Quite often, my thoughts stray to how other people think about our family. If we have become defined by tragedy. If we are more than the latest gossip and shared pity over a cup of tea. If we are more than those people whose son died. If Owen is more than that to them. He deserves to be more than that. He is more than that. So much more.
I wonder if they can truly see the beauty of our little family rather than the tragedy that has befallen us. I wonder if they can see the love. If they can really see our family, and not feel sorry for us. If they see us as three, instead of two. I wonder if they understand that we carry happiness and pride in addition to the sadness. If they see our pain, but know it stems from love. I wonder if they see our little boy and their hearts fill with love before their eyes fill with tears. I wonder if they will forget and move on. I wonder.
I wonder what they think when they see the beautiful little boy that we adore. If they can see his puckered lips and raised eyebrows and feel their heartstrings pulled as we do. If they can see that he got his chin from his daddy and his eyes from his mummy. If they can see his sensitive, gentle character through the photographs. If they realize that he is so much more than his photographs and his birth story. If they understand that he continues to enrich our lives and bring joy to our family. I wonder if they see. I wonder if they know.
Some people do not leave me wondering. They may not understand, but they try. They exude empathy, not sympathy. Their love for Owen shines through their words of love. There are tears, filled with love and longing to learn more about Owen. Gestures of kindness. A note, a photo, a story, a way to tell us they have been thinking about our son. That he is alive with them. These people bring smiles to our hearts. These people love Owen. They love him.
As parents, we do not want our child’s life to be defined by tragedy. He is a very special little boy who deserves to be celebrated. His death has not changed that. Misfortune took our son’s physical life far too soon. It has changed the way our family looks, but not the way our family feels. We want to see our son continue to flourish and grow in the hearts of those around him. We want his life to continue to have meaning. He deserves this. Owen is more than his death. He is so much more.
Our family is more because of our little Owen Benjamin. So much more.
Today you are 11 months old, baby boy. We celebrate you every day, but today we will do something extra special. This past month has been an exciting one for our little big boy. We went back to school. We saw many floatplanes (including some of the last ones of the season at home) and a train without a caboose. We watched the salmon heading upstream to spawn. We went up and down hills on a cable car in San Francisco, we fed some ducks, played pinball, watched the goldfish theatre, and looked for treasure. We went on two wheels through some sand dunes (where daddy was frightened by three snakes), saw a seaplane in Seattle, and met a grubby on Owen Beach. We read a lot of good stories where we learned about two special bears, met plenty of silly animals (who can count to twenty), journeyed from Seattle to Alaska with Arrow, solved mysteries with Owl and Octopus and so many more (including a few readings of ‘Dogs’, a family favourite). We adventured, and settled new territory together as a family. Always together. Mummy and daddy love you Owen. Now, let’s go on a birthday adventure.