Yesterday I went to a Butterfly Release/ Remembrance Service at MarianJoy Rehabilitation Hospital. They hold this celebration annually to honor and remember those small patients they’ve lost over the years. Benjamin went to Marianjoy for speech therapy, doctor appointments and other clinics.
I’ve been to many candle lightings, balloon releases, remembrance services or grief meetings over the past 15 months. And I always think that I will get up and talk about Benjamin at these events – be that person that can just stand up and be so eloquent off the cuff, and truly explain what this feels like, or what I miss about him, or how I’ve adapted. Sometimes I stand up, sometimes I don’t. Today I didn’t – I didn’t have the words I wanted to express. Even if I don't speak up, it's comforting in some weird sad way to know and be reminded that I am not the only mother who has ever lost a child.
I heard somewhere recently that once you’ve experienced significant loss, you have a new starting point. You will never know life or happiness as you did before the loss. But your (or my) life as it is right now, is the new starting point, the benchmark, ground zero so to speak. I have to figure out how to make it better from this new point – because it will never be as it was before. My ‘way’ and my therapy was to start Ben Smiles – during his life, we worked so hard for him. And now in his death, I still needed to work for him and make his life count.
At the Butterfly release, each bereaved family receives a butterfly to set free into the garden. It’s amazing how these beautiful butterflies can be kept cool in a dormant state in these small little sleeves. Once they’re ‘awakened’ and released, they fly off as these brilliant and peaceful images of life. And I imagine it’s my sweet Benjamin flying free, flitting all around us, free from his struggles.
And there he goes.