Today I Saw Thomas

I’m taking a day’s break from editing and posting about my unschooling book because my mind is elsewhere. You see, it’s our son Thomas’ birthday.

This morning, the girls and I visited the cemetery. When we arrived, we saw people preparing for a burial. A grave was open. There were chairs arranged in the shade ready for the bereaved who hadn’t yet arrived.

Thomas is buried at the back of the cemetery in the children’s section. As we got closer, we could see two bunches of flowers in the bowl that sits on top of his grave. Someone placed them there recently, probably on All Souls Day when the graves were blessed. We added our own flowers and a ‘Happy Birthday’ balloon. And then it was time for some birthday photos.

We were halfway through our photo session when someone cried, “Look!” and we all peered over the fence. There in the paddock were dozens of huge kangaroos. Our cameras swung towards them as they bounded over the grass. (Unfortunately, my photos aren’t very good, but I’m going to share Imogen’s video as soon as she uploads it to the Internet.) We’ve seen a lot of kangaroos recently. Are their numbers multiplying? Sightings of large mobs, even at midday, are becoming very common.

Once the kangaroos had disappeared between the trees, we finished taking our photos, and then we headed back towards the car. We wanted to be gone before the funeral party arrived. Despite it being Thomas’ birthday, the cemetery belongs to them today, and not us. Their sorrow is fresh. Ours is eighteen years old. Fortunately, we hadn’t planned to have our usual birthday picnic in the cemetery. Instead, we had lunch at McDonald’s on the way home.

Each year, I buy Thomas a birthday bear. This is Paul Bear, the newest addition to his collection.

And now I’m going to post a birthday story. Over the years, I’ve written a lot of stories about Thomas. I wrote Today I Saw Thomas a few years ago. I hope you enjoy reading it.


Today I Saw Thomas

This morning I saw Thomas…

My bedroom door opened and Gemma-Rose appeared. Without a word, she slipped under the quilt next to me and snuggled up close. Her deliciously cool skin touched mine as we lay in the warmth of the bed. I stroked her hair back off her forehead and I looked at her profile.

And I saw Thomas.

There is something about Gemma-Rose’s nose and her upper lip and the distance in between. I saw the same profile when I held Thomas. When he was disconnected from all the tubes and wires of his life support system, that beautiful nose and upper lip and that distance in between appeared.

Imogen also has the same profile. For months after Thomas died, I’d gaze at my five-year-old daughter trying to recapture our son. I could no longer look upon our baby, so I looked at his sister instead. I looked and I remembered and I tried to hold onto the picture of his face.

And this morning I saw Thomas again.

Our children are never really gone. The experience is never truly over. God always has one more gift, one more surprise to bestow upon us, if we keep looking.

“It’s a pity we have to get up,” I said to Gemma-Rose. “I could stay snuggled up to you all day. I could hug you forever.”

“We don’t have to get up,” she replied. “We could stay here all day.”

I remember snuggling up to Thomas. I couldn’t hug him forever. Eventually, I had to ring the bell for the nurse. I kissed him and laid him in her arms and said goodbye.

“We have to get up. We have jobs to do,” I said to Gemma-Rose.

“We could let the others do those,” she said with a cheeky grin.

“That would be lazy. No. Up you get.” I reluctantly disentangled myself from my daughter. Unfortunately, we can’t hug anyone forever.

But we can love. We can love forever.

And we should stop and hug and savour the moment, as often as we can. For if we do, we might just observe a little gift from God.

This morning I hugged Gemma-Rose. This morning I saw Thomas.

Happy Birthday, Thomas.


If you’d like to see the kangaroos at the cemetery, Imogen has included them in her latest vlog: A Week in My Life.

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Comments

  1. Reply

    This story I read when you first posted it some years ago. It is just as touching and tear-provoking today as then. Happy birthday, Thomas and God’s blessing to you all.

    1. Reply

      Charlotte,

      Thank you! “… some years ago.” These words make me realise that we’ve been blogging friends for a long time. I really enjoy sharing my stories with you and reading yours as well.

      May God bless you and your family too!

    • multitaskingmam
    • November 10, 2017
    Reply

    Love to you and the family and happy birthday Thomas. I love your new bear. xxx

    1. Reply

      Thank you for your love and birthday greetings!

      I almost didn’t buy Thomas a bear, and then at the last minute, Gemma-Rose and I wernt shopping for one. I didn’t really think we’d find a suitable bear because we have very few bear selling shops in town. (I usually order online.) But we discovered Paul waiting for us at the back of a newsagent’s. It all worked out well!

    • Luana
    • November 10, 2017
    Reply

    Happy birthday, Thomas!
    I am so thankful that you are sharing your Thomas stories. They are deeply touching and reading them over the years (and crying with them) has made me much more comfortable to reach out to mourning people and to have more courage to talk to them, even though I feel totally helpless. It is such a gift to hear your treasured memories and so powerful to witness your love for your precious son. I had a miscarriage few years ago and it was also very helpful to me to read your posts about loss and love, about your miscarriages and how it is normal that it hurts so deeply.
    I cannot even imagine how anyone can survive the pain you and your family got through. I think it still hurts hard, even after 18 years. But to witness all the beauty and joy and love for Thomas in your family feels heavenly. It is incredible how you have incorporated him in life of your family. It makes me happy to think how he must enjoy his Teddy-bears! Such a beautiful idea.
    I wonder who put flowers on his grave?

    We have visited cemetery for Holy Souls and I always find it very hard to visit children-cemetery. Their graves are so lovingly decorated and although we don`t know any of this children or parents, it hurts to even think that such a loss is possible.

    It will be a glorious moment when we will be able to see our babies in heaven!

    1. Reply

      Luana,

      I’m so glad that my stores have helped you when reaching out to other bereaved people. I always enjoy writing about Thomas. Readers have been so kind over the years, reading his stories, sharing their own, and making me feel that his life was very important depite it being so short. Thomas’ story makes me think that everyone has a special mission in life, even children who are only on this earth for a day.

      I’m very sorry to hear you also know the pain of losing a child through miscarriage. That kind of pain is especially hard because not many people are aware of it or they discount it. Maybe we don’t think we have permission to grieve deeply even though our hearts are aching so much.

      I smiled when I saw the flowers on Thomas’ grave. I also wonder who put them there. A similar thing happened soon after Thomas died. Later, I discovered a friend had added the flowers to Thomas’ flower bowl when she was visiting her own son who is also buried in the same cemetery.

      Oh yes, children’s graves are very sad. But you are right: It will be a glorious moemnt when we are all reunited in heaven!

      Thank you so much for stopping by to chat about Thomas. I appreciate your birthday greetings!

    • Nancy
    • November 10, 2017
    Reply

    Dear Sue, I was so touched by your story about Thomas. I am so sorry for your loss, I have never lost a baby. So I don’t know what that would feel like, but when I was 12 years old my father was killed in an accident so I do understand the suddenness of loss. I’m glad your family is able to celebrate at his birthday. And the bear is just precious. Praying for you that the Lord would give you peace. So glad you have such a loving family. In fact Sue my father died in November. So we do have a connection in that way. Love you, Nancy

    1. Reply

      Nancy,

      I’m so sorry to hear you lost your father as a result of an accident. How difficult that must have been, especially as you were at an age when you really needed him. I imagine a huge hole appeared in your life that nothing else has really been able to fill. Baby-sized holes, and I imagine Dad-sized holes as well, do get buried away inside of us for most of the year, But the pain rushes back to the surface during birthdays and anniversaries.

      We do indeed have a connection. When I am remembering Thomas in November, I shall think of you and your father. Thank you for your love and prayers. I shall pray for you too. Sending you hugs xxx

  2. Reply

    What a sweet experience. 💕 Thank you for sharing it. I am amazed at how well you can write about things so close to your heart. It is a gift!

    1. Reply

      Venisa,

      Oh yes, the words come straight from my heart. It’s easier to write when I know I have a kind audience who understand. I don’t have to keep my thoughts and feelings to myself because I have good friends who want to share. Thank you for reading my story and for being so thoughtful on Thomas’ birthday.

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