Eric: Today is Rylie and Avary’s second birthday. I miss them. I’ve never stopped missing them. In two full years now, our lives still revolve around them. Every single day we think about them, talk about them to one another – Danyelle and I – we ask Chloe if she sees them when she is focused on something invisible or when she suddenly calms with a bewildered look after a bout of playing or laughing. I believe that she sees her baby big sisters, but so far there has not been one ‘standout moment’ where I truly knew that they were communicating with her. Things like that – the supernatural? – the “life” after this one: I can’t help but hope and long some days for an afterlife. To be in some realm where Danyelle and I have our earthly kids and our departed kids all together again. I never use that term: “departed.” But because it occurred to me to write it, I think it’s worth mentioning that to me, now, the twins seem lost. Missing, but here somewhere. Like they are findable or recoverable somehow. I don’t know that I think of them as being dead, because I want to believe that if we do the right thing or wish hard enough that they will return. Departed. Like they went somewhere and we need to get them back. Like they were taken from us.
I call them my angels, too. But with that term comes a slue of other terms to consider. God. Heaven, religion, baptism, prayer, etc. I have really struggled with this. I have been forced to look at things inspired by those terms through a certain lens – the loss parent lens. The only absolute I can believe in with my whole being at this moment is that I will get to be with Rylie and Avary in some way in the future. I have never felt more in my life like the ‘unknown’ is unknown by everyone. So I very much struggle with the rest of it; the rest of those terms. Chloe has been “eligible” we’ll say, to be baptized for some months now – she can hold her head up by herself, etc. such that it is safe to perform the rite. Two years ago, this concept would not have even been a question in my mind: we would have had the twins baptized. Now, like so many other things in my life, I ask myself, “why?” I’m not taking a position against it by asking that, I just honestly need to discover why we do that and if it is still consistent with my absolute beliefs. Beliefs that have been refocused by the parent loss lens. I feel pressure to make a decision about how, if, and when to baptize Chloe because society expects us to have done it already at this point in her life. My struggle is ongoing, as it is for all loss parents most likely, and my thoughts are consumed by questions like: where are the twins? Will we all be together again one day? Since we’ll probably die at different times, how will that work? Is there a timeline in the afterlife? Like, are R and A “waiting” for us? Or is time fluid? Will they be old when we see them or will they be 20 weeks gestation old? Will we be old in the afterlife if we die when we’re old? I think heaven to me would include some way of “reliving” the past-that-could-have-been if we could have kept the twins. So that we can appreciate all of the cute baby stages and feeling the pride in watching them furniture-crawl, babble, giggle, smile purposely at us. Many people believe that heaven is a place where you are made perfect, free of wants and burdens. I feel broken because I am deprived of members of my family and so I want to believe that condition will be fixed when I die. A philosopher whose opinions I find meaning in writes that one hypothesis leads to an infinity of other hypotheses. He goes on to explain why that is; essentially because by revealing more information about something, more questions about the new information are begged, requiring their own testable hypotheses, and so on. I think I could continue to ask questions and muse about the afterlife forever, and I think those questions would continue to mount up in a bucket of unanswerable questions. This is what I mean by expressing that the ‘unknown’ is unknown by everyone. Eventually, my questions boil down to concepts that no one on the planet could possibly have evidence of or information with which to comment. So, it’s lonely, on top of everything else: speculating the whereabouts and conditions of my departed babies. Some days I am happy watching Chloe and smiling back at her big grin when I walk in through the back door after work. Some days I feel like leaving work early because I can’t handle the distractions of my thoughts of R and A and I need to go to a place where I can be with the other members of my family and talk about them. Life with Chloe in it has added meaning for Danyelle and I now, but this is not our happily-ever-after, we’re not better, we’re not recovered, and we never will be until we’re all together again, in whatever mysterious form that will take and however long from now that will be.