I was watching Criminal Minds this evening and the episode featured a mother who secretly gave her son up for adoption so that no one would know that his father was a serial killer and sexual psychopath. At the end of the episode, the following quotation (I don't know who the author was) was given:
"The things we do for ourselves die with us, what we do for others live on eternal."
Of course, I see everything through the eyes of my experience. And I like the quotation in the sense that the things we do for our children will live on, even though they do not. And, if we play our cards right, it may be possible to have our baby's legacies become a comfortable and unforgettable part of our family histories.
That is what I want for my son. I want his brother/sister to be proud of him, to love him, and to see him as a valuable part of our family, despite the fact that he isn't physically present with us. I feel that way about my ancestors - I am proud of them and I love them (in a way), despite the fact that I have never had the opportunity to meet them. I realize that our subsequent children will not feel the depth of emotion that I feel or that my husband feels. And I do not ever want them to feel that they are trying to live up to some unachievable ideal that having an angel for a brother would set. But if a small fragment of our love is passed on to our other children, I will feel that I have found victory for my son's legacy.
When I look through my family history, a Canadian pioneer's history, there are several instances where infants died and were buried on the family property. Though the birth and death dates were recorded, it was a different paradigm. Nothing else was ever recorded about these children, though a few lived for almost 2 years. It saddens me that no one ever recorded what their favourite foods were or if there was a special teddy bear or blankie that they loved. Those are the things of memories. Those are the things that we need to pass forward. Who cares about names and dates? We can get those from reading headstones. In our family histories, we need to mark the personalities of those we love.
My son was an acrobat. We would play games together - he would push out on my stomach, pushing it into weird shapes, and I would push back. When he stuck out an arm or a leg in a way that I knew it was an arm or a leg, I would try to grab it through my belly. That would make him mad! He was an independent soul.
He made me crave sweets...he was just like his dad - a chocoholic. He wanted pies and cakes and cookies and, most of all, chocolate. He would dance like a maniac when he had all that sugar - he was very spoiled.
He was very active. He often had the hiccups. When I would lie in bed at night, it would make me crazy. I could feel a tiny, rhythmic bumping way down in my pelvis. Like someone tapping a steady beat on the inside of my cervix. How uncomfortable! And how lovable, all at the same time.
I have never loved anyone in the way that I loved him. I guess that is what people are saying when they say that becoming a parent changes you. The way that you love your child is something indescribable when you haven't felt that love.
Those are the things that I want my children to know about their brother. He was more than a couple of faded hospital polaroids and a granite stone in the cemetery. He would have been a great older brother, with plenty of character to spice up our family. His life, though short, was a life well worth remembering.
That is what I can do for my child.