Sunday, November 14, 2010

Your Tributes

We created another page (click on link to left) because you all have inspired us with your thoughtful and loving tributes to Elan.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


We've added a page of photos and keepsakes if you would like to see more of Elan. Click "Memory Page" to the left.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Opening and connecting

Elan's parents are doing well. We have had a meaningful weekend of rest, recreation, and stimulation. Yesterday we joined Allie and Jim at a symposium (Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream) that made us think and connect, followed by a walk to the grocery store and cooking a delicious soup together. Today we woke slowly and played with each other. We went for a hike at Torrey Pines State Park. We stopped to assist a fallen cyclist until the paramedics arrived, yet another reminder of the blessing we have all been given. We walked, talked, and connected, synthesizing ideas and heart.

We realize that another one of Elan's gift to us, has been to awaken parts of us more fully. We have been creative in our expression, open to many new things, and find meaning easily. Mostly we move slowly and it allows perspective. While we don't have a physical child to cherish, we cherish the symbols he has left for us and those we create together. We discuss how we want to live and hold space for ourselves, for our son, and for our future children. We have hope.

While we still have moments in the dark, the light continues to shine and we revel in the miracle of the everyday.

On our walk today, we talked about our deepening sense of spirituality; connection to each other and to the world beyond our embrace. Our senses are heightened to the space around us and we are guided by the strength and beauty within each of us.

While we had created space, slowness, and intention for this spirituality in receiving Elan each day during the pregnancy we are now able to more fully actualize it. All of our daily practices had prepared the soil for a deeper sense of purpose. While we were anticipating embracing our son's physical form and nourishing his spirit and creative expression, we planted seeds that allow us now to connect to a deeper sense of who we are. Through expression and discussion of our son, he gifts us and allows us to receive more spiritual and creative fulfillment ourselves. When something like this happens we seek to understand more fully, we look to faith or that which is unseen or unknown; that deeper sense of knowing, that is not manifested in practical explanation, is our spirituality.

In our walk today, we also discussed how the concept of success is intertwined with spirituality, however is often interpreted as an external achievement, rather than the contentment of connection with life. In it's simplest form success is in living and breathing, not in the attainment of something we do not have. We have life, in all its glory to celebrate. We all get to succeed each day in the simple act of living. We have arrived just by being. While ambition may lead us to pursue other images of success, compete towards some goal, or attain something, we are content that we have breath. We have been bestowed the ultimate gift already. We experience the miracle of life, thus we continue to be successful. This does not take away the human spirit or great accomplishments, but it equalizes success as something we all have achieved each and every day just by living. Everyday you wake up a success, there is nothing to battle, nothing to fight, regardless of position or status, you have already won.

Elan also has succeeded. Though he did not live outside the womb for a day, he inspires us to live. His spirit is miraculous as was his physical form.

We live in the simple; knowing that all that is to be attained comes from within and from the connections we have with others and life. Life is precious and miraculous, to be cherished. It is a gift to move slowly and savor it, connect with and receive it. It is beautiful.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The meaning of today, tomorrow, and the next

All the days are filled with love.

Today we were surrounded by the love of so many. The thoughtfulness and conscious prayers. The sharing of sorrow and the sharing of joy. The arms of others wrapped around us in the sweet honor of Elan Vie. We soaked it in.

Tomorrow we will surround each other with our own love. We will hold each other tightly and focus intently on our love story. We will be mindful of the gift of Elan Vie, our living vows, the journey at home together over the last weeks, the love in our gazes, our arms wrapped around each other. We will soak it in.

The day after tomorrow marks a new chapter as RJ returns to work. A chapter that we are hesitant to enter and yet know its value too. We will be loved in it and love back.

The days to come hold many gifts for us. They hold the gifts of new experiences, new sights and sounds. They hold the gifts of old and favorite soothing graces as well. They hold our son fondly in our features and in our hearts.

You who have held us and learned new ways to love are such a gift. You live with us more richly than ever before and you walk our path and build bridges for us. There is a knowing that we all share now that knocks at our doors in many ways, it has entered our lives. It is a knowing that asks no questions and demands no favors. You too have birthed, and you too absorb the beauty of the days that are to come.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Elan's great grandmother Bobe Tillie and the legacy of love

The weekend before Elan's birth, on Saturday September 11th, 2010, his last living great grandparent Tillie Panush, who we all affectionately call Bobe, passed at the age of 96. She lived a wonderful long life and has watched 4 daughters, 11 grandchildren, and 17 great grandchildren grow. Her passing was not shocking given her long life, but in the days preceding we interpreted the symbolism of her making room on earth for her 18th great grandchild, the son of her youngest grandchild.  We never really had time to mourn her and only now is it really sinking in that she is gone.

Bobe mingled with auspicious dates. She was born on December 25th and would joke that she had a special relationship with Jesus. Of course she would pass during a national day of mourning and reflection. As our family tells us, the Rabbi explained in her service that passing between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur indicates a special relationship with God. That Elan and her share this is somehow puzzling and beautiful at the same time to her grandson who does not seek religious answers, but finds comfort in spiritual ones.

Bobe had zeal and passion. She knew how to set the record straight, had a strong sense of moral equity, integrity, and she never hid her feelings. She read the NY Times cover to cover well into her nineties. She was a champion word-smith and scrabble player. She was tough and wise. She probably would not be best described as sweet, but she had a sweetness for children. She was tender, hid her problems, and protected the youngest.

We think on what Bobe's legacy is to our family, what she shares with Elan, what wisdom she would have imparted, and the blessings she offers in her living and dying. We miss her and yet are at peace with her passing, with easy knowledge of her time here. She shares a legacy of love and hope, of lightness and dark, of peace, with her youngest great grandchild. Perhaps she is holding him in her arms right now and together radiating their love on us.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

4 weeks

Tonight at 10:09 pm, Elan would have been 4 weeks old. We would probably be sharing photos with you, and telling our tales of baby adventures and learnings. We may be a little tired and with new tones in our expression. We would be bathing, changing, feeding and falling asleep with our son in our arms.

The reminders are everywhere on how precious it is to bring a life into this world and makes us still ask why us? Why after having such a healthy 40 weeks did our baby succumb to a bacteria in the last moments that is present in most women? How is it possible that his lungs could not take what is so routine that it is not screened for? Why could we have not gotten some warning sign, a change in heart beat, a fever in Jalene? Why do we have to be stuck in this after preparing with nothing but sacred energy? Others are blessed, some do not even value what they have and yet we have to live with this.

The autopsy conference has not happened and results are not final, but what we have learned would have changed nothing in our birthing process. Experts have told us that they would not have done anything different. We know there is peace in that and yet it is incredibly infuriating.

One of the stages of grief is acceptance. How is this acceptable? How can we ever accept that this happened? It does not mean that we cannot find meaning. We will find peace, but acceptance, who knows? Maybe it is just semantics.

We read chapters from the grief books and then we throw them against the wall. This is not fair, we shouldn't have to be reading this and you shouldn't have to be reading this.

Strength comes and it goes. We know you want us to be strong. We know you want us to eat and exercise, to do things for ourselves and have answers to small talk questions. We know you want to take it all away from us. You cannot. Know that 4 more weeks will arrive and we will still be Elan's mom and dad, that we want to talk of our son and we will still want to hold him in our arms. We are not easily distracted from him.

You can still fill us with love and peace. You can live each day fully. Hug your family and friends tightly. Say nice things to people, even strangers. Fill yourself with some meaningful activity and feel connected. Make up your own rules for life and be a good person.

Live each day in Elan's glow. Feel his champion heart and the power of compassion and love that you feel when you think of him.

Thank you to all of you who brought us meals, sent us food, flowers, plants, gave us books, held us, cried with us, and to all of you who have written to us over the last 4 weeks. Thank you for remembering our Elan and acknowledging our family. We all learn much together and through our suffering find new depths to our soul, and new ways to live.

The Spanish expression for giving birth is "dar luz", translated as to give light. We love sharing this expression as it reminds us of the beauty of child birth as the labor is so trivial when compared to the gift we are given. Life is about living in both the light and darkness, about being balanced, about rising to face each day with purpose and not being afraid when there is no illumination.

RJ and Jalene

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Parents forever

How do we parent you when you are everywhere at once and nowhere to be found? We show up for you unconditionally, always putting your needs ahead of ours. We celebrate the small ways you have improved our day and reminded us about importance, patience, and resiliency. We laugh when we all feel ridiculous, we cry at the pain, and model the honor it is to be your parents. We wear it on our sleeves, we are mom and dad to Elan Vie! We fill our home with new worlds for us all to explore. We live to our vows as your parents. We hold you so tight and release you in the same breath. We brag about how good looking you are. We wake up in the middle of the night for you. We love you deeply so that you may always know how and where to find peace.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Dear Elan

Dear Elan,

We miss you so much. It is true that your mommy and daddy have each other and for that we are eternally grateful. We have tremendous friends, family, and coworkers who have made it clear that they love us and you. For that we are also eternally grateful. But we miss you, our sweet son.

Do you remember how daddy would read The Places You'll Go, The Prophet, The Mojave, and My Daddy's Moustache to you in bed? Do you remember how mommy used to say "daddy is making us pancakes"? Do you remember how mommy used to feed you such excellent foods and how your palette was so eclectic already? Do you remember how much you made mommy race to the bathroom in the last few weeks? Do you remember how much mommy liked to take naps with you and feel the joy of deep contented rest? How mommy radiated and glowed with the joy and excitement of you? How people would tell her how beautiful she was and she would tell them that it was your light shining through. How we giggled at all of the little things, the joys, the wonders, the miracle of you.

We wish you could have met all of the little friends you had out there. Hudson, Ostend, and Ty were your buddies in waiting. We played with Hudson today and loved every minute of it, but it was also hard because we want to also be playing with you. For you to climb on our backs and throw grass at us, laugh at our silly faces, and hug us so sweetly.

We realize that we mourn the loss of what we were expecting to be and to do with you, but we so much mourn the loss of you. What we know of you and what we know in our hearts of who you were to become. We wrote of your gentle spirit, how we knew you would tread lightly, but firmly rooted. Your loving soul is so evident to us.

It is also evident, how vast the community is that was to raise you. Wilmington, Spain, DC, Nashville, St. Paul, San Diego, Canada, Kenya. There are people that love the people that love you that were waiting for other news of you. Your grandparents moved across the country to San Diego to be with the three of us in retirement and adore you, their first grandchild. We are so thankful that they are here with us now.

Your Nona wanted to show you the Shenandoah and PoppiStan wanted to teach you to sail. Pappap wanted to show you the birds, the butterfiles and dip your toes in the sand. Bodhi wanted to be your tree, get creative with you, dance with you and love you up. Your Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Jena would adventure with you to Africa and teach you of service to others. Your cousins Ben and Ziva would show you winter in St. Paul, celebrate Channukah with you and teach you silly things while Aunt Dani and Uncle Herman would watch you chase Lilly around the house. You would learn from them the grace of silence and the power of sound.

Trees have been planted in your honor, books given to children in need, artwork created, nourishment provided and love has truly surrounded our home. You have inspired your community with ripples of love and the preciousness of life. While we continue to take that in, we would give anything to hold you in our arms every day.

Good night son. We love you and we hold you close.


Mom and Dad

Sunday, September 26, 2010


We continue to cycle through moments of disbelief and acceptance. We fondly remember the precious moment we spent together at James and Jena's over Christmas when we thought we were not pregnant and then the hope and belief after doing some google research on implantation bleeding. We validated Elan's light on January 4, 2010 and then again on January 5th, January 8th through a blood test, and our 8 week first appointment with the doctor on January 28th. We were so excited.

The plus signs on the EPT were so strong and vibrant (and instant). What ensued was elation, celebration, protection, nurturing, tenderness, and making sure the whole world could share in our joy.

We took it slow at first, discussing what we needed from each other, our home, and our relationship before putting anything in to place. We shared with our friends and families. We read and read and read.

It is sweet to look back and reflect upon the whole journey since December and really since we met in 1999. It is hard to realize how much work we have put into ourselves, our marriage, and our emergence as parents and yet is comforting to know that we have such a strong foundation and belief to turn to. That belief keeps us steady and through the tears we are still able to validate our love. We love to love each other.

We realize that this moment does not define who we are as people and as a couple, and yet it is a defining moment and our lives have been transformed regardless of where we would have our intentions lead us. Preparing for pregnancy and emptying our individual plates, and then being pregnant together was one of the happiest times of our marriage. We would often tell people that along our journey. We had arrived at a true point of family, creating our dreams together united. After 5 1/2 years of marriage, Jalene changed her last name to Salus.

We have the journey so well documented both in writing and in photographs. Jalene's nutrition journal and the compost in our backyard even play a part in remembering how we lived and how we live. Each of us letting go of little things, so that we could focus on our little growing guiding light. We even have our little guy's heart beat tracked so well throughout pregnancy and then every contraction up until the operating room. There were never any warning signs.

We want to remember the time fondly, the awe we felt when we saw the anatomy ultrasound, when we found out we were having a boy, the gratitude we felt to everyone who gave us clothes or other baby items, watching Jalene's belly button disappear, feeling the first kick, listening to the heartbeat, taking a photo of momma's belly every 4 weeks, choosing Elan Vie's name, watching J float on noodles in the pool at Allie and Jim's. There are moments when these memories make us smile and moments when they remind us of what we don't have.

We would often say to each other, including Elan, "I love you guys with everything I got." We never imagined the depths of that sentiment. It supported us then, and buoys us know.

Your comments and love continue to support us. Although we are not able to talk to many of you in person yet, it helps us to know that you have heard, believe in us and continue to feel with us.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Your life and inspiration through Elan is powerful

As grieving parents, there are moments that we just want to sit and weep and then there are moments of such lucidity in which we feel guilty to share. We are so blessed by your outpouring of support and we are honored that you are thinking of us and our son. Elan's gift is ever present, thank you for loving us. We love you.

While closing our time at the hospital, we learned enough to know that neither we, nor any of the many providers did anything wrong. We learned enough to know that what happened to Elan was not preventable. There is tremendous peace in that for us.

When we left the hospital on Saturday, our nerves were raw, fearing that looking at the nursery, the little clothes, the journals we have written for Elan during pregnancy, the high chair, etc. would send us into intense grieving and we would not be able to breathe. Instead, what we felt when we returned home was incredible peace. Elan's room is beautiful, we made great choices, we know he loves it. Our journals are testaments to the journey we have been on and the deep reflection we made in honor of our son. There is nothing to fear at home.

We cried when we opened the refrigerator and found it full. Our family and friends have surrounded us and helped fill our space with the nutrients we need to begin this phase of our life. 

We held a small ceremony in our backyard yesterday to say goodbye to the physical loss of Elan and celebrate and honor him. Each person shared something personal about Elan, the anticipation of him, the loss of him, the moments of light and the moments of darkness we are all feeling. What we witnessed was healing in the most tender places. These people in our backyard stood for Elan, they stand for us, and we know you do too. There is so much to share about the ceremony and yet I don't know how to entirely do it justice. We invite anyone in attendance to share if they feel moved.

Here is what RJ shared as a tribute to our son:
Oh how we love you Elan Vie
How we celebrated you dancing in mommy’s womb
How we snuggled and held hands
How we got to know each other without ever embracing
How is it fair that we need to release you and not see what would have become of all of us in this home?

I say goodbye to all of the dreams we held for you and us together
I say goodbye to the dream of being your role model, guiding you, and watching you find your way
I say goodbye to dressing you in your fun outfits, pushing you in your stroller, and soothing the cries that we never got to hear
I say goodbye to watching your mother nurse you and the thought of the three of us cuddling in bed
I say goodbye to camping, playing in the waves, eating ice cream, monkeying, reading, and living each day with you in my arms
I say goodbye to the man I knew you would become and the journey we could have watched along the way

My Elan Vie, I say goodbye to these visions not because I want to, but because I was not given the choice

I celebrate who you were to me, the time we spent together when I read to you or kissed you or put my hand on momma to warm you and connect with you
I celebrate the love you showed me by kicking, by having such a terrific heartbeat, by passing every test, by being your sweetest and purist form
I celebrate what you have shown our community, our friends, our family; that we can share the gift of you by loving each other so deeply
You are our treasure, our affirmation of the gift of life and the pleasure of each moment

You are Elan Vie, our Elan de Vie, our sweet Elan Vie, Elan Vie

While I say goodbye to what you are no longer I welcome everything that you are to my each and every day



Today we were honored by the Buddhist Powa ceremony in our home. We will not go into detail about the ceremony, but will tell you that there were moments of great bliss in which we could feel that we were helping our son make a beautiful transition.

In gratitude and love,
RJ and Jalene

Friday, September 17, 2010

The gift of Elan Vie

Jalene and I conceived our beautiful son with intention and the purity of our love and sacredness of our marriage. We have been filled with light, passion. vigor, health, creativity and abundance as we basked in the pure joy and adventure of becoming parents. While we want nothing more than to celebrate his life, we also need to inform you that our newborn son Elan Vie Salus passed away moments after his birth on Tuesday night, September 14, 2010. 

We were conscious and made educated choices in pregnancy and birth and ensured Jalene and the baby’s safety while living to our values and following our hearts. We are filled with gratitude and love for the empowering birthing process that we created surrounded by amazing competence and determination. After a strong, graceful, courageous and beautiful birthing time in our home we made the choice to move to a hospital, where the doctor supported our wishes to continue as natural a birth as possible. When progress slowed, we all made the choice to deliver the baby via ceasarian birth. Elan’s vitals were strong throughout the whole process, including just prior to the delivery; however as soon as he was lifted from the womb he appeared unresponsive. The hospital team made every effort to revive Elan after he was separated from Jalene, but he died shortly after.
The reasons for this tragedy are not yet clear.

Jalene and I want everyone to know how much love we have felt  - for ourselves and for Elan – throughout the pregnancy, the birth, and Elan's short life. Though he passed quickly, perhaps he was so pure and filled with love that he did not need anything more in this world. Our young baby has shared a pure love no matter how brief his life. He didn’t need anything else –  he is complete.

The gift that our little boy gave us will be ever present. We have held him in our arms since day one of conception. While our pain is tremendous, we have felt love from Elan and from all of you. We know that all of you out there are thinking the most pure thoughts of love in honor of Elan. This is Elan’s gift to you, that you may know the full bounty of love and compassion that you feel for us in this loss, soak it in and never lose its purity. It is raw and painful, but it’s beauty is never ending. Our Elan, our son, our nephew, our grandson, our little sweet angel is shining on all of you in this moment and he wants you to take this gift with you and let it fill you and remind you of all the beauty and abundance of life.

Jalene expressed that she now knows what it is fully like to live in both the light and the dark. To give birth to life and have it taken away in the same moment. She and I want to give you the sweet thoughts we have of Elan and remember that he was so loved, so filled and so fulfilled. We believe he received a lifetime of pure love, that he did not need to accomplish anything in the physical world that we live in.

We would like to share with you why we chose the name Elan Vie so that you can truly know who he was and what he brings to all of us. Elan is Hebrew for tree, Vie is French for life. Thus we have our tree of life. Elan de Vie is a French expression for passion for life, life force, vigorous passion. So you see Elan brings the gift of living each moment to the fullest. This little tree grew so quickly and spread his limbs to allow us all to bask in the light when we need and he stands tall to provide us shade and comfort when the heat and hurt is too much. To see Elan’s sweet face and to feel the sweetness of his soul as we held him was a gift. The power of his sweet light is now his continued gift. He is forever an angel to our family.

May you bask in the purity of the love that you feel right in this moment.

Please leave your thoughts and prayers for Elan, and our family. The Salus/Nardella family will soon have a small intimate ceremony to honor the sacred journey that Elan has taken us all on. Jalene and I know that many of you would like to be there, that you want to embrace us and nourish us so that we may feel your love. In the days to come, there will be a time for you to provide physical comfort and for us to feel your embrace. We will need it. Right now we ask that you leave your thoughts here with permission that they may be used during this ceremony that celebrates the love that was created, the inspiration of life, and the true knowing of what it is to live in both the light and the dark.

This page is an open invitation for anyone that needs to begin this healing journey with us.

With love and gratitude,
RJ and Jalene