Sometimes my most profound thoughts seem to rise with the steam while "Sharking" the floor. Tempted to keep them to myself, afraid that what my heart holds might cast a shadow on your joy, then trusting that there is someone out there who feels just like me and might need to know that they are not alone, I decide to write.
We all have two things in common. We come into this life and we will leave it. For some of us, we are given an incredible gift. We are there when our baby takes its first breath, and we are there when they take their last. We open and glow and fill with the wonder of that first breath and we wander through our lives searching for ways to fill again, following the last.
But we hold our memories dear and talking about our children is as soothing to us as you feel talking about yours. I know it's challenging. I know that you worry that you will say the wrong thing or make someone feel sad... you won't. We live with that absence every day and the saddest part is when there is no one to open our heart to. We worry that we will see that "deer in the headlights" look on your face or even worse, pity if we mention our child.
Before I wear out the delete button, rethinking every thought, I will just say this....If your heart is full of memories with no place to go, share with me. I take great comfort in knowing that Shannon is surrounded by the loved ones of those of you who have shared your Angels with me over the last sixteen years, and I am too familiar with sadness to ever shy away. What I know, like Oprah, for sure, is that our tears really do flow from the same source.... whether that be from sorrow or from joy and it connects us in ways we may never understand.
Yesterday my favorite 15 year old helped make the traditional Christmas wreaths for the cemetery, a tradition I continue for Mom. Beanie told me over pancakes at Frost's Diner, that she feels like she knows Shannon. When she visits she sleeps in Shannon's room, never hesitating to move all the Stuffies off the bed or laugh about the glow in the dark moon that shines beneath the shelf holding the collection of cassettes from the seventies and eighties. Standing in line at Michael's, she asked me if it bothered me for her to talk about her kitten that is in Heaven. I asked her if it bothered her for me to talk about Shannon. Neither one of us had to say a word... the smile between us said it all.
Conversation about death is difficult, awkward, scarey... but conversations about love are warm and gentle. Death doesn't diminish love. Or erase it or make it less real. It simply requires that we accept a new language... and a willingness to risk being seen for who we really are... who we may have become because of our relationship with death.
I had a dream the first Christmas after Shannon returned to Heaven. I dreamed I was taking cookies out of the oven and turned to see her standing in the kitchen as beautiful and bright as ever and I started to cry. She looked at me with love and amusement and said, "What are you crying for? I've only been gone for a second."
We laughed. I put the cookies down. I held my sweet Angel.
I suppose a second only feels like forever, to us.