Henry has always loved photographs. He regularly flips through his Project Life Album, a catalogue of his favourite people, his face lighting up as he sees mama and dada, granny and grandad. He likes to lead me around the house, pointing to the photo frames dotted around. And then he points to their photo, and I hear myself say, ‘That’s William and Noah. They’re your brothers,’ and the words sting in their abstract truth. He will only ever know them through photographs.
Somehow we have the task of raising Henry so that he knows his brothers, and their story, without being scared. But how can we expect him to ever grasp the absence of his siblings in his life, when we as adults still struggle with understanding how this could have happened? The simple answer is that there is no right way. There is only trusting our hearts, and our parenting instincts.
Until he’s older, we take him along with us to a special garden. It is a quiet garden, a peaceful garden. It is the place where his big brothers are laid to rest. Where there are tall trees that hold sweet birdsong, where there are bluebells dancing in the breeze, where the sun always shines and there are teddy bears and lanterns and colourful little windmills for little boys and girls who are loved so much by their parents who don’t get to hold them and kiss them.
I feel so serene being in the cemetery. It is full of so much love that it is truly palpable. It is a place we visit often, but especially each year on William and Noah’s birthday, when we do something special to celebrate them, to honour their lives and remember how profoundly they impacted ours. Soon we will no longer be able to visit their gravestone. There will be hundreds of thousands of miles between us. So instead we will create our own garden, for our boys. All of our boys – William, Noah, and Henry too. A place to sit and play. To water flowers and place small trinkets. A place to quietly remember or reflect.