The Pain of Remembering. The Guilt of Forgetting.

The events of a year ago are playing heavily on my mind. It started yesterday when I was sitting at my desk, where it was like I was watching myself in a movie that I didn’t want to see. The strange, but not intense pains that made me feel like all was not right, but not exactly wrong. The call with the nurse. The writing down how often these pokes were coming to see if there was a pattern (there wasn’t). And the birds. The ominous black birds that appeared on the tree outside my office window. Of course these are likely the same birds that were there every day, but I remember so clearly thinking there was something eery about them this time.

The replay continued: The body-doubling pain that forced me into a wheelchair as we arrived at the hospital. The red-headed nurse softly, yet forcefully telling me it wasn’t my fault. The look and the voice of the doctor telling us it didn’t look good. The arrival of my parents. The laying awake all night. The pleading for a way to save both or at least one our babies. The arrival of Double A’s parents. The pain. The screaming. The silence.

Step by step, minute by minute, I have been reliving October 9, 2012. It is hard to believe that it has been a year. And it is hard to believe that it happened at all. But at the same time, I feel just how real this is. And so today I find myself somewhere between grateful and awful.

I remind myself it’s just a day, and it only has the power I give it. At the same time, there is an under-riding guilt within me. While I can picture and feel every moment, I have trouble remembering Benjamin and Sarah’s faces clearly. Sure I can remember holding them both in my arms, on my chest and against my knees so I could take them in. I remember kissing them, talking to them, and telling them of our love for them. I remember her nose and his lips. I just can’t put all of the pieces together. My memory is even worse when it comes to Baby K. What kind of mother doesn’t remember what her children look like?

There are pictures that exist of Benjamin and Sarah, but they remain at the hospital in our therapist’s care. I want to look at them, yet can’t quite bring myself to do so as I’m not sure if my partial memory is better than an unstaged picture (to my knowledge it wasn’t taken by a photographer similar to what Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep offers). While there’s added guilt that we said no when asked if we wanted photos, I try to remind myself now that we made the best decision we could at the time.

Then there’s the guilt that we haven’t been back to the cemetery since their funeral. Actually, this is only partial guilt, as Double A and I both believe that while the cemetery may be where their bodies reside, their souls and presence remain with us all of the time. I think there’s more guilt around the fact that we have yet to pick a marker for them. That this somehow prevents the rest of the world of knowing of their existence. I want that acknowledgement for them, and fear that a year later, even those who know of their existence will, or have, forgotten.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, I also feel a tremendous sense of pride and gratefulness today. This past year has shown me yet another level of strength, determination and courage in both Double A and me. Levels we weren’t sure we had within us. We are survivors, and we survive together. That’s no little feat when studies have shown that’s not always the case.

I’m thankful for being able to share here, to connect with others who have, or are, walking similar paths. To learn, and find inspiration from each of you, and hope that by sharing we will all feel less ashamed and alone, and more empowered.

And I’m incredibly grateful for BB. His presence takes nothing away from our other children’s existence, rather magnifies all that we wanted for each of them. We are able to give to him all of the love, hope and dreams that has been building in our hearts and minds. Our experiences have shaped, guided and determined our parenting style, and enabled us to truly appreciate him, and what it means to parent a child (successes and challenges included).

It with these mixed, and conflicting emotions that we live. Today, and every day. Only today we are going to have cupcakes as a way to honor Benjamin and Sarah’s birth. While on some levels it seems odd since their birth was also their death, it is important to me that we find some way to celebrate them and carry on their brief legacy.

What guilt are you holding on to? How do you balance that by honoring your child(ren)?