Her suggestion to read this book was because I have written recent posts about my struggles to both keep Zoë alive in my heart, mind, and soul, while simultaneously raising Esmée. She was suggesting it to let me know that I am not alone in this struggle, and there are others who have issues not passing along psychological problems to children born after a sibling has passed on.
I appreciate her attempt at this well-meaning advice, and I do not cringe at her giving it to me. What I cringe at is the author’s term, “replacement child.” How icky is that!!
So let me start back from before Zoë was diagnosed, or before we knew anything was wrong with her. Before our lives were turned upside down Zeppo and I had discussed that we would, (when the time was right), give Zoë a sibling. Zoë’s sibling is Esmée, and she showed up just a bit too late to meet her big sister. However, she was wanted long before cancer rocked our world. Long before Zoë was even born.
I have always wanted three children. Zeppo wants two. We shall see where we end up, but no matter what Esmée has not, and will not be a “replacement” for anyone, especially her big sister!
Now to combat Esmée feeling like she has to “live up to”, her sister’s legacy. Well, Esmée is on her own journey through life. She is shaping her own world, and quite frankly to be blunt, it is not hard to surpass the accomplishments of a five month old. So yes, Esmée will do, say, and become her own person not in the shadow of her sister, but hopefully with the messages that Zoë left behind. To love, and live as hard as you can, because life is SO short.
Losing Zoë left a hole in our lives. One that cannot be filled with Esmée, or any other child. It is a Zoë shaped hole, ten pounds of flesh and bone, of sparkling eyes, and gummy smiles. I will always have a child that is five months ten days old, even when I am eighty and someone asks, “how many children do you have?” I will say, “I have a five month old, and a forty-seven year old.” I also hope that someday I will have a sibling for Esmée to add to that count.
I have dreamed of three children, and who knows if the wind blows in my favor I might just get another baby someday, (when the time is right).
As for not passing on those psychological issues onto Esmée, or her sibling(s). I think that part of my lamentations of late are because in all reality Zoë passed away only fourteen months ago. As time passes my grief and morning will change. Although it will never go away it won’t be so raw.
Right now Esmée is not of an age that she can understand when Zeppo and I discuss Zoë. How we miss her. How we are dealing with our grief. Zeppo and I talk often about where we are, what we need… We still check in, and we still support each other. The best part of my day sometimes is hearing Zeppo tell me about how something reminded him of Zoë, or how he took pause to remember something. These conversations are private, and personal. They are times when we can tear up, and cry until we smile. They are not for Esmée.
As I have discussed before Esmée will be well aware that she had a sister before her. But all of our conversations will be age appropriate and organic. The time will come when I have to discuss big concepts to a little girl. I don’t know how it will go, and I don’t plan what I will say. But I do know that Esmée will not ever think that she is here because she is a “replacement”.