Today is August 19th – a day of Hope. A day to talk about children gone too soon, whether they lived outside the womb or only within it. A day to remember those with hearts of mothers, but have not yet been able to conceive. A day to shatter the silence that surrounds child loss and infertility and to remember all those little footprints that have left a large imprint on our hearts.
Like many bereaved parents, I found my way to Carly Marie’s beautiful blog in the weeks following Xavier’s death. At the time (July 2012), Carly had just introduced her new project – an opportunity for the bereaved to make their babies prayer flags which would be strung and photographed on Christian’s beach. Being a crafty kind of person, this project seemed perfect.
Making things for people is one of the ways that I show love and this seemed such a beautiful way to express my love for Xavier. As I selected lace and ribbon and beads, I felt moments of calm that had previously eluded me. When I sat making the flag up for darling boy, I felt closer her to him than I had in some time. I had thought that preparing his funeral service (which I did meticulously) would be the last public act I would be able to do for my son. To realise that I could create and share that creation with others was a joyful discovery. In the quiet moments I spent sewing, embroidering, planning I felt like I was nurturing my son – it was a feeling akin to the sleepy, beautiful bubble that surrounds nursing your child. It helped me realise that my need to mother was not extinguished when Xavier’s life was. That there were still ways to connect with him that did not centre around sadness. I made two flags initially – copies of each other – one to send to Carly and the other to hang in our home. Last year, I was lucky enough to meet the gorgeous Carly and she told me that Xavier’s flag was amongst the first she received. When she posted a picture of it, amongst others, as inspiration to others I was so happy – not just because I was beyond flattered that Carly thought it beautiful but that so many more people would see Xavier’s name.
I was not ready to give up the healing that crafting the flags had given me, so I made several more, each with words that felt inspired by Xavier. Those flags now hang on our verandah, with fairy lights strung around them.
I made Xavier another flag on his first birthday this year and strung more ribbons. I have made flags for close friends on special occasions – another way to share Xavier’s love with those around me.
This year Carly is again hosting a Prayer Flag Project– this time each of us will photograph and share our flags to celebrate August 19th – Day of Hope. I decided to make a slightly different flag this time – my previous flags have all been ribbons, lace and ethereal beauty. This time I wanted to make something more earthy and representative of his presence on earth, rather than heaven. His sunshine is the most important symbol to us, so I chose to reflect that. Once again, creating for my son allowed me feel his presence and his peace.