*Article appeared in our 3rd Quarter 2011 Newsletter.
Kristy P. Kulski-Ingram
People tend not to know what to say when they find out about Elijah – and I understand, I would feel the same way, afraid of saying the wrong thing. Sometimes I am met with awkward silence, other times it is simple confusion and then the dumbfounded direct response, “What happened?!” Because for many people, losing a child is an experience so rare that it is unthinkable that for many it’s simply incomprehensible.
I held Elijah in my arms for a short 7 ½ weeks. For all the brief time, his life and person were and continue to be immense to behold. It took having him for me to understand that Wolf-Hirschhorn, and other syndromes like it, were not personality traits, that knowing Elijah was like knowing sunshine. In a way diverging from his life, his death has held a deep and abiding impact on my very soul. For anyone who may read this after their own loss, my heart sincerely aches for you. I know there have been losses in the support group recently and I wish so dearly that no parent has this experience. While I think every parent fears it, those of you who have nurtured your children through the medical scares of 4p- each day have a special relationship with that fear. I will tell you honestly that I have no tales of saving inspiration. But I know that I only learned that each morning I had to get up, and that I needed a reason. My reason sometimes was my husband. But many mornings it was because I made a promise to Elijah, as I held him quietly knowing my moments with him were rushing away. I promised my son that I would be better because of him. So through him, I was able to find the strength to get up. Don’t ask too much of yourself, just ask that you take the next step. One foot in front of the other.
When people find out about Elijah, what I really want them to say is “Tell me about your son.” Because I still beam when I think about him, I could spend so much time talking about who Elijah was – his sweetest quiet smiles, his wise old eyes. And who his was to me – Elijah was my druid boy, he seemed to understand everything around him and take it all in with an otherworldly calm. Even now, over two years after losing him, I am still the proud gleaming first -time mother I was the moment he popped into the world, even if I cannot hold him with these arms. My son lit up a room; I have never seen anyone draw a crowd like him. His inner calm seemed almost transcendent of the world around us. Elijah gave me so much during his stay, he did things I was told would not be possible – the first of which was to be born. How such a young infant could cast such an aura of wisdom and serenity simply amazes me; and that is what Elijah did, was amaze me every day.
Once you have seen the sun, only another star can ever touch the darkness the same way again. Today I have Elijah’s 8 month old little brother Marcus. It is because of Elijah’s life, because of losing him, I am a better mother, and I am a better human being. And my little Marcus gets double love. It has taken some time to understand exactly what I was promising Elijah that day and I think that it will be a life-long endeavor of discovery. But in this, when I take Marcus into my arms, I know that I am keeping my promise, that Elijah is right there in all the love that I pour.
Remember when I held you aloft in my arms?
And there I kissed your neck and cheeks
And laughed my joy upon the air around us
Then held you high so you knew how to fly
And fly you did, right through my heart and taught me how to live
I can hear the words your eyes speak
And still giggle at your kicking feet
Your tiny hands over my fingers
I can hear the wisdom your heart speaks
Ah, how I love you my little one.
How beautiful those days in the sun.