I always put it in the same place. I KNOW that's where I put it last! What could have happened to it?!
As it turned out, someone who shall remain nameless but recently had a birthday and will be graduating soon, decided keeping this item in his top dresser drawer was a good plan. He was swiftly informed that was not a good plan. In fact, that is no longer the plan.
Anywhooo...In his defense, perhaps this was all meant to be because in my search I stumbled across something I wasn't expecting.
You see, I'm not really one to hang onto every birthday/anniversary/special occasion card. I appreciate every card I have ever received and the time someone took to send it to me (especially since I am woefully card-challenged for the most part). But after enjoying the card and allowing it to spend a respectable amount of time in my designated "card basket" most cards usually find their way to the recycling bin.
(Please don't stop sending me cards, friends. I truly love and appreciate them! I am just not willing to drown in them!)
Like every good rule there is always an exception though and the exception to this card rule are the cards we received following the loss of our twins and the loss of my father. I saved every single one.
My sister gave me a beautiful basket after our babies died with a plaque on the top that reads, "Our Forever Babies" with their names and date of their birth. In it holds every card we received following their birth and death, and every card I received in the years after.
Sidenote: If you are ever on the fence as to whether to send a sympathy card because you aren't sure whether it will be appropriate/welcome/needed/helpful? Send the card.
We received many, many cards in the month after our babies were born. Fewer after that month passed. And, of course, as is expected, even fewer on that date in the years that followed. This is not to make anyone feel guilty or shamed. I would have been the same way if the roles were reversed. Life goes on and those outside the immediate circle of loss shouldn't be expected to remember dates forever.
After the first couple of years, it was mostly just our family and closest friends who remembered.
And, of course, ever the Queen of Cards and Remembering and Marking Special Days and Moments, Tracy was one who never forgot.
Every year without fail, I would receive a note from her on their day, and often more than that. We refer to our babies as our "Twin Stars" so she would send me little star ornaments she found, or candles with a star on them, or any little thing she had stumbled across that brought them to mind. Of course all of those notes and cards went straight into the basket to be treasured always.
Except this one...somehow this one never made its way there. Somehow this one was in a spot it shouldn't have been, just waiting for me to find it when I needed....something.
It took me back to a moment I've never forgotten but hadn't revisited in my mind in a long time.
For several years, Tracy and I were part of a mom's group connected to the Catholic school our children attended. Actually, as with so many things, Tracy was the reason I became a part of the group. It was a lovely group of women and something we both enjoyed for many years.
Each year, we would go on an overnight retreat to Sleeping Lady in Leavenworth, WA. It was an amazing setting and it was always a time mixed with both deep conversations and uncontrollable laughter-my favorite combination.
During a time when we were talking more deeply and personally, the subject of our twins came up. By this point, I spoke of them easily and was happy to share about our experience both during and after our loss.
But then someone asked a question I wasn't prepared for. It was asked gently and innocently, not at all intended to cause harm. But it was the question that always caught me off guard.
How long did they live?
I'm sure I hesitated. I probably started to stammer something about how I didn't really know, and it was hard to say, and they were so still and quiet because they were so tiny... And I can't even really explain why that question made me feel so uncomfortable. Perhaps because my own fear was that somehow the length of their lives was tied to the depth of their worth?
I think at some point my voice trailed off.
And then Tracy stepped in to rescue me, offering the words that I couldn't.
Her eyes were misty but she didn't cry, which for those of you who knew her you know she must have been digging deep.
Her voice was tender but strong.
We held them so close. We held them right up to our chests and so...as we held them, it was like our heartbeats were their heartbeats. I don't know how long they were physically with us, but as we all took turns holding them, it sure felt like they were with us that whole day.
I can't remember if I ever told her how grateful I was for that.
I hope she knew.
I think she knew.
And now I carry this image of her holding those babies, and I like to think that is somehow a part of all the joy she is experiencing now. Oh, how she loved babies.
Tracy was a lot of things. She could be big, and loud, and funny, and the center of attention. But she could also be soft, and quiet, and incredibly generous with her heart.
I'm just trying to make sure I remember it all and this memory felt like it needed to be written down.
Tracy, consider this my thank you card. I know how you love a good thank you card.
|Promise you won't forget me, ever.|
Not even when I'm a hundred.
~A. A. Milne