My birthday comes shortly after we welcome in the New Year and during those first couple of weeks I find myself looking back on what was, and looking ahead at what will be.I obviously can’t speak for all bereaved parents, but I’m guessing that many of you feel the way I do.The New Year brings with it another round of mourning – coming into another year in which Kaleb will not be a part of. It does also bring hope; each year that passes is one year farther from the time that I held him in my arms, but one year closer to when I will see him again.
I sit in my living room and look at the photographs on the walls.Most of them are from 2010, a couple of them are from 2011 on our Make A Wish trip and a handful from the last NTSAD conference we attended with him in 2012.Frozen in time, pictures of a little boy who will always be, four years old.If I change them it will look like he was never really here. Gone from our home, as he is from this world. Life does go on and there are new pictures now of our grown-up children and now, grandchildren.How do you make room for those pictures without replacing the ones already there? How do you make room for the present without letting go of the past?
There are children in our family who will never know Kaleb.Charlee will see herself in pictures (from new born to 5 months old) with Uncle Kaleb, but she won’t remember him and Hannah was born a year after he died.Our nephew’s will have a faint memory of a “sick, baby Kaleb”.They might remember that he lived but since he was unable to participate in their visits, they won’t have memories of him other than him lying in his bed.Is it weird for me to send them birthday cards that include his name so he won't be forgotten? How do I keep his memory alive in a growing family? While I know that pictures fade over time, the grown-up members of his family will never forget him.
I have shared every story of his short life with everyone I know. I will never have new stories, or new pictures of him to show my friends.There are people out there who he had an impact on that I know will never forget him.Several months ago, one of those people told me that Kaleb touched her more than any other child she’d ever met (she works in hospice), she said you wouldn’t think that was possible for a someone who couldn’t communicate or even make eye contact. That’s the kind of effect he left on people – so how do I keep that alive with those who have never met him?How do I share his story with people without being that woman who talks about her dead child? This is what the New Year brings for me, a challenge, with more time that passes, how do I keep him “alive”?
I will never forget, I still think about him a million times throughout the day, always wishing for one more second to hold him in my arms and feel his breath on my neck.To feel the tickle of his soft hair on my cheek and the weight of his head on my shoulder.Time may press on, but it will never erase my memories or my love.