Alicia and Derek kept Baby Burton home after his death for "the most meaningful time" in their lives.
Continuing to Remember Baby Burton
I often think back to the first few days after my first-born infant son died. Because of the help from Kateyanne Unullisi, we were able to keep him home with us for three days after his death, which was good because I wasn’t ready to let him go. And I was in the middle of reading all the classic childhood books to him. Because of the extra time, I was able to finish up "Charlotte’s Web" and read the entire "Little Prince" to him.
As Kateyanne details in herblog about helping us make Burton’s death beautiful and sanctified, I was scared of death and dead bodies, but I also knew that I wanted every moment I could possibly have with my baby. The time that we were given to say goodbye and have our family and friends say goodbye, to read to him and rock to him, to wash and dress him in adorable pajamas, was the most meaningful time in my life.
Those three days helped me realize that my baby’s energy and soul were truly no longer in the form of his body. On the last day, I remember with love putting Burton’s small body into a beautiful basket, I remember the funeral director that brought us the basket and helped us through the paperwork. I remember placing beads that I had gotten in India in the basket as well as other tokens from family members. I remember walking across the street holding the basket between myself and my husband and loading it into the limousine that was waiting to take the three of us to the crematorium, one of us settling in on each side.
I wondered if any of my neighbors were looking out of their windows and if they had any idea what we were carrying between us. I remember driving down our street, Orcas Street, then down 52nd, and a left onto Genesee, where Both Ways Café is, and seeing my neighbor walk into the shop. I wondered if she knew that I was riding in a limo with my baby who had died and if she knew we were taking him to the crematorium. And if she knew how sad I was. I was amazed that life outside of ours was going on.
When we arrived at the funeral home, we kept one foot moving in front of the other. I didn’t want to have to do any of this. But if it had to be done, I didn’t want anyone else to do it even more. We got out of the limo, carried the little basket between us and set it on the rim of the crematorium. We grabbed hands and walked across the street to be ready to sit in a circle in the grass with my beloved family to witness the last ounces of energy be released as his body turned into flame. It was exactly 11:11 a.m. on November 5, 2013.
We’ve since moved to a new town north of Seattle, but I do visit my old neighborhood regularly. I look to the sky above the crematorium and connect with the last place my son's body existed nearly every time I am there. In some ways I’m glad we moved within two years of the death. It feels like the memories of him are preserved in the places we were together there and I will always value that.
A year to the day from Burton’s birthday, I became pregnant with Burton’s little sister, Lucia. Don’t ask me how I know, I just do. That pregnancy was one of the most difficult times of my life. Unlike my pregnancy with Burton, I was extremely uncomfortable, restless, couldn’t sleep, and felt terrible most of the time. Looking back on it now, it is clear to me that I was in the middle of a 9-month anxiety attack that could only be alleviated by holding my healthy baby in my arms. Lucia was born and we filled up with love again. She brought light back into our lives. She saved me.
Two years later, another little sister, Cleo, was born. Her pregnancy was fine. My body and soul had learned that it was possible to have a healthy baby, a positive outcome, and they chose to trust that this time. Now, seven years later, we are a joyful and empathetic family of five, one of whom you can not see. We honor Burton and remember him together every day. Sometimes I think that some part of him was born again with his littlest sister. There is something about her that makes me feel the way I felt when I was with Burton. I will always miss my son, but I am so very lucky that he made me a mom and paved the way for the rest of us to have rich and meaningful lives.
Landscape photos courtesy of Sean Proll Justin Craig All Rights Reserved
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