Monday, May 15, 2006

Badge of Honor?

So, like it or not, I've been labeled, via the loss of another child. After Alexis, I refused the "Angel Baby" addendum in my signatures. Now it's been pluralized, and regardless of my refusal to join the ranks of the "Mommy of Angel Babies" club, it's still how people think of me, how they refer to me in emails sometimes. Like it's a compliment. Well, here's how I see it.

I've spent 5 years, since my daughter's death, being told that I am not to blame. But you see, that's a double edged sword. Blame and credit are synonymous, the only difference being in connotation.

I cannot deny culpability, and take credit. To do so would make me a hypocrite.

So if I say that, for the most part at least, I have accepted that their heart defects, and their resulting deaths, are not my fault - I must also say that there's nothing for which I should take credit.

For that reason, I still refrain from being the proud bearer of the "Mother of an Angel Baby" badge in my signature.

Aside from that - I have to admit that, as comforting as it may be to some, I do not believe that my children are angels (and again, even if they are, it was not my doing...)

I'd like to be able to find some sort of solace in the image of my children playing together, keeping one another company, greeting other family members at the gates when they pass away or being cared for by family members who died in the past... But I can't. Only in my poetry do they do those things.

I am not a very religious person anyway, but that isn't how my beliefs on death or religion work. My background in religion (2 parents that were preachers) states that there were a set number of angels created, and that number never changes. I (as well as all of you I assume) was taught that in Heaven (assuming it actually exists) there is no pain or sadness.

To remember us, those who haven't died - to watch us go through the pain of grief, the difficulties of life, to witness us making poor choices and causing ourselves, and each other, pain... Those things would cause our loved ones pain and sadness wouldn't they? So, no, I don't believe that they're watching over me, guarding or protecting me.

And I sincerely hope that I'm right, because I cannot fathom making my children watch me go through this, knowing it is their deaths that cause me this pain.

I am not the mother of two angel babies.

I am a mother who, twice, has watched her child die, who has had the magic of life ripped from my arms again, who has watched two tiny entombed bodies being lowered into the ground. I am a mother who has had to learn and relearn the devastating permanency of death. So there will never be one of those counters beneath my name that proclaims my status as mother of two children who have died. I can't find anything joyful enough or boast-worthy enough in those experiences to merit a badge of honor.


  1. Erin, I simply see you as "Mother of Seven." Why should we have to make that separation. Alexis and Nova may be gone from us, but they are still your children, and always will be. So forget the Angel Baby bunk and simply state what you are.

    I think a lot of people need that Angel image in order to make the healing easier on themselves. For others, well, they're just too much realists to buy into any comforting sort of false imagery.

  2. Anonymous9:10 AM

    Well said. The last paragraph touched me most of all.

    Grief, mourning, is for the living.