Yesterday, I discovered that you can find absolutely anything on the internet.
By anything, I mean gravesites.
It completely caught me off guard when a close girl friend emailed to tell me about this website, www.findagrave.com and that my Elijah was there. It’s hard to describe the emotions that went through me as I looked up his name and sure enough, there was a picture of his headstone.
A person that doesn’t know my family, went to the Babyland section of the cemetery and took a picture of my son’s grave and then uploaded it online. It just strikes me as odd and I can’t pinpoint why. It makes me feel as if Elijah was just a granite headstone and that makes me uncomfortable.
He was so much more than that piece of carved rock in the ground.
Elijah would be 13 years old as I sit and type this blog. It is stunning to say that number out loud because if I close my eyes, his NICU incubator is as clear as if I am standing over him. His miniscule body that fit into the palm of my hand, his enormous brown eyes, the black hair that covered his entire body; these are all images that I can reach out and touch.
My lips can feel the softness of his thick, curly jet black hair as I brushed my mouth across his tiny head. I miss him. Every single day of my life.
My life would have been dramatically different had he lived and I know Caleb would never have been born. Certainly, I can’t imagine my life without Caleb. I would like to believe that, despite their arguments, Isaiah can’t imagine his life without Caleb either. In some way, I feel like Elijah’s death allowed our family to grow in a way that otherwise would have been impossible.
There are various lessons from his death that, with the distance of time, I try to carry out in my life. After 13 years, I feel like I am able to comfort someone in their grief and metaphorically, walk in their shoes. When Elijah died, people told me all those “God” things that are meant to be comforting in a time of grief. “God needed him in heaven”, “God does everything for a reason”, “It was Gods will”. The biggest lesson his death taught me was that those things are NOT comforting to hear.
While I no longer know where I stand on the whole “god” thing, I know his spirit is with me. Secretly, part of me hopes I am wrong about heaven and that I will see him again someday. If not, I know I did the right thing by not prolonging his pain. Out of all of the lessons, that was the one that makes me feel like my time as his mother was not in vain. As his Nanny said to me “Quantity of life is not quality of life.”
The last 13 years have been an incredible ride through the stages of grief and without a doubt, acceptance is a wonderful place. For a terribly long while, I did not believe I would ever reach this place. There was a stretch of time where I was living life in a way that disgraced everyone. I worried what his brothers would think of me but also what he would think.
Elijah’s death should have made me a better person, period. Yet, I was living as if I wasn’t a mother at all. Now that my life is in order, I hope all of my boys are proud of me. As my dear friend Kirsten said to me, “You’re living your life in such a way that you know you could spread out your life for Elijah knowing that he would nod and say, ‘Yep, that’s my Mama, and I love her.’”
I am at peace with his death but oh how I wish he were here with me. Despite my life now, the lessons I learned and my sweet Zay & Kk, I wish he had lived. I wonder who he would be today. Would you look like Caleb (who is the spitting image of the father that they share)? Would he act like Isaiah (who has my personality, wise cracks & all)?
He will always be 24 days old and perfect. I am sure his brothers are envious of that sainthood. A part of me died when he passed away in my arms, but now, thirteen years later, I am finally back to life. Life has never tasted, smelt, felt or looked quite this amazing. Thank you, Elijah, for the honor of being your mother.