The season of Spring can be inspiring. As the dark, cold evenings fade into bright orange and pink sunsets, subtle signs of growth appear. Like the tops of tulips peeking above ground before fully blooming. Shades of green start to blend across the landscape. I am reminded of the freshness of new life. A restoration, a resurrection, a renewal.

The dirty remnants of cold, hard ground, chemicals that kept the roads from freezing, and leaves that never found their way off our lawns before Winter, are replaced by cherry blossoms bursting with tender, light petals that float. The air warms enough to walk outside without heavy clothing. We sense the possibility of the future. This seems especially so this year, after being isolated for the past 12 months.

My experience as this season approaches is always a multi faceted one: On the one hand, I stand in awe of the beautiful nature that is omnipresent. I am humbled and inspired by the reminder that nature is perfection itself. It doesn’t need calendars or alarm clocks or coaching. It just is, and it is always right on time.

On the other hand, simultaneously my heart aches become shards of glass that pierce every cell of my being, as I approach April 6th. This is the day that I knew my tiny son Emmanuel for only a few hours. A day that forever changed me with miracle and tragedy. The innocence of nature’s return is a reminder of my Son’s death just a few hours after his birth.

I am committed to capturing the events up to and including Emmanuel’s birth and death on April 6, 2002. They need to be expressed. I am not the only mother who has had to make tough decisions. I think opening up about my time with Emmanuel may bring a comfort to others, in the form of feeling less alone. My commitment to this journey is well underway.

For today, I want to share what I felt when a candle burned out early this morning. My family members and I have the same candle we call “Emmanuel’s” that we burn in his honor and memory. Sometimes I burn it daily, others I go for weeks and know its there but do not light it. Last night I lit it before going to sleep.

Typically the small votive tea light will burn safely inside the small, green pieces of glass that surround it, for a few hours. It goes out while I am asleep. At times when I reposition in the night, I am comforted to not ice it is still illuminated, and other times I am relived that it has burned out, the room is completely dark, and all is at peace.

Having done this for many years, I don’t recall a time when I was present in the exact moment the candle burned out. Until today. I turned over, half sleeping as I noticed the warm comfort of the candle providing a small, flickering light source. “I love you” I thought as Emmanuel’s tiny body appeared in my mind’s eye.

I closed my eyes, but did not go back to sleep. I opened them again and in an instant the light was gone. There may not be many folks who can relate to the power of this split second experience. But for those of you who get it, I wanted to memorialize what this was like.

Since I was holding Emmanuel when he drew his final breath, I felt as though I, for a second time (the first being my Daughter Alexis’ death in 1997) had the miraculous, humbling honor of being present when his spirit left his body. It was Divine. I felt closer to him than I have in 19 years. Of all the moments that votive could have stopped burning over the course of a night, I had the privilege of being present when it did.

My heart is broken and emanating light all at the same time. Like a stained glass window with big cracks throughout, my Momma’s heart is cracked, but not shattered. I am devastated by the loss of my Son’s life, while grateful to have known him for a short time.

When the candle of a spirit burns out, literally or figuratively, we have a choice to experience the duality of JOY and PAIN concomitantly. Maybe others have figured out a way to only experience one of the other, but in my life they are one in the same. Two sides of the same coin of Love.

I embrace both. Courageously, openly, and without anesthesia. Today I am reminded of Glennon Doyle’s powerful statement about grief. “Pain is the receipt we have for loving.”

I am grateful I was with Emmanuel when he took his first breath, and his last. I am not interested in forgetting what that feels like, only in trying to integrate it into my now life without him. When the candle burns out, the reminder of the one delicate moment that changed everything takes on a form. And then in a split second, returns to the formless.


Click to access the login or register cheese