Saturday, October 15, 2011

Five Years and a Week Later

From Saturday to Saturday, what a week it has been...

Last Saturday, the 8th, was our angel's birthday. He would have been five years old. It's hard to wrap my brain around that. Has it really been five years? What would he be like? How different would our lives be?

Quite honestly, I can't imagine a life without Nick. I think we are very blessed and that all the pain of five years ago paved the way to all the happiness that we now have.

Still, my heart continues to ache. There's a void that even time cannot heal. I don't know that everyone understands that, and truly, unless you've lost a child, I don't know that you can fully understand it. I mean, I have a child now, so I should just move on, right?


I very quickly removed a couple people from  my life five years ago. The friend who said that my husband and I would "be parents someday," who failed to acknowledge that though our baby was born with an angel's wings, we were still parents. The family member who said that our grief was hurting her feelings and it was time to just get over it.

Yeah. Good-bye.

But then there have been moments of grace and beauty. The one family member who wished me a "Happy Mother's Day" that first May after we lost Gregory. The kind words spoken to me by a colleague who isn't generally known for his gentle heart. The surprising compassion of my former boss when I suffered a miscarriage just months later.

The single monarch butterfly flying overhead in a clear blue sky on October 8th of this year. I associate butterflies with Gregory, and I know it was his way of letting me know that he is okay and that he is watching over us.

Every year, around his birthday, we make it a point to visit the Rose Garden where he was laid to rest. I couldn't bear the thoughts of a sterile and dismal cemetery for him, so when this option was presented, I suppose I sort of bullied my husband into agreeing. I wanted him to have sunshine and butterflies and flowers...and the companionship of the other angels who would be laid to rest with him.

It is such a peaceful place for me. Somewhat sad, sure. But it is so healing to be there. To feel beauty and light and love surrounding me. I know that I couldn't have the feeling elsewhere.

Each year, I take pictures when we make our visit, and I always make an image just for Gregory. This year's image might be my favorite. I love how it turned out and I love the little angel that I snuck in. I placed the same angel in last year's image, and I think I may make it a part of all future images, too...

This past week has been full of what will become other sad remembrances, as well. One of our former students--the son of a former colleague--was killed in a car accident. Such a sad loss, and though I understand the loss of a child, I can't imagine the level of her pain. Two of my friends lost their mother-in-laws, and knowing the closeness of the relationship I have with my own, my heart aches for them and for their spouses.

In honor of these losses, I felt compelled to create an image for them last night:


When I was through processing this, I loved the glow coming from the center of the flower, like a votive candle was illuminating it from within. Well, that reminded me that today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. The October 15th website recognizes today with a Wave of Light. Everyone is asked to light a candle from 7-8pm tonight so that a wave of light will cross the globe in remembrance. I have a special candle that I light each year, and I'll be lighting it tonight.

I also processed another image last night, a reminder to myself that there are stages to life. And that these stages create a cycle of renewal, a cycle that means that--in some ways--everything that matters will go on even after we our gone...


Hmmm...what an introspective week for me. So many thoughts and memories, yearnings and sorrows mixed with joys and laughter.

I suppose that's a definition of life, huh? That balance between two ends of an emotional spectrum? The sadness paving a way for us to appreciate the wonderful blessings that we are given each day...


  1. Such a loss, such a sorrow I cannot imagine. I can only guess. My story is different. I did not loose my child. She has severe challenges. Doctors said she would never walk or talk, but we decided to prove them all wrong. She does walk now, not as smoothly as you or I. She does have some words, but mostly I have supplied pictures for her to point to for communication. She now has an iPad with a speech aid communication device - photos that have a voice, that talk for her. But what good are all these photos when she is loosing her vision? She is already blind in one eye and limited vision in the other. I often wonder what our lives would be like if she were like her sister or brother. What our family life could have been. Then I wonder how our lives would be without her and I cry. Because I could not bear to be without her. She is 25 years old now. 25 years of wondering, caring for her, loving her. Our lives changed in an instant when she was born but we would not have it any other way.

    I don't suppose any of this is any comfort to you. I just want you to know that I appreciate your story, your life, your words as you go through life with the pain of loss.

    I, too, have people who no longer matter to me because of unkind words spoken about Claire.

    When life throws you such hardships, it truly does make you appreciate the good things all the more.

    I've been thinking of you.


  2. Hi Nichole,
    This is my first visit to your blog which I linked to from Flickr. You express your thoughts beautifully with your images. I think you are right that the sadness helps to appreciate the good things that come along. I never understand the insensitivity of people who think you should just "move on" and forget. I like your little angel in the image and it is a wonderful way for you to remember your baby. Your post struck me also because my niece is expecting a baby boy in a few weeks and has named him Gregory; and today is my birthday lol! My other niece has three young children and is battling cancer right now. We are hoping for the best but my sister can't bear to think of the worst. Wishing you the best; enjoy your weekend! Aggie
    PS: I will be a "grandma" again in a few weeks too...

  3. I am so sorry for the loss of Gregory. Even sorrier that ignorance brought out the worst in some of the people in your life. Good idea letting them go. There is enough struggle, and sorrow around us we do not need it put upon us by people that do not "get it." All we can do is plan the joy, make the joy, appreciate the joy and hope it carries us through the darkest hours. Thinking of you my Friend.

  4. Hi Nichole,
    Thank you so much for that beautiful image in honor of my mother-in-law. It brought tears to both my husband and my eyes. I know your loss...I think about my own two years ago. And, I like to think that I also am still a parent. I love all your images. They are beautiful and full of love and hope. I think it's wonderful you create an image for your angel each year and your chosen place for him was a wonderful idea. Love you and thanks so much for your support during this emotional time!