It's amazing how quickly time moves. A moment ago, we were watching Nicholas and Sophia on the ultrasound in Dr. Lee's office for the first time. But that was two and a half years ago... And, two years ago today, many of our family and friends said "hello" and "good-bye" to them, all at once.
Having their Memorial Mass six weeks after they were born and passed was such a blessing because it enabled our loved ones, separated by distance, an opportunity to make the service. At what could have been a crushingly lonely time, we were surrounded by the people who had made our lives what they are, who have always loved and supported us. I'll never forget the feeling I had of walking out of the church and seeing my grandmother, surrounded by my cousins and (great) Aunts, walking towards the entrance. I hadn't known they'd been able to make it. They'd driven from Nashville... To celebrate with us. To remember. To mourn.
I remember Terri, who didnt miss a beat when my email giving the details of the service was sent, responding immediately that she would be there. She, who had a child not yet a year old and another in pre-school.
Peter's uncle and godfather... Family and dear friends who drove all morning from Vermont. Family and friends from throughout New England and the Midatlantic regions...
We were surrounded by our church, local friends and coworkers- a family that had celebrated our long awaited pregnancy with us and were devastated alongside us. Godparents who read readings about life again instead of holding babies for their baptisms... Friends who gave prayers while steadying their shaking voices... A receiving line that lasted longer than the Mass because so many people came... People we hadnt seen in years, people we'd seen moments before...
Back at our house, women I've known for what has felt like my lifetime joined in aside new friends and kept everything running smoothly. Food trays were taken out and refreshed, drinks were topped off, everyone was made sure to have a plate. Photo albums were looked at... The line to see Nick and Sophie's book stretched beyond the one for lunch. People commented on him having Peter's nose or her having my smile. People saw them... Really saw them... And, what was more, they wanted to.
So often, I am saddened by hearing about the responses of their family and friends to the death of their child. The grief is expected to fade away, names are left unmentioned, children are forgotten by silence. While we have had moments where Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander have been left out, remembering their services, where so many came to remember them and to be a part of our lives with them and after them... Even now, when it is cold and I feel their absence so deeply, I am warmed by the memory of all who loved them so much.
There's one memory that still causes me to smile every time I remember. In the center isle of the church, there was a table that held their marble box and a picture of Nicholas and a picture of Sophia. As people walked up for Communion, the daughter of one of our friends reached out and stroked each picture while whispering to her mother, "Baby..." Her mom simply replied, kissing her head, "Yes, babies..." I still get choked up just thinking about it.