Last year the baby memorial fell just two weeks after we lost Nathaniel, and it felt like perfect timing. We met several other couples who had lost little ones also, and felt the freedom to talk about Nathaniel openly, without worrying over making someone uncomfortable with our honesty and pain. It was a good experience.
So last night we headed back to Portland Adventist for the baby memorial. The group had at least doubled in size from last year. Again, it was good.
A few things stick out the most in my mind from last night, one of which was when someone said that everyone in that room was part of a crooked fraternity, where what we have in common is the death of a child. Too true. Even though every story of loss Nate and I heard last night was totally unique, each ended in the same way.
We lost Nathaniel just over a year ago - other people in that room lost their children as far back as 27 years or as recently as a few months ago. Whatever the case, each loss still felt fresh.
But that doesn't mean that we've been unhealthy and wallowing in grief - the reality is that we have a son, he's just not with us right now. Our daughter is coming, in one way or another, and very soon! She didn't stop moving during the entire service - Nate said that she must have known where we were and felt comfortable because that's where she'll be making her arrival in a few weeks. She was sharing her excitement with me, I suppose!
We were blessed by last night's service, by the roses and tiny feet pins, and by the remembrance tree and Nathaniel's name being said aloud. I know it must be scary for people to bring up Nathaniel by name to Nate or I, but in truth it is such a balm - the fact that others remember his existence means the world to us. True, you run the risk of tears on my part, but more likely than not they're from the pleasure you've given me by saying Nathaniel's name out loud.
Somebody said it was all for the best,
That something was probably wrong.
Somebody said it was meant to be -
Different verse, same song.
Somebody said, "You can have another!"
As if that would make it alright.
Somebody said, "It was not a real child."
Somebody's not very bright.
Somebody thinks it is helpful
To say when grieving should end.
Somebody shows their true colors -
Somebody isn't a friend.
But somebody said, "I'm sorry,"
And sat quietly by my side.
And somebody shared my sorrow
And held my hand while I cried.
And somebody always listened
And called my lost baby by name.
And somebody understood
That I'd never again be the same.
I was changed when Nathaniel died. As much as I might like to go back to when I didn't know what it meant to lose a baby, I can't. Something else that someone said last night echoed my heart closely when it comes to this: My new normal is in the here and now, with the reality that my baby died. As difficult as that is at times, I can live with that, but only because of my faith and the fact that I know I have all of eternity to get to know Nathaniel.
To our new friends, if you're reading this, blessings to you and we're praying for God's best in your life. And, Lorrie, thanks for making the 12 pounds of fudge - what a feat!