Friday, April 25, 2008

My spirit child

There are those children who just seem to have a larger sense of what is going on, and Liam is one of them. Look at his face. Even at four years old, I look at him sleeping and I see Charlotte, etched so vividly in his every feature. It is remarkable. And he says the most amazing things.
Today, I did a lecture to a group of nursing students at the University of Massachusetts. One of the students asked me how Charlotte had been incorporated into our family. I explained how her pictures were around the house, and how we lit a candle for her at each meal. I told them about how she has a matching plate, and shadow box, and birth announcement, just like the other kids. "But somehow," I told them, "My son just knows there is another child, one he cannot see. He will ask me if we have five people in the family. He will tell people he has two sisters. These are not things I tell him to say, he just says it."
This is true about Liam. Somehow, he just feels her. I know that her presence is very alive in our house, we do speak of her often. But he feels her deeply.
Tonight he stayed up late, arriving home after a birthday party, we found his grammie planting pots in our driveway with flowers. We stayed outside as darkness fell, and as the light dimmed he spotted the first star. At first, I thought it was an airplane, but then I realized that it was there, next to the airplane, a twinkling star up there in the twilight.
We recited the poem, you all know it:
Star light, star bright
The first star I see tonight
I wish I may, I wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight.
I told him he could make his wish quietly, or out loud. I waited for him to wish for a new dinosaur or a cool scooter.
"I wish that Charlotte could come back to life and come and live with us," he said.
How does he know to say this? How does he feel that this, too, is my unsaid dream, that such a thing could happen? And he asked me what my wish is, and I told him the wish that I really do say when I blow away an eyelash or snap a wishbone, "I wish that my children will have long, safe, healthy and happy lives and will live longer than me. I wish Charlotte is safe in the stars and knows how much we love her."
I held him tight.
Later, Greg came home. Liam was holding a little stump in his hand. "I'm going to throw this way up into space and Charlotte can have fun sitting on it," he said. Again, she appeared. I wondered how this dark night had evoked so much of her.
Then, brushing teeth, there was a little baby toy on the counter. I had found it when I was moving some things from the nursery into Aoife's new room. It had been a gift to Charlotte.
"What's this?" said Liam.
"Oh, it's something that was Charlotte's" I answered.
"Did she ever use it?"
"No, she never got to use it."
"Maybe if she comes back to life she can use it."
"Oh, honey, Charlotte's not going to ever be able to come back to life."
"Maybe the tooth fairy will bring her back. If the tooth fairy brings her back, then she can use this toy."
I squeezed him a little. I wish my little boy didn't have to think such big things. He is such an old soul. I love him so much.

1 comment:

stephanie said...

It is beautiful that Liam is so perceptive and sensitive. It warms my heart to hear how thoughtful he is about his sister. I think that he is a very,very special little boy.