Today is Samuel’s birthday. Memories of this past week replay like a record which conveys not just sound and visual images, but feelings and emotions too. Each memory touches a profound place in my heart which is indelible. The love and friendship and prayers and support from so many have buoyed us and carried us through this experience. Today, I recall these gestures, and these people, with the deepest gratitude and thankfulness. We are blessed beyond words. Again on this day, we are inundated with flowers, meals, cards, and messages of remembrance and love. I am simply overwhelmed. This is God’s love in action.
I have been anticipating this day and this week with apprehension and uncertainty. How should we mark the occasion? How will I feel? What will rest of the family need and want to do? Will it be ok?
My plan has been to celebrate his life and honour our little boy. I have imagined it to be light-hearted and joyful. That is how I want it to feel. We are having birthday cake tonight with the kids and will sing for him and blow out a candle. That makes it a “real birthday party” according to my three year old daughter. Tomorrow we will visit the memorial forest where his name is engraved on a bronze plaque. His presence in our family is as strong and undeniable as it ever was. But so is the missing of him. And despite my best laid plans, that is what is dominating for me at this moment.
God how painful is the missing of him. I am letting myself feel that ache now, letting it hit me and take away my breath, as it does, so that I can find some space for the joy too. Today, the pain is a shadow of what it was on this day a year ago. But how accurate and how precise it is! My stomach aches, my head aches, my heart feels sore and my arms miss the feeling of him in them. I reach them up to the sky wanting to feel his spirit touch my fingertips. And when I cry, my voice sounds not like my own. My cry still sounds primal and unrecognizable even to my own ears. Still. After a year.
But such as it is. Deep breath.
Ok, joy, you can enter…anytime now!
I sure hope she gets here by the time we are ready to have cake.
In honour of my sweet Samuel, please enjoy these poems I wrote for him and his photograph taken by a wonderful woman named Elizabeth who works with the organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. I am so proud to share his story.
The song Daylight is for me, Samuel’s song. Let the lyrics touch you. They are perfect.
When I say “My baby died”‘,
Please don’t shy away.
Take a moment
Then take a breath,
And ask, “What was his name?”
-Shannon Rogers – 2013
May He Be Known
The lives of all our children here
Are witnessed for all to see.
But the life of our sweet Samuel
Lives but in the hearts of family.
I want so much that he be known
Not lost in silent grief.
In honouring his memory
I share his joy and find some peace
Our son shall be remembered,
I tell his story
His picture shown
And every time I speak his name,
Through my voice, may he be known.
-Shannon Rogers – 2013