There's Someone Missing This Thanksgiving

November 23, 2017

By Sanda Rathamone
November 23, 2017

You will always have a place in our table.
It has now been seventeen months without Elijah and I wish that I could find the right words to describe how painful the holidays feel without him. The only word that I could think of is: incomplete.

It's not a real Thanksgiving without Elijah. 

This year's Thanksgiving would be Elijah's first (where he could actually be seated at the table)... oh how there are so many firsts that I wish we could witness with him...

Today, he would be a year-and-almost-a-month-old, nearly thirteen months. He would be the light in my eyes and the joy in my smile, while we enjoy Thanksgiving dinner. He, along with Jazmine - his younger cousin - would be the highlight of our family bonding, they would be playing together.

It was not only difficult for me to celebrate my twenty-fifth birthday the past week, it was also a dreadful couple of days before Thanksgiving.

My health professor ended our class with a video about gratitude from the perspectives of a young girl and an old man. And while watching this video, I couldn't help but feel so ungrateful. It's strange because the past few or so months, I have felt so grateful for life! It just didn't make any sense of how watching this video now made me feel that there was nothing left to be grateful for. I just couldn't shun the thought that Elijah should be here.

Moreover, this Thanksgiving would be the first holiday that I would actually stay home and celebrate with my husband's family. I knew that a part of me would struggle in keeping my grief "in check."

And then yesterday, my child development professor mentioned the very question that shattered my heart.

She asked, "Could you please raise your hands if you are a parent?"

Of course, we talk about preschoolers, babies, and pregnancy in this class - I'm a child development major and know to expect questions like this - but it still hurts to hear this question. Because I know that she is asking based on the intent to receive answers from or explain something to "experienced" parents. I also know that she does not mean to cause any emotional harm to stillbirth parents and most likely is unaware of the effects of this question to those who grieve a loss or even struggle with infertility.

But it hurts and that's my truth. It. hurts. 

I wanted to raise my hand, I wanted to say, "me, too." when she said, "oh, there's only just a few of us." She made it sound like it was a "club" to be a parent. But, I didn't say anything nor raised my hand. I just sat there feeling like I betrayed Elijah - I should have raised my hand.

Is it stupid to admit that I feel guilty for not doing so?

Thanksgiving dinner turned out to be just as I expected: a house full of family, a busy kitchen, lots of food, some conversations, a bit of laughter, and most of all, all eyes on Jazmine, including mine. I only wish that she was not the only baby present and that she and Elijah would be sharing toys and crawling and climbing on all and any surface they could reach.

Elijah would be just four months older than Jazmine, possibly showing her the ropes to things he has learned to do...

I sat just across from Jazmine and her mother and felt that Elijah should be in my lap, eating with me -  even something as small as this means so much to me. But, my lap felt empty, my arms incomplete. Although, I did feel that Elijah was trying to comfort me - he sent me his numbers to remind me that he is always with me.

Maybe that is why I am writing this: to show parents with living children that it is such a blessing to be in the presence of your children and them of you. To cherish every moment with your child, to hold on tight to them, and to kiss them every chance you get. Because there will never be another moment just like this one.

My health professor also said that, "When we are asked what we are grateful for, no one really mentions materialistic things." But, who knows? There might actually be someone who does!

It took me a little while, but I rediscovered what I am grateful for:

I am grateful for having one of two hearts that ultimately knows what it means and how it feels to love Elijah. There is no other deeper love than the love for those we have lost. 

Happy First Thanksgiving, Elijah.
We miss you.

Elijah Rathamone-Saeteurn
Born June 16, 2016 @6:51 a.m.
10 inches 9.9 ounces
Due October 30, 2016

Must Reads: 
 Read the full story about Elijah:
Elijah's Story: From Gender Reveal To A Spontaneous Delivery

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