There are few rituals in my life. Very few. With young children, with a baby...having a routine is work. Having rituals. That is even harder.
But I have one. One that has been inviolate for four years. The Wave of Light. Lighting a candle for the babies lost. Not just mine, but every woman's. Little lights across the world that light houses, mark them as houses of loss. And this year - I didn't get to.
My candle sat, unlit. And, oh, how it bothered me. How it still does. Two days later, and I see it and feel lost. Sad. A little guilty. Because it wouldn't light.
I castigate myself. How could you not have backups. Backup lighters, backup candles, backup ANYTHING!!!
WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? HOW COULD YOU BE SO UNPREPARED?
1 1/2 years since Isaac, a little over two since Kayla, 3 years since Nathanael, almost 4 since Kasey. Close to five since Jessie.
And every year, I've lit that same candle. Given to me by another mom, one who lost her son too soon. But this year I couldn't.
How long doesn't seem to matter much, does it? A candle is what trips me up this week. What sets me back. With a knot in my stomach and the need to swallow a little to often.
I've met moms who shed tears for babies and children lost a lifetime ago. Women who see that flame dance and pray, just as I do, for grace or comfort or just...peace.
A flame that is the outward symbol of an inward life - the memories we hold of each child gone too soon.
The numbers are just that. Numbers. The cold facts. They've been gone for years. And that's so hard to fathom.
Kasey's grave has settled. It grows no grass, but is barren Texas clay. Their ashes rest on a shelf until we can afford something better. The children I have with me have grown so much, their chubby toddler cheeks giving way to the look of youth.
Time just keeps marching. Over me sometimes.