Survivor’s Guilt. A letter to my other son.

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Dear Casey,

I think this time of year will always make me happy, but with a twinge of sadness. I remember how I gave birth to your brother, Gavin, and we beat all the odds. Despite everything (low progesterone, loss of twin, 2 subchorionic hematomas, preterm labor, kidney infection, tachycardia, preeclampsia, and a partridge in a pear tree), he was born. And we both lived. What a victory! Except it was bittersweet because you weren’t with us.

No, you grew your wings and flew to heaven a few months earlier. What a crazy situation for a new mother to find herself in: joyful at the prospect of the coming birth of one child and deeply grieving the loss of another child. I was the epitome of contradiction. A mother of twins, one on earth and one in heaven. The very definition of conflicting emotions.

I often think that was part of what fueled my postpartum depression. It was so much to process: how did two of us make it but you didn’t? What could I have done differently? Why didn’t my body protect and nurture you like it should have? Survivor’s guilt is a hard thing. There were many times after the doctors started worrying about my heart problems that I actually thought it would’ve been easier if the 3 of us had all gone to heaven together. At least I’d have my children with me.

And now, on the brink of your brother’s 2nd birthday, I am saying goodbye to the world of babies. He’s a little boy now. I just want you to know, I’m not saying goodbye to you. You will always be my little baby and I am so grateful for my faith in Jesus Christ and the enduring promise that we will meet one day. I’ll hold you in my arms! What an amazing day that will be.

But in the meantime, it’s time to let go of the guilt. What I’ve learned these past few  years is that a mother’s love is mystical. It’s one of the strongest powers on earth and it’s all consuming. It transcends life and death. And my love for you is constant. So instead of letting the past hold me back, I’m pushing forward. I’m focusing on bettering myself, inside and out. And I think that’s the best way I can honor you.

I used to dwell on how long it’s been since I carried you in my body. Every day that went by seemed to be one day further away from you. But, actually, I need to look at it the other way. With every day that goes by, I’m one day closer to seeing you again.

And when I cross that finish line this November? I’ll be looking up at the sky, sending you my love.

Forever and Always,

Mommy

 

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