The new plan

August 12, 2010

We aren’t going to Portland, after all.  I have mixed feelings about this – disappointment, relief, worry that we need to make this trip and may never actually bring ourselves to do it.

I’d finally found myself in a place where I was ready to go, where I wanted to go, but I am not the only part of this equation.  N would have gone, for me, if I’d needed to, but he’s not there yet, not in a place where a visit would be helpful or healing.  We put Dot in her stroller several nights ago and walked around and around as we talked about the trip, about Teddy, about missing him, about where we are now, about how sad we are that we didn’t unwrap him and hold his feet after he died.  It was the kind of conversation that we haven’t been able to have much lately, and the kind of conversation I wish we could have more often.  We live together and speak with each other every day, we sleep in the same bed and wake up together each morning, but it’s been a surprisingly long time since we’ve talked. With Dot and work and fantasy baseball and all of the family visits, it’s finally becoming clear to us that we need to engineer more time for real talks, that they don’t just happen.  Now that we’ve admitted this, I think we’re in a better place.

So, no pilgrimage this month, but I still need something to do, a way to mark the 15th and 16th, a ritual, a way to acknowledge Teddy’s existence and how much we loved and love him.  So I copied Angie’s really wonderful idea of random kindness, and I’m going to be asking friends at work and away from work to do some small act of kindness this weekend or next week, to make the world a little brighter.  Tomorrow, I’ll post the following text (or something very like it – it’s still rather drafty) to my fac.ebook page and link to it from twitter.

On August 15, two years ago, my son Teddy was born.  He was an amazingly beautiful little baby.  On August 16, his father and I held him in a hospital garden as he died.  We miss him every day.  Missing him doesn’t mean that our lives are bad, or that we are sad all of the time; we’re not.  We love each other, our daughter, and our friends.  We still laugh and love and go on with our lives, but we know that the world is the poorer for the absence of our son.  Because he would have grown to be funny, kind, brave and loving, and he would have brightened the lives around him.

I want him back, every day.  I can’t have that, but I can try to bring a little brightness to the world.  Not as much as he would have done, but a little.  So this weekend, and next week I will be trying to be extra kind, to do occasional unexpected things to make people smile.  And I’m asking you, if you can, to please do something small to make the world a little brighter for someone around you.

If you’d like ideas, here are a few possibilities:

  • Buy someone you know a coffee or a treat.
  • Buy coffee or a treat for a complete stranger.
  • In the cool of the evening, take a walk by yourself or with someone you love.
  • Forgive someone.
  • Forgive yourself.
  • Give money or time to a cause you believe in.  If you’d like a suggestion, March of Dimes and Ronald McDonald House Charities are two of many good causes that help babies and families.
  • Give someone flowers.
  • Give yourself flowers.
  • Take a minute to admire the small beauties around you – the clouds, or a sunrise, or the flowers you walk past on your way to work.
  • Call or visit someone lonely and talk with them for a while.
  • Tell someone you love that you love them.
  • Plant something.
  • Hug your family.
  • Share a favorite book , story, or poem.
  • Tell someone thank you.

Thank you.

This isn’t easy for me.  I don’t talk much about my son at work; I cringe at making other people uncomfortable or sad, and I’ll be coming out as a grieving parent to several friends who don’t know much about my life two years ago.  But I hope it will be good, and I hope it will help people to take note of the love in their lives and to take time to appreciate good things, to appreciate being able to share good things.  It will help me to do something positive, to try to create a little bit of light.

I’ll be remembering others along with him and wishing the world could be brightened by their presences, too.



  1. I will be remembering Teddy over the coming days. The world is certainly the poorer for his absence.
    I’m sure he would have been the funny, brave, kind and loving little boy you describe and that he would have taken those qualities into manhood with him.
    I am sorry.

  2. You’re an amazing mother, Erica. To both of your babies. This post made me go weak at the knees.
    Thinking of Teddy so much.

  3. What a sweet post to honor your son. I’m so sorry Teddy is not here with you, with all of us. I will be thinking of him and you on Sunday.

  4. It is wonderful that you got to talk, and to honor the place where each is at.
    I will be remembering with you, and I will remember to be kind. xo

  5. I’m late, but I will absolutely do something kind in memory of your little Teddy.

    We do this every year for Thomas too, and I find it such a wonderful, healing thing. Two years ago I started a Facebook group (March 9th Random Act of Kindness Day) that blossomed to more than 6000 people this year, and all I could think on his birthday was that people from all around the world were making the planet a tiny bit nicer, sweeter, and happier that day all because he was here.

    And now, this week, it’s a happier place because of Teddy.

    They live on. They do.


  6. Belated, but I will spread some brightness in Teddy’s memory in the following days.

    Hope you guys had some peace and calm this week, but mostly love.

  7. Hello on this belated anniversary of your son’s birth and death. I am so sorry. I know you miss him terribly.

    This is such a lovely idea to memorialize him. It is late but I will certainly do one of those things in Teddy’s honor today.

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