20150411_135304 Homer and I are visiting home for awhile, or as we are calling it: Summer Camp at Nana and Papa’s. My parents live within 2 miles of Rowan’s quiet place–a wonderful, yet heart-wrenching convenience. It’s a stretch, as you can see in the photo, to lift him up to Ro’s nameplate, but it is important to me as we begin to develop (if only in our minds) methods to integrate Rowan’s story into Homer’s life. One of my favorite ideas comes from a picture I saw of a young boy playing in a sandbox his parents had placed at his older sibling’s headstone for the children to “play together.” As Rowan is buried in a mausoleum, our approach would need to be a little different. When the time comes, I will ask permission to put a small sandbox under the tree directly in front of his space. We have a solar powered light (different for every season) that we keep in the flower vase making Ro’s spot easily recognizable when we drive by in the dark. We also have a rotation of seasonal items we update as our want dictates. Soon, we will be changing his springtime cross with a more summery display. Ro’s Valentine remains, because it is simply a symbolic message of our unending love for him. These decorations, these little things (as they may be seen by others) are just a minute fraction of the ways bereaved moms and dads parent their child who is no longer physically with them. I can only speak for myself when I say the emotional toll even this little part takes on me is immense. It’s never good enough for me; I always feel there should be more when it comes to memorializing my first son. I have to remind myself of the truth: there is more.

I pray for him, for his soul. I do things in his memory all the time: I pay it forward at the coffee shop, I donate time, money, or items in his name. I have more patience because of him. I remember to take my face out of my phone to pay attention to what is going on around me and live life; I don’t want to miss something important when it comes to Homer because I know too well the sorrow of missing out on Rowan’s entire life. I feel the sorrow of Rowan missing out on his own life…

And these take a toll on me as well. O, how grief can age you!

But then again…

I live each moment of every day cherishing my nearly 8 month old sunshine (8 MONTHS)! He makes me feel young again. He revives my exhaustion. He causes my heart to swell with love, pride, and joy. I’ve said it many times before, and will likely say it again: as grieving parents, we live in at least 2 very different worlds. In one, we walk alongside an immeasurable amount of anguish and grief as we long for our lost child(ren); in the other, we may be fortunate enough to witness the wonder of our living child(ren) as he/she becomes, day by day, the person he/she is to be.

The juxtaposition of these realities is something only we who have lost so much really know.

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