On October 15, at 7 p.m. Chicago time, my candle was blazing with thousands of others around the world, as we joined the Wave of Light to celebrate the lives of our lost children.
The light blazed on our altar for our son, just a shelf in the living room, really (he has two others in the office, which would have been his nursery). The shelf contains a lacquered wooden box with his ashes, a Cubs hat (which we used to put on the pumpkin with which we announced our pregnancy, so cheekily then, with “I guess the 20-week ultrasound makes it FB official? Ready for harvest April 2014;” of course I can’t find the picture I have in which the hat is actually on the pumpkin, but you can imagine):
A Willow figurine of two blond haired women and a picture of us holding Ander after he had died, in a frame that reads “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take… but by the moments that take our breath away” (which was intended to hold a wedding photo) are also on the shelf. The remaining items are also meaningful.
The Mother’s Day after we lost Ander – our first and only, so far – I had been involved with an online community for fellow babyloss mothers, many of whom were also facing this milestone holiday for the first time. We were paired to give each other gifts celebrating our motherhood, since many would not get any recognition otherwise from their friends or family. I was very lucky to be partnered with a lovely woman in the UK, also part of a same-sex couple, who had lost her son George at 22 weeks. Her family no longer spoke to her, so I worked very hard to send her a meaningful gift. I really enjoyed shopping for all the little items that went into her present (even though the shipping was crazy expensive! I learned my lesson!). She, likewise, spent time carefully choosing several gifts in memory of Ander, and several of them live on the altar:
– A letterpress “A,” an antique, truly one-of-a-kind. She has a matching one for her George. Coincidentally, we have a “Z” that lives at K’s parents’ house.
– A small red glass duck that reminds me of the Loch Ness Monster. She suggested K and I leave it places for the other to discover, to remind us that Ander is watching. A lovely idea, but I like it guarding his ashes.
– A candle, which reminds both of us of grass, sky and clouds – the beautiful colors of nature. I lit this candle for the first time yesterday, and it was perfect for the occasion.
She also gifted us a small kite and some wildflower seeds. In case you wondered, I sent her a CarlyMarie photo with a poem and her son’s name; dinosaur fabric (the same as my son’s only onesie; both of our spouses had bought stuffed dinosaurs for our boys the week before they died); a seashell and G charm on a necklace (the sea was important to them); and a preemie hat I knit in green, blue and white (yes, just like the candle!). I put them all in a shadowbox frame.
She remains my first true link to this babyloss community. Since then, I have made many friends, and there are many children I now remember along with George. But she will always hold a special place in my heart for being the first to personally welcome me into the fold.
Our altar represents the light of our son’s life, and our link to the babyloss community.