Love Simply, Just Because

When I was nine years old, I found my baby sister dead in her crib.  She lived for one month.

I had gone to check on her, as I often did when she slept.  I knew something was wrong right away.  She looked like, just a body.  Life had left her.  Or maybe she had left life.  I’m not sure.

I remember flinching at the coldness of her skin.  Her lips were blue.  When I turned her head towards me, it flopped to the side.  My stomach heaved.  I was surprised that when I called 911, the phone rang and I had to wait.  Somehow the idea that they weren’t immediately available to help me made me feel very alone and very scared.  I hung up.  Someone called back immediately.  There was some relief.  They were going to fix her.  Take the blue away.  They couldn’t, of course, or I would be telling a very different story today.

I can still feel the hard wood of the pews where I sat, and there was her impossibly tiny coffin, consumed by enormous sprays of cut flowers. My mother stood there.  I knew even from observing from my vantage point, she was stuck.  Unable to touch the coffin, but unable to leave, she just stood there.  The flowers seemed like servants, ready to follow my sister into death, bound by the shortening of their own lives.

I don’t know how long that moment lasted, but eventually someone came to sit beside me. I actually don’t remember who it was.  A woman.  She smelled like hotel mints, artificial and strange.

“Your mother is sad. I can’t imagine what it is like, never to see your child grow up. All that possibility, lost.”

She sighed, patted my hand and left me.

Possibility lost.

I wish I could go back in time and ask her what she meant.  Possibility… Did she mean potential?  Achievements that never came to be? Love, unfulfilled?  It seems so easy to think about the should-have-beens, rather than what simply was.  Indeed, that had been the major hurdle to clear once we thought LP had Down syndrome. It was hard to let go of the could-have-should-have-been ideas on what my child would be, no matter how flawed I knew those ideas were.

What simply was. What was, was that my sister lived a few weeks in this world. LP has an extra chromosome. It simply is.

I took the Taters to my sister’s grave last week.  I packed us lunch, and we headed out to make the long drive to the cemetery where my sister is buried.  Mouse had picked a bouquet from our garden and held it carefully the entire way, nestled in a small plastic cup with water.

As we drove into the tiny cemetery, I bit my lip in anticipation, waiting.

I didn’t cry.

The girls ran around in the open grass, LP played with my shirt and blew raspberries on my shoulder, the sun heated our bodies, and it seemed alright.  More than alright.

I see it a little better now.

There’s no linear path; no end game.  Every moment we live is a prism of possibility.  I grieve my sister’s death simply because her life was important.  Her birth was joyous simply because she existed.  There was no possibility lost.  She was all the possibility she should have been.

I’ve wondered before, why she died when she did.  And when we found out about LP’s Down syndrome, I wondered why.  Neither matters to me much now.  Morning glories open at daybreak and die in the heat of the sun.  Redwoods live for centuries.  They live out their possibilities in a fleeting moment or over lifetimes.  Each life, just a moment in the womb or for a hundred years, leaves seeds of possibility behind.  One of those seeds that my sister dropped bloomed in my heart that day, and I will try to remember every time I look at my children.  Love simply, without conjecture, explanation, or justification.

Love simply, just because.

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27 Comments on “Love Simply, Just Because”

  1. momshieb says:

    You are a truly gifted writer.
    Your children is as lucky to have you as we are to have your words.

  2. Liz Tree says:

    awesome… thank you!

  3. Down Wit Dat says:

    You may not have cried, but I did.
    Love to you and the taters. xox

  4. Marie Fox says:

    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing – and what a lovely photo of you all together at your sisters grave. Much love.

  5. Beautiful! So well put and a wonderful reminder.

  6. everythingforareason1 says:

    Beautifully said, and so very true. Thank you for the reminder.

  7. Diane says:

    So beautiful friend!

  8. Galit says:

    Oh my, that brought a tear to my eye! Life is lived forward, remembered backwards, but only truly exists right now. Thank you for the reminder!

  9. There is a lady where I work that writes quotes on a dry erase board board everyday. Today, the day I read this post, the quote is ….”Family faces are magic mirrors looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present, and future”-Gail Lumet Buckley. I though it quite fitting for this post.

  10. Thank you for writing so beautifully and honestly.

  11. Heather Bradley says:

    Beautiful!

  12. Lisa says:

    Heartbreaking and beautiful and so full of truth.

  13. Jenny says:

    I’m speechless. This was so incredibly beautiful.

  14. jisun says:

    Thank you, everyone, for such kind words.

  15. prayingformyrainbow says:

    Beautiful words. I lost my daughter to SIDS last year. I worry about how my then 4 year old will be able to cope with it, not just now, but in the future. It is wonderful that you bring your children to the grave to visit her. I hope my daughter will do the same so her sister will not be forgotten.

  16. Miriam says:

    I agree with the other commenters, very beautiful. And I totally agree with you. My life has not gone according to plan, nothing has been the way i thought it should be. But I am slowly learning to just be, to embrace what I have in the moment instead of imagining something different.

    • jisun says:

      Thank you. Yes, it really isn’t ever what any of us expects, is it? The older I get the more I’m starting to think that life is about letting go.

  17. Diane says:

    What a beautiful story. We can never find the answers in our hearts now, but it is important to remember that every life that comes into this world, no matter how long or short has a purpose. Being present to the moments, helps us not to miss the wonders we are given to enrich our life.
    LP will bring new wonders into your world. Open your heart and believe you have been given a special kind of journey My child died at the age of 5 months and I know that my life has been graced because of her brief presence.
    Diane

  18. That was beautiful. I also found my son in his crib. He was blue and cold and the COD was SIDS. I can relate to the idea of a lost possibility. I often find that I am grieving more for the things that didn’t get the chance to happen as I am the things that I actually miss.

  19. Sadie says:

    Just…wow. As a mother to two beautiful babies – one who died before birth nearly five years ago and whose presence I still feel every day, and one who is growing and thriving amd very much alive today, extra chromosome and all – I really appreciate how you interweave these threads into a common story. I will always believe that my experience of babyloss with my son gave me the perspective to take our daughter’s DS diagnosis as no big deal; since they won’t have a sibling connection of any other kind, it means a lot to me that they are connected in this way, and now your beautiful writing allows me to reflect on a whole new layer of connection, all about love. Thank you for sharing.


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