(We went to a Christmas party, just days after we shared Rowan’s life through beautiful pictures and acts of kindness spread as far as we could reach. Just days after we mustered up the courage to announce defeat to everyone we know, that the killing of our son has been declared within policy, because he was wrongly labeled as being an uncooperative child…)

Dear Rowan,

We went to a Christmas party, with tears just under the surface. Because your sister is five, and she needs Christmas. Because you were two, and you believed in Christmas miracles, and if we turn away from Christmas, then we turn further away from you.

At the Christmas party, I ran into a long-time friend. I haven’t heard from him much this year. He met you at a party once, does he remember you? He’s about to have a baby, and we chat about the news. I mention your name, he moves awkwardly, and soon the conversation fades. Too long a friend to walk away, we stand in silence next to each other. Five minutes? More? I reach inside my pocket and hold the little broken heart that sits inside as we silently stare at you.

I ran into an acquaintance, who I have known for years. She knows you, and loved to play with you, and said beautiful things about you when you died. She smiles and says “How are you?” and tries for small talk, searching for any conversation outside of you. I try to search for the memories of her smile when she used to speak of you, so different than the one she wears as she speaks tonight.

I bumped into a stranger, just as tears were welling up in my eyes. He stops to talk, pretending he doesn’t seem them. We talk for a few minutes about airplanes, and then he moves on. As he walks away, I wonder: does he think about my tears for you?

I talked to the friend who knows grief, and graciously invited us to be the grey cloud at her merry party. The friend who is helping keep Christmas merry for our daughter, and who I am forever grateful to for standing comfortably next to us. I quietly hope that she, too, sees you in this night.

Because you were at the party. In the little race cars that were given out to the children. In the basketball hoop, as I watched the children put their heads inside the net and giggle. In the Christmas songs around the campfire. In our hearts.

But nobody said your name. Nobody spoke of your death, and nobody spoke of your life. Nobody spoke of you.

I hope that in their silence they remember you, my elephant in the room.

Love, Mom

 

My thanks to Alan Pederson, for his song “Elephant in the room” in memory of his daughter, Ashley).. an inspiration for this post

 

 

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