The mail arrives. With it, our first Christmas card of the year.
“Robyn, Mark and Extended Family;”
Ouch. Needless to say, after a quick scan for some mention of Owen, this card went directly into the recycling. It clearly wasn’t intended for our family. If it was, it would have included all of us. The kind gesture of sending the card was completely overshadowed by the failure to acknowledge our entire family. An exclusion that caused hurt, even if this was not the intention. The card was out of sight, but its omission not out of mind.
In steps Mama Bear. The protector. The inherent need to guard my young. Back up. Claws out. Combine this with the teacher in me, and you have a lethal combination. Thankfully, I write.
Our counsellor tells us that we need to let go of trying to educate those who do not understand. That I need to focus less of my energy on people who will not absorb it, but instead let it pass through. I struggle with this. I hear the meaning in people’s words and feel the need to defend. To clarify. I know it is sapping my energy but I cannot let it go. My little boy deserves to be acknowledged and honoured. I fail to understand why their needs should prevail over those of my son.
I have become hyper-vigilant about words and actions, both of my own and of those around me. Carefully listening, reading and watching for anything that may in some way fail to include our little boy, misrepresenting his importance and continued presence in our lives. I feel the need to assert his importance in all situations. Little reminders that he is with us. Subtly correcting tense. Aiming to impart some understanding, with the hope that next time, my heart might be spared. Words mean so much. Actions too. There is so much meaning embedded in what is left unsaid, but can still be heard. In what is left undone, but can still be seen. The heart is vulnerable. It can see and hear clearly. I know that I need to protect it.
I get it. Other people see the world through their own set of experiences. They just do not know. They do not mean to cause harm. They think they are saying the right things, using the right words – expressing tidbits of sentiment they have heard throughout their lives. They are piecing together words from what they know so far. They know from what they have experienced. They are trying. They are learning, too. I get it. I really do. But, they just do not understand. I want them to understand.
I want them to see how important Owen is to our family. I want them to know that he will always be present tense – that he will always be. I want them to acknowledge and see us as a family. I want them to look a photo of a physical two, and see all of us. I want them to know that we do everything for our family as any family would – that we still experience together. I want them to learn that it is ok to talk to us about our son, and to continue to do so. I want them to know that Owen does not make us sad. I want them to know that he matters, and will matter, to our family forever, not just in the few months surrounding his birth. I want them to know that there do not need to be solutions, that they do not need to ‘fix’ anything, that we are beautiful the way we are. I want them to know that we are not scary, that we are more than tragedy. I want them to know how remembering a birthday, or including Owen on a Christmas card matters. I do not want them to know how we feel, but I want them to know these things.
I just want them to know.