and confusion, but that's better than feeling nothing at all, right?
- This "baby loss" community. I don't know what else to call the support, love, and genuine understanding I've received from other women who have one through the death of a child, other than a gift. A true blessing. I never really understood how people could develop actual friendships with people online, but now I know it's possible. Of course I wish we had all "met" under different circumstances, but I am so thankful to count myself as part of this extraordinary group of women.
- A renewed faith in humanity. This experience has reminded me that there are still lots and lots of good people out there. Strangers who have sent flowers and cards and jewelry. People who don't even know me who send encouraging emails everyday. It's been incredible.
- A renewed spark of creativity. I realize now how much I love to write. Although I wish I had a better subject matter to write about, I've rediscovered a passion of mine that had been all but forgotten before you died. Photography too. These are two things that make me very happy. Thanks for bringing them back out in me, Baby.
- My overwhelming desire to be a mother. You made me a mom, and I now know it's all I ever want to be. I think I will be a better, more loving and involved mother to your brothers and sisters because of what I went through losing you. They will have their big sister to thank for so many things someday, Stevie.
- A greater capacity to love. You showed me what it means to love, to truly care about someone more than myself. I never knew I could love someone so much until you. I loved you from the moment I found out I was pregnant with you, and when I first laid eyes on your face, I knew I would have given my own life if that would have meant saving you, sweet baby. Not to say that I will love my future babies more than a mother who hasn't lost a child, but I do think it will be a different love. It's kind of like that saying, "only those who have experienced true sorrow can experience true joy." I don't know if anyone can understand this kind of love I already feel for my future babies unless they've lost one. I certainly can't explain it. I just know it will be a love magnified and deepened because of you.
Alright, enough with all the rainbows and sunshine and happy thoughts. Cheer Bear, signing off.