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


  1. We love you and think of you at such moments as you describe, we are also kinder and more patient with others, We hug each other more and we send you our love. We are mad too. We have such anger and pain that we do not know what to do with it all. We are trying to be gentle with this fierce pain, it threatens to overwhelm us and engulf us. We cannot believe you two are able to breathe and then we remember who you are and that you have each other. We are thankful for that. THIS IS NOT FAIR! and we shout at the rawness of this deal. In the end the only thing we can do is tell you again how much we love you and pray for you everyday. Until we can hug you both in our arms this is what we do. Aunt Sharon and Uncle Frank

  2. My name is Trista and I live in Wilmington, NC. I'm trying to see as I write through my floods of tears. My heart has been aching for you for the past month. You have been in my thoughts and on my daily prayer wheel. I know the excruciating, indescribable pain you are experiencing. I’ve been through the confusion and frustration. I know about throwing books against the wall. I know how surreal it is to wrap birth and death all into one package. My greatest wish is that NO ONE, not one single person on this planet, would ever have to suffer through this. You see, my husband, Alejandro, and I lost our Natalia Belén at 40 weeks and 3 days last August 29, 2009.

    I had some email exchanges with your sweet mother, Allie, back in May, when she helped me pray for the safe arrival of another friend’s second baby. My friend had already lost her precious Luke and we were all terrified of the outcome for her little girl in May. In an interesting twist, your Elan and my friend’s little Luke must have a connection, because I notice that you have hummingbirds adorning your page and that is Luke’s sign for his family as well!

    Believe me, I would be hurting for any family who had suffered this kind of loss, but I could tell by Allie’s emails that your family is extra special and your blog is proof of that. Your words are so accurate and eloquent. I am quick with the jokes, but I have always been tight-lipped with difficult sentiments and I truly admire your ability to share this tragedy with the rest of the world. That is a testament of how unique and special Elan is. One month after having lost Natalia I still hadn’t left the house. I wouldn’t even venture out onto the porch to get the mail. Fourteen months later, I wish I had some magical words of wisdom, but you know that nothing anyone could say would ever change the outcome. I have learned to be more gentle with myself and to really focus on the important things like family and friends. After this kind of trauma, I realized that not a lot really matters in this world, except the relationships we have with others, even strangers. That’s not to say that nothing is important, but the paperwork, and a broken plate or a missed appointment isn’t worth the stress it used to cause me. It took my Natalia, a newborn infant, to teach me these lessons and with her strength, I’ve been able to set aside all the negative aspects that life brings sometimes. I know your Elan will do the same for you. The reach of these babies is so incredible – as you mentioned – on a global level.

    Please know that your Elan will always be remembered, not only by your family and friends, but by strangers like me. I now count him as one of Natalia’s best friends in heaven and I am sure that they, along with all the other babies, are causing quite a commotion! I will light a candle for him this coming Friday, October 15, for Infant Loss Day. Peace, love and hope to you and your family, Trista

  3. I've been out of the country and disconnected from you guys. As my yahoo mail account fails to work, I accidentally stumbled onto your blog. I want to give my condolenses and support. You guys are amazing people and I know you're holding up as strong as ever and in the spirit that symbolizes Elan's parents. Please call if you need anything.

  4. Jalene and RJ,
    I just got off the phone with Jena in Zambia and we are both remembering today, as life was one month ago, full of anticipation and excitement. It is almost cruel that time moves on. We do not expect you to be easily distracted from it today or a month from today, as we are not either. We can not take it away, as you say here, though we wish with our whole lives we could. I agree that this is not acceptable. Some how we will be forced to make peace with what is not at all kind or fair. This is not where you are supposed to be right now. And yet, we love you so deeply in it. It hurts to be continents away today. Somehow in the midst of all of this I am not sure that we could love you more.

    Today was my first full day in Lwala. At our meeting this morning, the staff offered sweet condolences. I let them know that it has been very hard for us. There are so many in this place who have lost children and even here there is compassion for you who are so far away.

    James and Jena

  5. RJ & Jalene,
    Blessings, love, light and peace are sent your way so often throughout the day. RJ as I pass your office and see your pictures of your beautiful Jalene and the look of love upon your faces, I send you both light and love. Backpacking with my son this past weekend, I thought of you both. I held him closer and treasured our memories we were creating. He is my light as Elan is yours. Thank you for being you. Love you both!

  6. Dearest RJ and Jalene,

    After reading your most recent tribute and expression of grief and questioning, I want to go on record as someone who does not "want you to be strong." I envision you being exactly as you are in each moment. I honor your sacred process. I honor all of what there is to express and revel at "you throwing the book against the wall."

    Blessings and Love All Ways,
    Jean and Chuck

  7. Dear sweet Mommie and Daddy of Elan Vie....

    How my heart breaks for your pain and sadness, but at the same time, how it also beams with pride from the honor of being a friend of such a remarkable, beautiful family.

    I understand your struggle with just day to day survival and you're so right, RJ, no no one can take away your pain. No one can distract you from the fact that you don't have your precious son with you in your bed and delighting you with every little daily sign of growth and development.

    Be angry...you've earned it. Hold onto the anger as long as you need to. Throw books, scream, beat pillows, rant, rave...do whatever it takes to get it out. In time, you won't need it quite so much...but only the two of you can decide when that time will be.

    I think everyone one of us share your anger and we all wonder...why these people? Why Elan? It makes no sense and it's just not right. Everyday you will encounter mothers and fathers who don't have a clue as to how fortunate they are. You will wonder how can it be that they have these healthy children...how is is that they are allowed into a room that's closed to you? There are no answers. The truth is...it's a pain you learn to live with.

    Take your time...be patient with yourselves and give yourselves permission to have days when you feel you're going backwards instead of forward. There's no time frame on this or any right way to go through it. You do what works for you.

    I think both of you, Jalene and RJ, are two of the most beautiful, loving, compassionate people I've ever known. Just know that we are showering you with love and peace and all the healing light we have to share. As your friend said in an earlier post...I honor you..I honor where you are and wherever you may need to be. And, I honor your beautiful boy and the special place he holds in all our hearts.
    Peace and love...

  8. RJ and Jalene...you don't know me, but my nephew, Makai, was stillborn at 36 weeks just a few days before your Elan, and your words touched me deeply.

    It's amazing how these little creatures can leave a hole in our hearts and yet fill them with light and love and gratitude for having known them, and for the brief moments we had with their little earthly forms.

    I hope you are able to find comfort and sanctuary in each other and the ones who obviously love you so very much. My thoughts and loving feelings are with you and your families!

  9. Dear Jalene and RJ,

    I've been crying for an hour or so, somber and sad after reading the news that Elan lived only briefly in this world with us. You have reminded me to treasure the two babies that I do have, Kramer 3.5 years and Karma 20 months. After having two miscarriages this year I have often been caught up in my own grief and anger over the loss I feel for a baby not here that leaves an empty place in my arms. When I read your words I think how can I feel this way when you both are so strong?

    I only met Jalene briefly through Babywearing, but her spirit and energy touched me. I have been thinking of you often these last several weeks. I was always imagining you both calmly wearing your baby, or perhaps all sleeping together in bed. This is unimaginable.

    My family and I will send you our love and I hope to meet up again in the future so that we can all give a warm hug.

    With Love,
    Kelly, Paul, Kramer & Karma

  10. Dear. dear, dear Jalene and RJ,
    I hold you in my heart, and I cry hoping that my tears can somehow lessen yours.

    Having this window into your journey through this blog does help me to be more present in my own life. Thank you.

    While I know you don't need permission to be angry, sad, unaccepting,... I am touched by your honesty and authenticity. Thank you.

    I am humbled, grateful and inspired knowing you.


  11. I found your story through my friend Chris Sterling. I am very sorry for your loss.

  12. Dear RJ and Jalene,
    I only recently heard about your beautiful Elan Vie from Kristine. I'm so sorry he left before you had the chance to see him grow up. You two are amazing, spiritual people with a huge circle of family and friends who will be there to support you through your grief. Please know that the circle is bigger than you even imagined and your little Elan Vie has touched so many others' lives in his short time here. He is happy, he is good and now he will watch over you.
    Thank you for sharing your love, your letters and your honesty with all of us. My daily thoughts and actions will be much more appreciative to what special gifts I have been given in this life, thanks to you.
    Please know my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family as you go through such heartbreak and such light.
    Shannon Marchal