Sunday, January 10, 2010

Musings on family




Every now and then I consider the fact that I have now birthed four babies. It makes my head spin with each one, as my family grows bigger, as brothers receive sisters and sisters welcome sisters and still the candle glows on our dining table. I often wondered to myself if I would always be playing catch up. Would my family always seem too small, because we'd always be missing one? How would I ever feel like I had enough children around my table, as long as that candle was glowing?


And so where am I now, now that three are here? Three that is significantly more than the tidy two, two where there is a hand for each child and a parent for each child (in our household). I thrive on being outnumbered, and there is some feeling of relief in simply being here. After Aoife was born, I had a son and a daughter, and my Liam had a sister, but I still felt as if I was running on a gerbil wheel. My daughter did not have her sister! What if I couldn't get pregnant again, because for a while it appeared I could not? What I never had another daughter and my Aoife never had a sister here with her? There were things that I felt I needed my children to have, to make up for having lost Charlotte, and they weren't here.


And now they are, in the form of Fiona Clementine. Our family has broken out of the tidy box. Another sister is here. So the ends of the frayed knot are smoothing themselves out. I feel like some logistics that kept my head spinning have been relieved somehow.


And now, I am free to miss her. I am free to know I am missing this child, this eldest daughter, and there is no way left to scheme about how I might go on to try to produce another child that might alleviate some of that missing piece for our family. I am left to simply stare at that glow in the midst of our dining room table, to ponder that the six chairs around it would, in theory, all be full if she were here.


There is some feeling of settling for having had Fiona, and I feel in my heart that Charlotte chose her for our family for just that reason. She is the baby that has freed me somehow. At the table now, when we light that candle, the children as always offer their blessings. Aoife's blessing always comes in the form of a conversation.
Sarlotte, I wish that you could not be dead and that you could be alive so you could be here to share this lovely meal with our family. And we miss you and we love you.


And Liam offers his own blessing, We love you Charlotte, usually, and now he offers one for Fiona, as well, making some other statement about missing her and wanting her to be here to share our day.


It's strange how she's settled into our family, Charlotte has, as the kids have grown older. When they first started to say things like this, I could have cried every time. Now it's routine, part of each and every meal around our table, and it makes me smile. I thank them every night. And I mean those thanks, because my children have no obligation to love Charlotte. They did not know her. They weren't here to catch wind of the hope, and joy, and love that she brought into our lives. They benefit from it, of course, but they live in the wake of her impact, so they can't see it directly. But they love her, they love her for real from their hearts. And I am so grateful for that. I could not make them feel that way.


This journey just keeps on going. How incredibly different it is now, edging towards seven years since she slipped from our grasp. Three children later seems like a long time, like a long road to have traveled. Now that Fiona is out, and here, and I'm not living with the daily terror of reliving the loss, I feel an eerie distance from the whole experience. Like I had been floating for a long time, hovering over May 13th, and now I have landed. I can see it, clearly, across the water, but I have landed.

8 comments:

Hope's Mama said...

Beautiful, Carol. I am so happy for you all.

Sara said...

Glad you have landed. I love this image of your kids remembering the big sister they did not get to meet. I remember being comforted the very first time I met you by the was Charlotte seemed so integrated into your family. It made making Henry real to brothers and sisters who might come after him, without ever knowing, seem possible, which already in that first month after losing him I worried about.

Lareina said...

I totally understand that feeling of never having enough children. Before Kaelen was born, I was firm with 2 kids... When we found out he was a boy, I was so happy because I would have 1 of each and our family would be complete and I wouldn't have to go through the pain of displaced hips, heartburn and nausea again.

Now, even with all the pain and fear, I want to have two more to complete our family... it makes no sense at all but I just need more...

I also love that your children remember your sweet Charlotte in their own special way. I want my daughter to always know she had a little brother and would love for her to send such beautiful prayers to him as your children do. Thank you for sharing.

Christy said...

I relate to so much of this post. I feel so much the same about my three kids and the want to be whole again but that no number of subsequent children will ever make that happen. I don't k now if I want another child or if I really just want Chase back. Our mealtime blessings are so similar, too. How you said that they are not obligated to love her...and you could not make them feel the way they do...is true testament to Charlotte's presence in your lives. She is loved, she knows it and so does your whole family.
Beautiful post, thanks for sharing.
xo

Christy said...

I relate to so much of this post. I feel so much the same about my three kids and the want to be whole again but that no number of subsequent children will ever make that happen. I don't k now if I want another child or if I really just want Chase back. Our mealtime blessings are so similar, too. How you said that they are not obligated to love her...and you could not make them feel the way they do...is true testament to Charlotte's presence in your lives. She is loved, she knows it and so does your whole family.
Beautiful post, thanks for sharing.
xo

Adelaide's Mom said...

Wow, your so amazing at expressing your heart. What an incredible family you all are. xo

kris said...

Oh, my dear Carol. I thought of you and of Charlotte this weekend--I was in that magical living room. I am sure that Charlotte chose Fiona especially for your family. She will be as real to Fiona as she is to Liam and Aoife. It is the great gift you and Greg give them.

Lara said...

There is something magical about three living children. I can so relate to the tidiness of two and the scheming and longing for the third. I am delighted to hear that Fiona is so healing for you to finally have your family of three living children. I have this nagging sense that I would feel more complete more settled-out of that spinning gerble wheel in my head if I too had a third living child. Now and perhaps forever I will have to live vicariously through you and smile to know three is a magic number for you. You have endured and you have 3 children to snuggle in your bed!!!!!!!!!!!! Hooray.