Dear Theodosia, what to say to you?
You have my eyes
You have your mother’s name
When you came into the world, you cried and it broke my heart
I’m dedicating every day to you….
When you smile, you knock me out, I fall apart
Autumn is eight months old today. Born on the 8th day of the 8th month and now 8 months old. She is sturdy and growing and I no longer fear that something will happen to a fragile infant. We thought that our two big kids were happy as babies, but she knocks them out of the park in terms of always smiling and laughing. As Theo likes to say, “I think Autumn loves her little life.”
This week, we were in the kitchen getting ready for school and Ger asked the Amazon Echo to play “Dear Theodosia” from Hamilton. I knew the Hamilton songs well before seeing the musical in Chicago in March, but for several songs I did not understand the full context, or appreciate, until seeing the actors perform. “Dear Theodosia” was one of those songs. Watching Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton sing so tenderly about their children tugged at my heart as a parent, especially lines like “There is so much more inside me now.” (The song made even more special by its title being the female version of Theodore.)
As Autumn ages, I begin to think of how loss is going to always be a part of her story. Her first “playdate” was with a group of other rainbow babies – babies born after loss. I saw a white dress on Instagram with a brilliant rainbow across the skirt and thought how perfect it would be for her first birthday (though I did not end up buying it). We will continue to attend events hosted by the SHARE support group of which I am a member.
I look at her and wonder “What will I say to you?” I have formed a narrative for Theo and Quentin that Nelle and Iris are a part of our family. Autumn will grow up with the same narrative, but with the added knowledge that she is “the one who came after.” The one that we waited for, the one that we hardly dared to hope for.
How to construct for her that she is not a shadow, but a light? One that burst through the darkness that had enveloped us for two years.
“When you smile, you knock me out, I fall apart.”
Her presence is such a different addition to our lives. Theo was the firstborn. Quentin expanded our hearts and our family. Nelle was to be our first daughter. Iris was to be our first living daughter, and our rainbow. Now Autumn is our first living daughter and our first living rainbow. She will always be a reminder, and I try not to let it always be a struggle. Her never-ending smile helps.