Updated: Oct 4, 2019
Some may think that when a child passes that you stop being a parent. I used to think that to some degree. While it’s true that after a child passes you no longer have to worry about figuring out what discipline methods to use, or if they’re eating enough vegetables, or if you’re saving enough to put them through college, it doesn’t mean in the slightest that you’re done being a parent.
I began to realize this while we were planning our triplets’ memorial service. Every decision we made was made with our boys in mind:
Do you think they would’ve liked blue or green better?
Which of their lullabies should we have played at the service?
Chocolate or vanilla for the cake?
Would Ford like this truck or that truck better for his urn engraving?
The same type of questions you’d ask yourself for a child’s party that was living. Well...perhaps not the one about the urn engraving.
I also realized that even though they’re now far beyond this world, I still worry about them to some degree. As someone who believes in God and an afterlife, I find myself wondering things like:
Did they make it to heaven okay?
Are they behaving themselves?
Who’s in charge of the nursery up there? Are they CPR certified?
I know that I don’t really need to worry about those things because they’re in better hands there than they would be here, even with me, but that doesn’t keep me from occasionally wishing that heaven had a nanny cam.
The photo of the rose that accompanies this post is from one of the three rose bushes I had planted in the spring prior to the event that now serves as the dividing line of my adult life: my triplets being born and then passing over a period of 5 days. While we were in the hospital in late May, it was extremely hot and dry and my rose bushes, once lush and full of blooms, died. They didn’t just start to droop and lose blooms, ALL of the leaves fell off - nothing remained but naked, brown sticks shooting up from the ground. They were, for all intents and purposes, dead. I thought about just digging them up, but part of me wondered if they could be saved somehow.
So, I started pruning, fertilizing, and using an organic fungicide just to see what would happen. Slowly but surely a few new leaves appeared, then new green limbs sprouted, and finally, a couple of buds appeared. Two months of dedication and all three rose bushes are now growing and blooming again.
If you are wondering if that was an extended metaphor, you are correct. In the days immediately after losing our boys, what I envisioned of the future was much like those ugly remains of my rose bushes - void of life, beauty, and joy. But then I started thinking that if I were to put the same amount of work into the death of my babies as I did those dead rose bushes, that something beautiful might grow from it. Perhaps death is as dead or as alive as we make it, and we have the choice to let something remain dead (like my roses), or bring new life to it in some way.
While my babies aren’t here physically, they are present in their photos, in their little hats they wore at the hospital, and they are forever present in the indentions they made on my heart. As long as I am breathing, so are they, because I carry them with me. As long as I do work, so are they, because I carry them with me. As long as I’m putting energy into this world, I am continuing theirs, because I carry them with me. And I do all of these things joyfully, because I am still their mother and I carry them with me always.