Thursday, March 29, 2012

Immunity

We got to know several families through the bereaved family group we attended for about 18 months at Hopkins. What a benefit those meetings were, and what a blessing to get to know those other families. We stopped attending last fall, as life was getting very busy again, and we no longer felt the need to attend as pressing as it had been before. We have peripherally kept in touch with a few of the families.

We were shocked to receive notice that the father of one of the families had died. They had lost a daughter to cancer, and had told the other parents during sessions that Rick also was in treatment. He never discussed particulars, and seemed to not want to. But last we had heard he was doing well.

I am heartbroken for them.

There is always shock when a young parent dies. I would guess Rick was mid-40s, with three children and a wife who still need and love him. The seeming injustice of Rick's death is overwhelming. And terrifying. Of course, I know that Henry's death does not grant my family immunity from tragedy. But it sure as hell seems like it should. And Rick's death now, even after the death of his beloved daughter, doesn't shield his grieving family either.

In my ego- and species-centric mind it really, really should.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

One Month

E is four weeks old tomorrow. She is thriving. I feel so very lucky to have her. It's a real pleasure to have an infant as an (older) mature mom. With the girls being so grown up, it's sort of like having our first again, but this time we already know what we are doing. To boot, E is a pretty relaxed baby, at least so far.

The third anniversary of Henry's death was two weeks ago. It snuck up on me, as consumed as we were with the newness of E. It was, true to form, a very difficult day for me. The first time that I cried about Henry since E was born. After the actual day was over, things have been easier again in general. I did have one difficult episode, where I found myself repeating a soothing mantra to E that I very specifically recall repeating to Henry on his literal deathbed. Those little mines pop up from time to time, so far not overwhelming, but something that I feel I need to experience, acknowledge, and move past.

Today I took E for her first walk through the neighborhood. That walk has been a bit of a looming monster for me....it brings back very clearly the first walk I took with Henry, almost eight years ago now. Eight years. How is that possible? It was a beautiful day, and the walk was nice, and I'm glad it's over. As I've said many times, the firsts are always hard. As I was walking I was thinking of all of the firsts that are to come...playgrounds, pony rides, fairs, etc. There are so many things we haven't revisited since Henry's baby and toddler years. Now when we go to a park we go to play sports, or attend an event, not to hit the playground. So there will be many firsts to come.

What I have learned is that E's arrival and the joy around it does not diminish the pain, sorrow, and grief of Henry's death, but neither does Henry's death tarnish the love and appreciation I have for E. I am glad for this. I wouldn't want it any other way.