I’m sorry I haven’t updated the blog in a while. Paisley keeps me pretty busy, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My next round of classes starts up tomorrow after about two months off, so things won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
I do want to talk a little bit about unexpected miracles. When Dr. Khalek gave me Elizabeth McCracken’s book A Perfect Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, the ending puzzled me. She finished the book with the birth of her second child after losing her first to stillbirth, and she found peace in recognizing the miracle that wouldn’t have existed if her first hadn’t passed away. I couldn’t imagine ever finding peace in that. At first, it seemed like she was saying that the second baby replaced the first in a way; however, now I know what she meant.
First, let me be clear: Paisley has an identity of her own. She has made her own way into every single facet of our lives. Still, it’s impossible to deny that she would not be who she is–exactly as she is–if things hadn’t gone precisely the way they had.
Thoughts of “If Benjamin had lived…” used to keep me up at night in a way that was destructive to my mental health. I would create a world in which he lived, wondering where we’d be, what he’d look like, what he’d be doing, and so on. If we still had the luxury of blissful ignorance to congenital diaphragmatic hernias, balanced translocations, etc. It felt good to escape into the life that almost was, but the repeated process of returning to what was did not help. Yes, I was pregnant with Paisley, but I wasn’t fully convinced all would go well until she was out and healthy. And so, I focused on Benjamin and on all of the things that could have and should have gone differently.
These days, I know that if things had gone differently–even in the slightest, most insignificant ways, Paisley would not be here. Not as she is. Benjamin cannot exist in Paisley’s world, and she would never have existed in his. She was an unexpected miracle, one we couldn’t see coming from the room where Benjamin was born, lived, and died. Even if we could have seen her coming, even if someone said to us that this gorgeous, spunky little girl would come into our lives and make moving on worthwhile, it wouldn’t have mattered then. But wow–it does now.
I have to be very careful about how I say all of this, because just as I didn’t understand it while reading McCracken’s book, many who haven’t been where we are right now will not understand. In no way does it make everything better. There are still nights when I can feel my blood pumping with grief so hard that it tickles the tips of my fingers. There are still nights when Eddie and I are talking before going to sleep and I just exhale, “I miss him.” A few weeks ago I was walking from one room to another, not doing or thinking anything in particular, and I was enveloped in grief so strong I had to sit down exactly where I was standing, just to have something to hold onto. So, no, the second child does not replace the first. I wish with all my heart that both were here. But it’s not that way, and it never will be.
My point in this mess of a post is that Paisley’s existence has made it so I can’t trap myself in the world of If Only. If Only Benjamin had lived. Paisley, without fail, brings me back to this world, this wonderful life, this family that recognizes how temporary life can be. How lucky we are to have been made in such a way that we can do something as simple as breathe. How lucky we are to have a front row seat to witness the only the beginning of Paisley’s life–not the end.
I have two children: one is an angel, the other is a miracle. How lucky am I?
As some of you know, my religious stance has gone through some pretty big changes. I’m still coming to terms with a lot of it, but I cannot deny the beauty of this photo many, many friends have shared with me. (I also want to mention how grateful I am when friends and strangers send me photos of dandelion puffs–it is so uplifting to know that Benjamin has not been forgotten.)
And now, a few Paisley pictures. She is nearly 7 months old!