Living in the land of the dead...
by Angela Westermann

Sitting here in the aftermath of the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, the day was spent in deep reflection of the lives lost in that horrible tragedy. I watched the different shows. Listening to all the stories of mothers and fathers and brother and sisters and husbands and wives lost in the terrible rubble. Leaving those left behind to pick up the pieces. The whole world grieved with those families and it was a good and patriotic thing to do.

My heart broke hearing the stories and I knew their pain. I began praying for their comfort and sense of peace. My mind began to wonder about the rest of us grieving for our babies. They were not lost in the rubble. They did not have the whole world grieving for them. No flags, no songs, no fitting tributes to recognize their short lives here with us.

Does that make their lives have less meaning?

I asked myself why is it ok for the world to grieve for those lost in a national tragedy, yet we as bereaved parents are urged to move on, to get over our children dying and to begin life anew. In the words of a nursing teacher as told to Susan, a bereaved mum, "You need to stop living in land of
the dead" -- I wonder if she knew how insensitive that remark was.

All of us are left to piece together our lives. Quickly all our hopes and dreams went to hell in a hand basket. We are left to find some semblance of normalcy. We are trying to find what we call "a new
normal." If "living in the land of the dead" means, making memories for a baby that is no longer here, carrying their sweet spirit with me no matter where I go, and remembering always the impact they
left on me...if it means that whatever I do, wherever I go, I will take my baby with me, right next to my heart. I will speak his name, I will tell his story so he will be remembered...then all of this constitutes me "living in the land of the dead."

My son did not have the chance to say his first words, to crawl or to even hear his mum say "I love you." He will not go to school, will not marry, nor will he have the chance to experience this world in which we live. His father will never teach him baseball or give him pony rides. Nor will he be able to
wrap his arm around his daddy for a hug. Nor a pat on the back for a job well done. So it's still our job to carry him forth. I want him to see the world, to experience love and laughter through my eyes.
It's all I have to offer him. NO ONE is going to take that away from him or from me or from his dad.

So just like 911 survivors and all the bereaved parents, I will put one foot in front of the other and go forward. Going forward does not mean forgetting, it means just that going forward, with my baby
snuggled next to me. So to the nursing instructor, who no doubt doesn't get it. Welcome to my world. And if after reading this and you still don't get it, you never will.


Author's Note:
Written for Andrew by his mum, Angela

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