October was a much-anticipated month for my family. When I found out Brayden was due to arrive in October I began to mentally prepare for how it would feel for me to potentially bring home a baby during Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. It was my second October as a loss mom, but it was my first as a loss mom with a clearer head. A loss mom who could fully participate. Who could commit her heart to projects like Capture Your Grief and the Wave of Light.
But it was a complicated month, emotionally speaking.
While I was committed to reflection and spreading awareness. I was also conflicted by wanting to be completely present with our new baby. Not wanting to miss out on moments because I was so focussed on my grief.
But I have come to realize this month, that I can be both. I can be present with Brayden here on earth, and still share my heart with Ryan who is gone. I can cherish the special moments here with Brayden, and miss these moments that we didn't get with Ryan. I can look down at this baby in my arms and memorize his lips, his nose, the way his chest rises and falls with his breath, and cry for the fact that without Ryan's photo, my memory of his few details might be fading away.
I can be both full of joy and full of grief at the same time.
I've been asked to make a promise to Ryan. So here it is:
I promise that there will always be a special place in my heart for you. A place that no one else can touch. You made me a mother. And everything that I am as a mother, everything that I believe to be true about motherhood, I learned because of you. I know that love for a child is ever-lasting. That nothing, no space, time, or circumstance, can change that love. So no matter what experiences come our way, no matter where this life takes us, I will always take a time out from my life here, to spend some time with you. You will always be an important piece of our family, my story. I will work hard to stay present, because I know you would want me to be. But know that wherever I go, I am carrying you with me, too.
So, as October comes to a close, I just want to say how grateful I am. Grateful that I could continue to share my heart. Grateful that everyone reading has been so receptive to the fact that my grief can still exist despite this incredible, beautiful thing that has happened to us this month. I'm grateful for my grief because it has given new depth to my love and joy. And I'm grateful for both of my boys. Both of the beautiful reasons I am mom.
I love that today the focus is on gratitude. It doesn't seem like that long ago that I had promised myself to focus a bit on what was good in my life. Last November I started writing publicly about my feelings through my own little Gratitude Challenge. It didn't fix anything. But it was helpful to refocus myself. And for a few moments a day at least, I forced myself out of my darkness.
Today I'm not in the same kind of darkness. In fact, I seem to be standing in a lot of light right now. But there is something I'm particularly grateful for these past few days.
I'm so grateful for every person who has acknowledged Ryan since Brayden was born. Whether it was in recognizing or congratulating him as a big brother, or in checking in with me to see how I'm feeling emotionally since bringing Brayden home, that kind of thoughtfulness has gone a long way for me. Because as wonderful and relieving as it's been to have Brayden here, I do sometimes wander into wondering "what if" and wishing he was here. Which is a very complicated thing to wish.
So, thank you to the people who understand the complexity of a rainbow. He is the most beautiful part of my world and I love him with a fierceness I never thought possible, but he just can't erase that storm.