After Emma was stillborn a slew of gifts arrived our way. There were cards, flowers, plants, and even some cash. We were grateful for all of it and used the money to pick the most beautiful baby headstone we could find.
The burning bush given to my parents, however, was the gift that became our focus. It was a living thing to gather around, to plant, to care for, to watch grow, and any other number of metaphors you could easily put in the same sentence when refering to your baby. Now, understand I am not a real "flower" person. In fact, my mother finally stopped giving me plants for gifts because withing weeks, they were withering. But, this burning bush was something different for me. It represented so many esoteric feelings and tangible moments for me. It was my first earthly link to Emma.
The first bush was planted at my parents house. J. and I didn't own a house yet and that was the home I had lived in for the entirity of my childhood. On a breezy day in mid Sept, 2000 Grandma, Grandpa, Nana, Papa, J. and I gathered to plant Emma's burning bush. In a grand ceremony kind of way, that none of us really though about..but just unfolded, we each took a turn digging into the ground, tossing in some fertalizer, then - when the bush was settled, the rotation began again for placing the dirt back into the earth and watering. After, we shared a family meal and attempted to enjoy each other's company.
In order to really understand the magnitude of this easy, holiday like scene, it is key to know our families' dynamics. (these are just the facts now...no judgement here!) I am the product of two city raised post graduates who moved to the country, but couldn't really be called "country folk". After a few years their only child was born, and although not overly spoiled, was definately doted upon with a strong focus.
J. is the oldest son in a farming family. Chores, responsibities, farm odors, hard long hours, and a weekly majority of meat & potatoes was the lifestyle from his early days. We make a great pair, but our parents, and rightfully so, sometimes struggle to see the world through the other's eyes. There are often questioning eyebrows or befuddled faces when the topics of slaughtering or seminars are brought up.
So now you see how unique our experience that day was, sitting around the table, discussing (to be honest I don't even remember what) but it was a calm, easy, low-tide discussion. There were no raised eyebrows or befuddled expressions. Emma was with us. She was our reason for gathering. She performed one of her countless miracles that day and harmoniously brought together the families of a Romeo and Juliet like relationship.
There are currently three burning bushes planted for Emma Grace. J. and I bought a house about a year after her passing, and my parents gave us one for the front yard. I was so touched by the stone work my husband did, creating an "endless circle" of flat stones around the bush to keep her safe and show our neverending love. Two years ago, my parents moved to a new house and didn't want to run the risk of transplanting the original bush, so they erected another. What a masterful show for a tiny soul. Well done Emma.
Every year on her birthday I take a picture of our bush, I measure it and record its height like you would with your child, and I cry tears of joy, appreciation, sadness, meloncholy, and inspiration as every leaf turns flaming red in the fall as if to say, "I am here. I know this when you focus on me the most and when your hurt the most. So, see my red leaves and know - I am here, mommy".
This year, the most amazing thing happened. Two weeks ago, on Bear's first day of Kindergarten, as we walked by the bush and I turned, like I always do, to say hello, I noticed a flash of color. "No Way!" I told myself. "Fall isn't here yet and the weather had been unseasonably warm. Your bush can't be turning yet!" But as I walked closer, silent tears slid down my cheeks. One, single, solitary leaf was red.
"Mommy" Bear yelled "Let's go to Kindergarten" as The Comedian was pulling on my pant leg. I wiped my tears away and called them over to the bush. "Look" I said, "Just one leaf is red on your sister's bush". Then Bear, in her 'matter-of-fact', all-knowing, odd topics don't bother her, kind of voice said, "Yeah. Emma came to wish me good luck". Of course she did, I thought. Of course.
Bear's world-colliding abilities are a post for another day, but I will tell you that the leaf is no longer red. It has gone back to green, like it's hundreds of brothers and sisters. They will all turn red, soon, but she was here for just a day, just like Bear said.
God bless each and every one of you hurting, grieving mothers who are looking for your miracles. Keep an open mind and a wide-open heart and your baby will find you.
A similar soul,