Now that my rainbow baby is no longer a baby, I thought it was time to revisit the promises I made to him and add some new ones.
1. I will answer your questions.
You’re not a baby anymore and you’re trying to make sense of the world. I will not evade the hard questions you ask about your brother, about death, about our family. This is our story, and we should not be ashamed to talk about it.
2. I will tell you the truth.
It is a hard truth, but I will honor and respect you enough to be honest. Of course, I will be gentle, but I will not confuse you with mixed messages about death and grief (e.g. death is like sleeping). Each family has their own understanding of death and what happens after, but as our family is non-religious we take a practical and scientific approach. There are some books to help with this as well.
3. I will accept how you tell our family’s story.
You are in preschool now, and that means discussion of family in a classroom setting. I let your teachers know about your brother who died so they wouldn’t be surprised, and asked them to let you take the lead. You did, and you shared about your brother which warms my heart. It’s OK if you handle it differently as you get older. It’s your choice what to share and what not to.
4. I will buy you rainbows.
On birthday cards, on clothes, in books… rainbows are gonna be around. Yes, still. Maybe forever?
5. But not everything will be rainbow-themed.
It couldn’t be, even if I wanted it to! You have so many interests and curiosities that limiting our lives to one theme would be impossible. And so, while rainbows will be around, so will trucks, dinosaurs, characters, superheroes, and all the other exciting things to explore.
6. I will include you in honoring your brother.
Now that you are bigger, I will ask for your input on how we honor and remember your brother. Do you want to help make the birthday cake? Would you like to choose the flavor? Do you want to help make holiday ornaments to celebrate him?
7. I will support how you express yourself.
Daddy and I have been very open about Oberon and how we remember him. We acknowledge and support the ways that you have started doing this as well. So far, that’s been turning your morning pancakes into “Obie O’s” and using the yellow crayon because it’s Obie’s favorite.
8. I will ask for extra hugs sometimes.
Maybe I’m just having a sad day, maybe it’s Oberon’s birthday time, or maybe it’s Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Whatever it is, sometimes I’ll be a little extra fragile and want that extra love from you. I’ll ask you for hugs and cuddles, but I won’t make you.
9. I will be YOUR mommy.
I am many things, and one of those is Mommy. Your mommy. This relationship between you and me is special and only ours. I love YOU. I take care of YOU. I am here for YOU. Whatever else I am, remember that I am yours.
10. You don’t have to fix me.
This one bears repeating – it’s not your responsibility to repair my loss mama heart. We love each other and care for each other, yes, but I am Mommy. You are my child, I fix your boo-boos and help you work through your problems. That’s my job. Your job is to grow, learn, love, listen, explore, and play.
I love you, kid.