It was the end of July, 2016. We had just finished our 28 day stay in the hospital and we were so happy to be home. On a whim, we had decided to take all 6 of our kids up the canyon on a hike….some would most likely call “Silver Lake” an easy mountain walk, but when you are carrying 3 babies, anything is considered a hike! We had all the backpacks and baby wearing gear, along with a freshly filled load of milk for Hayes’ tube. Nothing was getting in the way. We had day dreamed of days like this while being trapped within the 4 gray walls of the hospital.
I think about this day often. We were so happy. Genuinely filled with happiness to have all 6 of our kids together with us again. I wrote in my journal that day, “While Hayes was in the hospital it hit me how much I have always let fear of little things hold my family back from making memories! Fear of messing up napping schedules, fear of babies crying, fear of it just being too hard! I promised myself that I would never let those fears get in the way again! Naps can wait, babies can cry but memories won’t wait! So grateful for this life Steve and I have created! It isn’t perfect, but it is happy! Love my happy! #tatepartyof8”
I hadn’t realized at the time, just how significant those words were. The memories we made are my everything now. The fuel that keeps my broken heart pumping.
But, there is one moment that stands out more than anything else from that day. We hadn’t done “normal” in so long. We had craved the “mundane” of a family hike so we knew we needed to document it with a picture. So with the beautiful green mountain and silver lake as the backdrop I stopped a couple that was walking by and asked if she could take a picture of this monumental occasion. We formed ourselves into a crooked line and she immediately smiled and said, “Of course”.
I noticed her eyes looking curiously at Hayes. With his NG tube coming out of his nose it was hard to miss that Hayes was medically special and with love in her eyes she asked if he had cancer.
We replied with a nod and her and her husband began retelling the story of their own 8 month old warrior. She had passed away 13 years prior, but was now their forever 8 month old. She told us her babies story with tears in her eyes and immediately I felt that connection. The dreaded but also so beautiful and real cancer parent connection. It hit me significantly that even after 13 years, she still talked about her girl with longing and pain. Now I know that pain.
When Hayes passed away, I remember mourning the loss of the future I had envisioned for him. I had imagined years of team soccer games with Heath and Reese, going on his first date, marriage and even the simple things like pasta noodle necklaces and hand stamps on construction paper for Mother’s Day. I mourned the loss of what being his mother had been and what I had hoped would be as the years shifted forward.
Now I look back on that conversation with that mom up at Silver Lake and realize the significance. It was a huge reminder that once you are a mother, you never stop being your children’s mother. And with another Mother’s Day on the very near horizon, this thought has given me so much comfort.
Hayes won’t be giving me homemade fruit loop yarn bracelets or potted plants, and I do hate that. But then I also realize that Hayes’ gifts to me are just harder to see. He gifts me with #HayesHints and random memories that pop into my head that I thought I had forgotten. I am still this sweet boys mom.
To all you moms mourning the life with your child you had hoped for but it was cruelly stolen from you, I see you. Whether you lost a child in miscarriage, from illness, stillborn or even infertility, I see you. I see your pain. You deserve to be recognized on this Mother’s Day. Sending you all the love I can muster! You aren’t alone in this great big world!