Sunday, January 22, 2012

My Sister's Necklace

When I was three years old, my mother gave birth to a little girl.  She left this earth on the very same day she entered it.  I was too young then to remember it, but I’m sure that I was old enough at the time to acknowledge that something had happened.  My mother was always open in talking about the baby girl she lost and I don’t remember any specific time when my mom first told me about her.  Yet when someone asked how many siblings I had, I’d always say my one brother; it’s not unusual to only include living siblings when talking with strangers, but it was never intentional, I never thought to include the child my parents lost in infancy.

About a month before my wedding, my mother handed me an envelope.  In it was a hundred dollar bill that she had tucked inside that envelope twenty years ago.  And she told me it was from my sister.  My mother put that money away for me after my sister passed away, because she was sorry that I wouldn’t be able to have her at my wedding as my maid of honor.  That’s when it hit me, I did have a sister.  And for the first time in my life, I thought about all the moments I didn’t have with her.  I was never able to help my mommy change her diapers.  I didn’t get to be her big sister and protector in school.  There were no late nights up discussing boys.  And she couldn’t be the maid of honor at my wedding.

Then I realized that while I never thought of the missed moments, my parents had, everyday of their lives.  Now that I’m a mother, I have a greater understanding of how difficult it must be to lose a child, of how the loss must continue to haunt them.  Every Christmas, every happy family occasion, every family picture, thinking of the child missing.  And every year her birthday would come around.  Her day of birth, the day of her death, the only time they were able to hold their baby girl. 

I took the hundred dollar bill to a jewelry store and bought a beautiful necklace.  Then I went to my parents’ house to show my mother, who handled it with tears in her eyes.  And when I put it around my neck on my wedding day, for the first time in my life, I felt the presence of my sister.  She wasn’t my maid of honor, but she was there with me on my wedding day. 

Now when people ask how many siblings I have, I still say one little brother, but I think of my little sister too. 

13 comments:

  1. This is one of the nicest blog posts I have ever read, tears are brimming my eyes writing this. What a beautiful thing for your mother to do even in her own sorrow, and it's a beautiful necklace.

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    1. Thank you, Jennifer. Yes, the older I get and the more I learn about the hardships my mom encountered, the more I realize what an amazing and strong woman she is!

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  2. This was gorgeous, tears streaming down my face.

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    1. Thank you Deirdre. I've been wanting to write about this for so long but was worried I wouldn't be able to find the right words to express it.

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  3. My husband and I have a 21-month-old son, and lost our second baby at 8 weeks' gestation. One of the hardest things for me to come to terms with was the loss of all the potential that one little child brings into the world from the very moment of conception - his or her potential in their own life, of course, but also the millions of tiny ways that he or she would have touched and blessed us, as parents, as a sibling, as extended family and friends, as strangers. Like your mamma, we're trying to be open with our little boy about his brother/sister in heaven (we named the baby Carroll Maria, in honour of Pope St John Paul II), and hope that one day he - and any other living babies we have - will come to recognise the reality of his little sibling as you did.

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    1. Holly, I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. My mother also had a miscarriage before I was born and I wonder what it would have been like to have an older brother or sister (although I would not have been born if that baby had survived - I was conceived about the time he/she would have been born). My mother is such a strong woman to have had 4 pregnancies and only two surviving children. I am so glad you are open with your son about his sibling.

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  4. This is so beautiful. What a joy it will be when you are able to know her in Heaven.

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  5. What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing this with us. I'm sure it will be a delightful reunion when you get to meet her for the first time face to face in heaven!

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  6. Mandi that is an incredibly beautiful idea, both your mother's to have put away the money and your idea to purchase the necklace! Just a perfectly beautiful idea! :) 

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  7. Kimberly GallionMay 20, 2012 at 10:01 PM

    Oh you just made me cry!  That is so sweet!

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  8. What a beautiful post. And what a lovely way to remember your baby sister.

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  9. What a beautiful post. And what a lovely way to remember your baby sister.

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