Tuesday, January 7, 2014

His Third Birthday: Acts of Kindness

I have to be completely honest.  This was the gentlest birthday so far of them all.  I'm not sure if it's because this is year three, which logically should be easier than years one and two, or if it was more circumstantial.

Evy and Will have had a rough time with getting sick a lot this winter season.  And they were sick AGAIN the week of Evy and Elias's birthday.  So I was mostly just worried so much about the kiddos that I didn't really have time to dwell, relive things in my mind, or pore over Elias's photos like I perhaps would have otherwise.

The love I feel for my children may be equal, but the time I devote to them certainly isn't, and that's just life.  The living are much more demanding than the dead, after all.

Once the children were feeling better (had to reschedule Evy's party and all), it was my turn to get sick.  And sick I was.  Sinus and ear infections, tonsillitis, and the flu.  All at once.  On Evy and Elias's third birthday.  At the time I felt like the Universe was just hating on me again (oh, the ego in such thoughts!).  Then of course I came to my senses and realized people get sick.  And it was simply my turn.

To be fair, we did things in remembrance the day before, on December 8th, because as a family we've decided he should have his own day and Evy her own day as well.  This may not make sense to anyone else, but I don't care, because even if they were both here I would want them to both feel special, as individuals, and I would downplay the twin thing surely.  The happy and the sad have their places, and they intermingle with one another every day, but compartmentalization still helps us feel like we are more properly celebrating Evy and grieving Elias and not "cheating" either of them of those things.

So on Dec. 8th we purchased a toy to donate to Toys for Tots in Elias's honor.  We decorated a tree with ornaments given to us in his memory.  My husband gave me a gorgeous Precious Moments figurine.  We went to the remembrance park where his name and butterfly are engraved, and we said a prayer, letting three baby blue balloons go into the sky for our first born son who would (should?) be turning three.

It felt about as "right" as any of those things can feel, because none of them ever really feels "right".  Your child dying never feels "right".  But what helped was knowing we were honoring him, that he still had his day. 

The best part of Elias's day was that, for the first time, I decided to hold an "Act of Kindness" Facebook event in Elias's memory.  I almost didn't want to mention it here, because words fail to express how incredible it really was.  There's nothing I can type here to communicate that to anyone who might read this blog. 
Here are just a few of the countless things people through Facebook did in honor of Elias on or before his birthday:
Cash donations were made to St. Jude’s, toys were donated to children’s hospitals and Toys for Tots, gifts and cash donations were given to women in shelters, jewelry was purchased and given to newly bereaved mothers,  students “adopted” two needy children to shop for for Christmas, elderly were visited at nursing homes, food banks were donated to, lunches and goodies were made for children at school, money was given toward grocery bills for elderly, donations to March of Dimes were made, a family with a NICU baby was sponsored, and cards were made and given to hospice patients and families.
I wasn't sure if anyone outside of the loss community would participate, but they did.  And it was wonderful.  It brought my heart so much peace to know that good was being done in Elias's name, that he would never be forgotten, that his legacy would be so much more than pain and sadness in the hearts of those who loved him.  I don't have pictures of it all obviously, but here are a few pictures that were shared on his event page that touched my heart:


And his ornament this year:

Loving you for three years, baby boy.  For the son who taught us the true meaning of unconditional love.

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