In twenty-five years I have yet to find a satisfactory way to celebrate the birth of my stillborn son. It’s not a day on which I can look back and remember smiles and laughter from days gone by. There are no photos to flip through with nostalgic pleasure. My son Cole, 25 years later, remains a mystery to me.
I used to think that maybe I might be able to discern at least a core personality trait simply from the way Cole moved within my womb . . . but that, of course, that was simply the musings of a mother who desperately longed for the child she never knew. I dare say I am not the only mother who has entertained such flights of fancy. And in the three years since Bethany and Katie joined Cole in their eternal home, the unknowns have been magnified.
When I cross that great divide will I meet my son as a babe in arms or will a full grown man, standing tall, shoulders back appear before me? Will Bethany and Katie be forever 20 and 16? Will I be an old woman, grey of hair and stooped of shoulder in their eyes or the woman I was when each one left me behind? Will Cole meet me as a woman not yet 30 and Bethany and Katie with the fifty year old mother they last saw?
I don’t know the answers to the simplest of questions in regards to my children. It is a fruitless pursuit to wonder who they would be today had the events that took each one from me not transpired. But there is one thing I do know. We will know (have memory of) and visually recognize one another. There will be no need for introductions.*
And so, as I find myself once again at a loss, restless and a bit frustrated by the unfulfilled longings of my heart, I also live in anticipation of the day when the waiting is over. When all my questions will be answered and all my longings satisfied.
Then my thoughts circle back to the more practical matters at hand. What to do in recognition of the child who is so much a part of my being . . .
Will there be cake?
Should there be?
Balloons released into the air?
Could we, the three of us who remain, enjoy either or would they just magnify the emptiness of the occasion?
And why can’t I answer this question after 25 years?
*See Luke 16:19-31 – The story of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man clearly recognized both Abraham the Patriarch (whom he had never met as Abraham died before the rich man’s birth) and Lazarus remembering that he sat at his gate covered in sores hoping for scraps from the rich man’s table.