I met a new four month old baby today. She is the daughter of a friend whom I have known since she was eleven and is now thirty-one! She is a wonderful mom of three; the oldest not yet four.
It was apparent that this new baby girl was used to being the center of attention by the way she handled being oohed and aahed over as we passed her around. My kids couldn't get enough of her and loved watching her imitate the faces they made. Look at how expressive she is; lighting up her world with a great smile and beautiful eyes!
I can't think of a greater joy in this life than the miracle of a newborn baby. I could spend hours just watching them. When my husband and I would announce that we were going to have another baby, our other children would start shouting with joy. One time chairs literally fell over backwards at the dinner table as the kids jumped up full of happiness! What gift could be greater for a child than the gift of a new brother or sister; another person to share their life with; one who will know them and always care about their joys and sorrows.
Many people have said to us since Dan's death, "At least you have other children." This is true; we have seven other children and a granddaughter. I'm never exactly sure though, what to make of this comment. I always assume that people have some sense that in losing one's only child there would be additional sorrow that would make the grieving even more complex.
Having other children though, in and of itself, doesn't necessarily make the grieving easier. One of the painful realities for me after the loss of Dan was knowing how sorrowful the other members of my family were and yet, at times, not being able to help them as much as I would have liked because of my own debilitating sorrow. Also seeing our children suffer so intensely is an experience I wouldn't wish on anyone. The protection of children is such a natural part of parenting that to witness their intense suffering compounds our grief.
Also, the truth that every person is a unique and unrepeatable creation means that when they are gone from us, they don't leave just any old void, gap, or hole. They leave their void, their gap, their hole in our hearts. The difference in our lives now is not just that we have seven children here with us instead of eight; it's not a numbers thing; it's that Dan isn't here with us. Dan became a part of our family from the moment we realized his presence, and just saying his name brings to mind all that he did and was for each one of us individually.
No person can be replaced by another. Every person changes the world permanently simply by their existence. In light of this, I'm so glad we got to meet our new little friend pictured above. She's already had a huge impact on so many in her short life.