Saturday, January 9, 2010

How to word it

"So how many kids do you have?"

A question that makes me take a deep breath, knowing what's coming and that I have to quickly pop on a bit of armour, in case of the inevitable well-intended but ultimately dismissive reply.

Finally, after years of fumbling and not feeling terribly comfortable with the lack of impact that comes with me saying, "We have two daughters - (Lolly) who's 3 and Ellanor passed away when she was a baby, she would have been x this year," I have discovered what I'm going to say.

I was sitting with Steve watching Avatar in 3D the other night. Now, don't ask me why this came to me while I was there, for it's not really a movie where your mind can wander. But apparently, mine did.

I was thinking about the fact that, no matter how much I know Ellanor has meant to us and how "long" we had with her before she died (I get the feeling, often, that many people don't realise that not all prem babies are 'unresponsive' and 'just lie there'), whenever I describe us as having had 2 children "but just the one at home" or similar, it doesn't convey the incredible impact nor the inclusive nature of us as a family of four, even though one of us isn't here.

The sentence formed easily in my free-thinking mind. I'm very satisfied with how it sits, with me, and that it clearly indicates Ellanor is far from "dead and gone". Her essence has changed and shaped not only her parents, individually and as a couple, but also the nature of our parenting and how our family now functions. That kind of impact ought never to be unrealised, even in brief exchanges (where people would naturally have an understanding more of 'a family with two children' as opposed to the more alien 'family with one living and one dead child'.

So from now on, I'm going to be saying proudly to people who ask,

"We have two children - (Lolly) who's 3 and Ellanor who's been in our family for six years but passed away as a baby."

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