SoCS: Dear Elijah (written July 25, 2014)

This post is part of Linda G.Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday meme.

Rules and this week’s prompt.

The idea is simple – write a stream of consciousness piece that ties into the weekly prompt.

This week’s prompt is to write a post that ends in a question, with bonus points for including an exclamation point somwhere in the post.

My dear Elijah, our Tiny Tiger, our Sleeping Beauty,

Eleven years ago today, I was shattered. Daddy and I were out shopping for a telephone, while your big brother Jeremiah hung out with Aunt Mary and Uncle Jim, spending his afternoon cushioned from the realities of grief, at least a little.

The phone died a few hours before you did and needed to be replaced, because your Oregon family would be calling to check on you, and we needed to be able to tell them that you had died, that there would be no further updates, and no hope that you could recover, that you would never get the opportunity to live, to grow, to learn, and to come to see and feel and know how very, very much you are loved.

Yes, baby boy. You are loved. Always. I’m your mommy, as much as I am Miah and Lise’s, and your place in my heart and my soul are assured, forever. There are tears in my eyes, right now, as I remember you, as I think of the twelve days when I could touch you, which seem so brief, and the eleven long years of life without you in it, the void that became of the promise of your life.

You left, and yet you are still here. You are the change in the way I live, the way I am. You are in every bout of raucous laughter, every time that I find a better way to handle my anger than to lash out, in the overwhelming sense of peace that permeates our home.

You are here!

One of the great mysteries of my life is how someone whose life came and ended so swiftly, who lived the majority of that abbreviated life in a coma, and all of it within the confines of a NICU, could have wrought such powerful and direct changes – changes that, even if you had been born well, you would have needed years of living to even begin to understand. Changes you never got to benefit from, but which others do, with every breath, every beat of our hearts…

Somewhere, in another part of this country, there is a girl on the cusp of adolescence, if she’s still alive. That’s poignant to me, because, here, at home, you have an older brother also approaching his teen years. While he is strong and healthy, this girl in another part of the country had heart valves that didn’t work properly. If not for you, she would have needed frequent surgeries to replace mechanical valves. Instead, yours have grown within her, with her, pushing her blood through her, giving her the chance to live and grow and feel all that there is to feel, in this life…

And so, on that day, we walked into Sears to buy a telephone. “How are you today?” asked the saleswoman, in a courteous greeting we couldn’t begin to answer. We knelt in front of the row of telephones, utterly flummoxed, and finally, we chose a phone, and took it to the register. After ringing it through, the woman smiled pleasantly, and said the words that lanced and sliced their way into my own heart – “Have a nice day.”

It’s a nice day today. It’s a mellow Friday, not too hot or humid, sunny and a little breezy. Daddy’s gone to work; he washed some dishes and did a few other things around the house before he left us. Your big brother and little sister are mellow and relaxed. We spent last weekend camping, and we’re still feeling a little tired and bathed in the afterglow of good friends and nature.

Would you have loved camping as much as the rest of us? Could I have found my way to being this mom I am, this person I am, today, if you hadn’t come into my life, and gone again, showing me just how precious and fragile life is? Who would I be, if you weren’t a part of my soul?

Jeremiah and Annalise explore memories of and stories of you.

My SoCS offering for this week isn’t an easy one. Thank you for reading these words I needed to write.

Do you find Stream-of Consciousness Saturday intriguing? Remember, anyone can play, so long as they are willing to follow a few simple rules. See you next week, perhaps, for another live-streaming look into the lovely chaos inside my head! =)

Join in or read more SoCS posts here!

What about you? Have you suffered the loss or near-loss of a child? Have you ever imagined life without a living child? Have you expressed your love for those closest to you lately?

15 comments

  1. That’s beautifully written Shan – and the detail about the buying of the telephone was incredibly poignant, got me all teary.

    Thank you for sharing this with all of us, it helps remind us all how precious those we love are to us.

    • The funny thing about that phone was that I hated it once we got it home – it had none of the features we wanted. I will never try to make decisions in moments like that again.

      Life is precious, and death is certain, and, while we have loved ones, it’s maybe best not to take them for granted.

  2. I cannot begin to imagine what it’s like to lose a child. I am more sorry than I can say for your loss. Thank you for your inspiring words. They made me think of my nephew who died when he was 18 months old but he left something behind that I can’t fully describe. I call him our angel, as I’m sure Elijah was and is to you and your family. *hugs*

    • Elijah’s spirit never left. That’s the best way I can describe it. I grieve with you and your family for your nephew.

      The first Christmas after Elijah’s death, a dear friend gave us a little angel ornament engraved with the message, “Your spirit is here.” We put that high on the tree each year, so that he can be a part of our holidays, in some small way.

      We also planted a tree a month after his death- a Colorado blue spruce that’s now taller than any of us by a fair margin. We call it simply Elijah’s Tree, and there’s a certain comfort in it’s being there in the middle of the front yard.

  3. My youngest spent the first 8 months of his life in the hospital. I spent months fearing exactly what you went through, and still, whenever he gets sick I go through it again. One of his valves is mechanical – he will have the surgery again.
    There are no words, simply the function of getting through one day after the next, I think, for both of us.
    Thank you for sharing this. As difficult as it was to read, I’m sure there are others who will be reminded of how precious their loved ones are. I never forget.

    • Sometimes, one breath after the next. I’m sorry that you and he had to endure those long months, and that the ongoing worry is a part of your life.

      I’m happy, though, that it’s given you the appreciation for the fragile, precious nature of life – and that you have your son still with you.

  4. Oh Shan Jeniah, this is such a moving piece that you’ve written. As I’m writing this, I’m choked up and close to tears. You’ve been so brave to write this – I’m sure you don’t feel brave at all, but you are to be able to carry on with your life even though your heart must have been breaking – and probably still is.

    I don’t know what your faith is, if any, but I believe your little Elijah is with Jesus and at peace. It can’t have been easy for you and your husband to carry on without him, but thank you for carrying on and for sharing this with us.x

    • We had a 22 month old, at the time. We knew we needed to give him as normal a life as we could- he was hurt and grieving, too. At almost 13, he still remembers his brother.

      Then, three months later, I got pregnant with Annalise, and her pregnancy was high risk for several reasons. I needed not to worry more than absolutely necessary, for all of our sakes.

      So the initial recovery was a matter of necessity. As time moved on, I realized that I could experience joy and wonder, and become a better mother, in his honor. That really helped.

      I am more spiritual than religious, but I do like to think that Elijah’s soul is someplace wonderful.

      I will miss Elijah and mark his days for the rest of my life, I think. But living life as well as I am able, and sharing him with the world, help. If he grew to be anything like his siblings, he would have been a remarkable person.

      Thanks for commenting. ❤

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