In memory of my son, because every life leaves something beautiful behind...
Friday, August 21, 2009
A Trip Back
Shane and I went back to Vancouver for a getaway this past week. We stayed in the neighbourhood we lived in when we were living down there preparing for the twin's births. It felt like going home in alot of ways but it also stirred up some old feelings of melancholy. I didn't do much when we were living in Vancouver, I was so heavily pregnant with Calvin and Georgia that it was very hard for me to get around. About the only places I ever went was to the hospital for appointments and to our favorite restaurant to eat. I was unprepared for how strong the feeling of connection to Vancouver and to my son until we were there again. Driving past the house we lived in brought me back to the days where I impatiently and uncomfortably waited for my babies to be born. It was bittersweet, my heart was happy to be back but also sad with the memories of those times, of all the hope that was lost when Calvin died. Shane and I had planned on staying permanently at that time, optimistic that Calvin would live and that we would need to be close to Children's Hospital for his cardiology appointments. We had been told that he would need numerous checkups with the cardiology department once he was born and had had his corrective surgery. We had been told to anticipate two to four visits a month and at that point it made more sense to us to stay down there rather than driving back and forth from our home all the time. I'll never forget the day we left, I felt as if I were leaving a part of myself, part of my heart behind as we locked up our home and got in the car to drive back to our lives. It was an empty, aching feeling. A feeling of futility, that we had done so much to give our son the best chance at survival, only to lose him in the end. A feeling of dread coming back to our home, our lives as we had left them, without our son. Being down there again, with Georgia a chubby, smiling nine month old and Lorelei about to turn four, was hugely different from one year ago. Although it seems like yesterday that it all happened, so much has changed in our lives since then. Lorelei's change is remarkable. She is calmer, more well behaved, more articulate than she was last year at this time. As we returned to our favorite restaurant, she was bubbling with anticipation of seeing Steve, the owner, who had treated her with such kindness while we were living there. As we walked in, the staff recognized us immediately and Steve was happy to receive Lorelei's hugs and kisses. We were seated at our usual table and the staff began to inquire about the twins and what had happened to our son. Several times during our trip, I had to swallow the lump in my throat that threatened to choke me into sobbing tears as I remembered times we spent waiting, hoping and praying for everything to turn out alright. I'm amazed some days that we have lived through it. We have definitely come out on the other side different than we went into the situation. There has been more hurt, more doubt, more questioning why than ever before. There has also been a hurt in our marriage, hurt not so much between us but within our relationship because of the devastating loss of our son. There has also been a shift in my thinking, a greater appreciation for all who have supported us through losing Calvin, and an impatience with those who have no idea that their petty complaints are so small in comparison with the pain of losing a child. I have come through with a stronger love for my daughters, a tenderness that tears at my heart sometimes when Lorelei is angry or disobedient with me. Going back was good in alot of ways, a reconnection with the familiar, with the city where my hope lay for so long. Going back was important for all of us. The day our babies were born, Shane's parents took Lorelei to build a bear where she made two beautiful bears for Calvin and Georgia. I had suggested that we take her back so that she could make a bear for herself for her birthday. I had heard from my mother in law that the heart ceremony at Build a Bear was touching, that as she watched Lorelei go through the ritual of choosing hearts for her bears and then the steps that followed, she had to fight back the tears. This time Shane took her to build her own bear and when it came time to choose a heart, she chose two, one for her and one for her brother. Shane stood with tears in his eyes as she kissed the hearts to give them love, and then blew on them to give them life before she put them into her new bear. That ritual brought healing to my daughter and her father, gave them a moment together in love and rememberance. I felt closer to my son in the days we were down than I have in awhile, I think I will always think of Vancouver as his place, the place of our hopes and dreams, the place of Calvin's birth and death. The city and it's memories are woven together with my love for Calvin, a love that was good to get back to.
I have decided to write about my feelings following the death of my only son in November 2008. I'm learning that grief is a process with good days and bad, a lonely road with new beginnings and unavoidable endings. It is my hope that through writing I can come to peace with what has happened to us and our beautiful boy.