Owen and Ellie

This morning I went to a funeral for my friend’s twin babies.  It was a closed casket during the visitation and funeral, but afterwards we were peeking in the room again, looking for part of our carpool, and Dana and Greg invited us to come and see them.  On the ride out there, someone mentioned that they had been to a baby’s funeral before, and it was an image they could never get out of their mind.  Well, seeing Ellie and Owen was an image I never want to get out of my mind.  Two little people that are so precious to my dear friend, and I’ll never get to see them living, so I’m so glad to have seen them today.  Ellie had her hand in Owen’s arm, like the chilvalrous little boy I’m sure he is.  🙂  They had a rosary from their grandma held in both their hands.  They each had a teddy bear and a Hawkeye pacifier, and there was a picture of Dana and Greg and letters from each of them for the babies.  They both had their eyes shut, of course, and Owen had his little baby mouth open just a little.  They both had on white hats, and Ellie had a white and pink outfit, Owen’s was white and blue.  Dana was telling us all this stuff about them, how Ellie had hair, which one had her feet and which one had Greg’s feet, forhead, nose, etc.  They were so tiny and peaceful and perfect.

Of course, tears are streaming down my face as I type this!

Isn’t it funny how we take on each other’s pain as our own?  Nothing happened to me, and yet I am sad.  I am sad for my friend’s suffering.  I’m sad because she’s feeling a pain that is so many times greater, and there is nothing anyone can do to take that away for her. 

I suppose you could think about it as a caring sort of sadness.  If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t be sad.  If I heard of something like this happening to someone I didn’t really know, it would tug at my heart, and I would feel sympathy for what that person was going through.  But I wouldn’t feel sadness of my own.  I wouldn’t be crying as I wrote about it.  I wouldn’t have lost it at work the other day when I got yelled at for not checking to make sure the right paperwork was done for a new student, and later, been run over by a tricycle.  (Seriously.  Those things are dangerous!) 

Someone else at work made the good point that I can’t understand because I haven’t carried a baby.  They’re right, of course.  But for some reason, I have sadness anyway.  Mine will pass easily, soon I will be left with sympathy for Dana and the desire to be there for her.  Dana’s will take a lot of time and hard days to work through, and probably come back every now and then for the rest of her life.

All I know is, we need each other in this world!  We can’t leave each other alone to deal with things ourselves, as much as our culture tells us that’s the strong way to be.  Dana and Greg need each other right now, and they need their friends and families.  I needed my friends this morning, and they needed me.  After saying our hellos and condolences, we sat down, and I ended up in a pew by myself.  Not a big deal at all, of course, you sit where there’s room for your bottom, and it just turned out we had exactly one more person than there was room for in the other two pews.  But the girls who were sitting on the other side of this kleenex shelf thing scooted together and asked me to come sit with them, and it was nice not to be sitting alone.  Then later when we were coming in to see the babies, I was right up by them, and one of the girls who is old enough to be my mother came beside me and grabbed my hand as she first saw Ellie and Owen.  We all just needed each other today, even though the emotions that we are working through are nothing compared to Dana’s and Greg’s. 

I can think of so many times when I needed support from someone, and I hesitated to ask for it because it seems like the strong, capable thing to do, to figure things out on your own.  Just a little more than a month ago, I just didn’t want to go back to work.  I let it stew and stew for days, until I was so emotional that I would have rather done anything besides be a teacher!  I called Tara, and she and Chad let me come sit in their living room with them for awhile and just cry and complain about it.  They knew it was stupid, I knew it was stupid, but they were there for me anyway. 

On Wednesday when I was trying to figure out what to do about this new student situation, I had been yelled at, I was mad at a couple of my students, I had been run over by a tricycle.  Any one of those things would not have fazed me.  All of them together wouldn’t have fazed me if I wasn’t sad for my friend.  Anyway, I had my fifteen minutes during recess, and I had to figure out what to do about this new student situation, and my foot that got run over is hurting.  (Did I mention it was a two-kid tricycle?)  And I’m crying and I can’t stop, and I’m just confused as heck because I do not cry at work.  Whatever happens to me at work, it is not personal, I deal with it and move on.  So my plan is to stop crying, get ahold of myself, and go ask the principal what I should do about this paperwork.  When I accept that it’s just not going to happen, I went to the teacher next door, who is my go-to teacher about anything else preschool related, and asked her what I should do.  She sends me straight to the bathroom, takes care of the situation, and then joins me in the bathroom to tell me how it worked out and what I need to do next.  Five minutes later the woman who yelled at me is in my classroom, apologizing and hugging and comiserating about Dana with me.  Which made me cry even more of course, and I didn’t want anyone to know that I had lost it.  🙂  The point is, at that moment I needed to cry about Dana, and only if everything in my day had gone perfectly would I have been able to hold on.  I was fortunate to be in a place where other people knew Dana, too, and where there were people who would give me a safe space to do that.  It was just too bad that I let it go to the point that I was crying in reaction to something that was not personal but work-related, and didn’t truly affect me.

Owen and Ellie have blessed me with a reminder that we need each other.  They have motivated me to think about what I can do to stay connected with my friends, including their mom.  I need a lot of reminders like that, because I definitely tend to believe that people expect me to be strong and independent, even though I know I really need other people.  Sometimes I’m afraid of being a bother to someone, even though I know if they called me it would be a joy.  I just have to stand up for what I need, and trust that other people will do that for themselves, also.

I pray that Dana and Greg experience some comfort as they grieve.  I pray that they discover the ways that Owen and Ellie have blessed them.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Doris
    Sep 24, 2007 @ 13:44:37

    No life is ever created without God and no life is created without a purpose. Sometimes the pain is so great it takes a long time to feel the love from God getting us through things like this. This loss is felt most acutely by the people closest to Ellie and Owen. But it is felt throughout creation as if it starts a ripple in a pond. You find yourself closer to the point of impact and the giant waves knock you off your feet. Dana and Greg are in the Tsunami being tossed about like something no one else can imagine. The after shocks of such a loss continue for a very long time. I pray that they find a way to cling together and let each other grieve the way they each need to. There are times that I think about the 2 babies that we lost at 10 to 12 weeks. I am absolutely sure the longer you have to attach to a baby the harder it is to say good-bye. There will things that will stir up the memory and the loss of the chance to raise these babies at unexpected milestones the rest of their lives. That is not always bad. Sometimes it is good to think that they made such an impact on the world in such a short time.

    Your emotions are real and valid. You have experienced a loss that no one else can understand because it is from your perspective. You may even think you have no way to help Dana and Greg but you are helping just by feeling and sharing the grief. Your co-teachers are helping you by just being there and giving you the extra room to cry when you need to.
    I love you and pray that Dana and Greg find the sunshine.


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