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My Teddy candle

September 18, 2008

I think of our Teddy all the time, of course. His absence is so present to me that I couldn’t shake it off if I wanted to, and part of being haunted by this absence is that I am constantly pouring over what I’ve lost, what he was when we were lucky enough to have him, what he may have become if we’d been lucky enough to keep him. So I cry, and I look hungrily at all of our photographs of him, and I call out for him. Pain and memory are as much a part of my current existence as the air I breathe, and I would not expect anything else just now, but last week I began wanting to remember him in a gentler, more intentional way. I started lighting a particular candle in the evenings, and when lighting it, I would say (not necessarily aloud), “We love you, Teddy.”

I ordered a votive candle holder last week, and I splurged just a bit; it is crystal, and shaped like a teardrop. I like to think that some day I may be able to think of it as also being shaped like a new leaf, but for now it is purely a teardrop. It arrived today, over-packed in biodegradable peanuts, box within box – shipping and handling’s version of Russian nesting dolls – and I think the splurge was worth it. The crystal is clear and icy, probably clearer than the actual teardrops that leave salt splatters on my glasses and salt residue on my contact lenses. A candle in that holder sits tonight in my living room, flame and crystal, fire and water, flicker and glimmer, a small and lovely light lovingly reflected, a votive.

The OED has several definitions for votive, and here are a couple that resonate:

Dedicated, consecrated, offered, erected, etc., in consequence of, or in fulfillment of, a vow.

Consisting in, expressive of, a vow, desire, or wish.

Vowing to remember Teddy isn’t something I’ll ever need to do, but I find myself doing it anyway, with vehemence. It feels right, to dedicate a candle’s light to the remembrance of my son, to create a simple ritual for him, and this little flame seems sadly but hopefully appropriate.

And I don’t know what I am wishing for anymore, but I am wishing.

I love you, Teddy.

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