I am fortunate enough to be the owner of a lot of really lovely shiny things that commemorate the birth and life of my Tiny Man. When he was born I received a pair of earrings and a necklace in his birthstone from Hubby. I also have a mommy bracelet that was made for me. It, too, has his birthstone and his name spelled out on it. It's not something I would have chosen for myself, but I wore it faithfully every day until Toast was born, when I received a second bracelet with both boys names on it. I love them. I also have a "B" on a silver chain, and few assorted bracelets made for me by hospice volunteers. I frequently wear a blue and yellow rubber bracelet for Down syndrome awareness. It's not dressy, but it's a daily reminder to myself and to others what one of my strongest priorities is. My two favorite things are a locket I received at Tiny Man's memorial, with his picture in it, of course; and a necklace that is now my every day wear. The second has two metal tags, each is stamped with a name...one for Tiny Man and one for Toast. I love it....it was my "push prize" from Hubby. *an aside*: I'm aware of the crassness of the term "push prize", but I made it abundantly clear to Hubby at the outset of our marriage that while I am NOT a girl who requires regular gifts of shiny things, it was of paramount importance that I receive the shiny gift of my choosing ASAP after bearing a child. It's okay for you to think this is shallow of me, I don't mind. I make up for it in other areas.
The purpose of this post isn't to enumerate my jewelry collection for you, but to share how some of these things are significant to me. I'm really not a dressy kind of girl. These items aren't expensive, they aren't flashy, and they don't hold a whole lot of monetary value. There are days, however, that I want to wear all of them at once. If I didn't think it would make me look like some ridiculous mommy-version of Mr. T, I probably would. They remind me of Tiny man. Of what he means to me, and they are a way to help keep him present in my daily life.
I have other Talismans too...but they aren't as visible. These are the gifts my son gave me.
I look at people with disabilities differently now. It isn't that I was judgemental or rude before; I was simply uncomfortable because I wasn't sure what to do or how to act. I didn't want to say anything wrong. Tiny man did so much to draw people in to him. Without a single word (he never learned to talk), he could draw a complete stranger to him, introduce himself, and hold a conversation. A simple smile, a laugh...the twinkle in those eyes that were so blue I couldn't have chosen the color in Photoshop if I wanted to. This gift of acceptance is a Talisman I carry with me every day. It helps me to see people better, to laugh at life (and myself), and to accept imperfection.
I worry less. I'm a planner, and boy did I try to plan everything about Tiny man's life. Before I even got pregnant I had a plan...when I would get pregnant, how it would work with my teaching schedule, when I would have to go back, what the baby would be doing at that age and how things would work out in daycare. When he was born I tried to think of a plan. There was none. We made a plan, instead, of what to do if he died in the car on the way home. Not the kind of plan I had in mind. After several months, we started thinking about the fall...would I return to work? Who would take care of him? How would his health be? I was so scared to stay home...scared of money (or the lack of it), scared of losing myself and my identity, scared of leaving my job, scared of being alone with him (though I didn't realize it at the time). All the old adages about planning? We all know them because they are all true: "we plan, god laughs"..."life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans"..."the best laid plans of mice and men"...it's all true. Instead I realized that if I stop trying to plan my life, I can actually live it. I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, or next week, or three months from now. I can make sure I'm ready for good things (be frugal, stay healthy, keep an open mind)...but I can't plan. It won't work. Another thing? When I stopped planning, I loved my life so much more...and I found that life loved me back and gave me gifts beyond what I thought possible.
I'm more forgiving. I know that in light of recent blog posts this may be difficult to understand, but it's true. I'm less likely to bristle over an off hand comment. I'm more likely to remember that people say things that they don't think through. I try to remember that I can't control other people and what they think, and sometimes the best thing to do is just walk away and Let. It. GO.
I've spent a lot of time this year, on the anniversary of Tiny Man's death, thinking about my Talismans...about how the lessons I learned from him still guide me. He really is my star...and he's still with me every day...helping me get through this life with some grace and dignity. It sounds like a cliche, but it's true that sometimes it's those who know the least that teach us the most.
I miss you, buddy. Every day. Still.