“So is your blog going to be mostly about death and grief stuff now or other things too?” my husband asks me over Saturday morning cappuccino on our patio. It was a good question, and one I have pondered at length as well. “Because, you know,” he says, “that would be kind of a heavy topic all of the time. Maybe a bit of a downer?” I’m not sure if he meant a downer for him have to read or a downer for me. Either way, probably true. “No……not just death and grief stuff.” I replied. “It’s about my life as a Mom, and our adventures with our crazy kids. Now death and grieving is just a part of my story too, of our story. I really can’t write one without the other. ”
Here is a perfect example. Two short weeks after Samuel’s death, we decided we needed to return to some “normal” routine for our sanity and for the kids’ sake as well. In our home, on at least one morning on the weekend, it is a tradition and expectation, that for breakfast my hubby and I will produce nothing less than a mountainous stack of buttermilk pancakes, served with maple syrup and either thick cut bacon or locally famous Spolumbos sausages. We agreed that the time had come to return to pancake Saturday. Trying my best to muscle my way back into the happy weekend spirit, I whip up the cakes while my husband mans the meat. I call the big boys up from their video game and ask my three year old son to put the cutlery on the table. Our little girl busies herself pulling her high chair over to the table, and attempts to climb into it. She had just turned two and had been so excited to have her “new real one baby” arrive. It broke my heart to tell her the news. We had explained why Mommy had gone to the hospital and not returned with the new baby, and why my tummy wasn’t so big anymore. We had cried in front of our children and with them, and had all attended Samuel’s memorial service, but the truth is, it was hard to know how much about the death of the baby that the little ones really understood. But pancake Saturday was our attempt to be lighthearted for a little while and not mention the topic of death and the baby for a few minutes.
Everybody digs into the morning feast with enthusiasm. We enjoy a few uncommon and ceremonious moments of silence while all mouths are full. And then our innocent daughter stops eating, looks at me and says, “Mommy? Baby Samuel not in your tummy, right?”
“No angel,” I reply quietly, “new baby Samuel has died. ”
“And Mommy?” she continues, “baby Samuel not coming.”
“That’s right darling” I say, the tears now starting to surface. ” New baby Samuel is not coming.” So much for avoiding the topic.
“Mommy?” She says once again, but more slowly this time. “New baby Samuel not eat pancakes…….. Ever.”
Her big blue eyes are looking straight into mine. There is no doubt now, in anyone’s mind that she really does understand what has happened. I shake my head and reply,
“That’s right sweetheart. Samuel will not eat pancakes. Not ever.”
And that is how it is now in our family. We eat pancakes and discuss Samuel’s death and then tell our three year old to chew with his mouth closed, because real life keeps happening while we encounter death. It is all a part of the same journey. And who says two year olds are too young to “get it” anyway? To a two year old, death simply means no pancakes. Ever.
What a gift to know such simple truth.