I've been tagged (and for the very first time!) by Catherine, who has challenged me, a mother with a child you can't see, to post a photograph that captures my experience as a mother - as a real mom.
As it was explained to Catherine by the person who tagged her, "...real moms sometimes have children you can’t see. This meme goes out to all the mothers who don’t get tagged for things like this. the ones who’ve given birth but had no baby to take home. who sit on the sidelines of conversations about mucous plugs and back labour, with stories to tell but no room to participate. who have a little gravestone or an urn or just a memory in the place of a child. who have adoption papers saying “relinquish all rights…” or ultrasound photos but nothing more. or who have two smiling school photos on their desk, but really, inside, count to three when you ask “how many kids do you have?” This is for all the real moms with children invisible to the eye."
I thought long and hard about what to choose. And then I remembered the picture I lovingly chose to tuck inside Thomas' coffin.
Because we did that. We each wrote a letter to our boy and we each chose something special to place in the coffin with him. At the time I believed I was doing it for him - so he'd know that we loved him. So he'd know how much we cared. So he'd have something - some little part of the world he never knew - tucked safely beside him for always.
I now recognize that it was for us too. Maybe more for us than him. But lost in our grief and facing the reality of burying our only child, we needed that comfort. We needed to have some of us stay with him forever.
And so on the back of this picture I wrote a love letter to my son:
We were just a few weeks away from conceiving Thomas when it was taken. We're looking up and smiling into the heavens, and that's the way I was desperate for Thomas to see us. I wanted to protect him from the unbearable pain I was feeling and make him believe that I would only ever think of him with a smile on my face.
It was a lie, but I think under the circumstances it was a beautiful lie. And one I'm not ashamed of because of the deep love that drove me to tell it.
And now (because as Catherine said, there are many real moms with children you cannot see) I tag Sherry and Laura.