Thursday, January 26, 2012

Is Toby an Angel?

I got a comment on my last entry asking me how I felt about the idea of angel babies. I started to comment and then realized I could make an entire entry out of that. So, here goes!

Many women refer to the babies that they have lost as “angel babies.” These are generally interchangeable as far as stillbirths, miscarriages, and infant loss go. On the day anniversary of the child’s death, the day is known as the “angel day.”

How do I feel about this?

To tell the truth, I am not crazy about it.

For starters, there is the theological issue. Angels were never human. Angels, like demons, were separate entities from humans and while they did (and do) exist together they’re not one of the same. An angel is an angel, not a person who became something else. The same with a demon. In mythology (and yes, I am going to kind of group the Bible into this), angels or gods were ancient creatures that were here long before humans were.

I know that in today’s world we tend to think of angels as being these pure beings with lots of goodness. we also tend to think of fairies as being cute, mischievous, and pretty little pixies. Historically, neither one was true. Angels had emotions, including anger and jealousy, and experienced human emotions as much as anyone else. They did protect people but they questioned their fates and choices. Fairies were actually kind of mean little varmints that most people were afraid of. Over time, stories change and adapt.

As a parent, I hesitate to think of my child as an angel. While I like to think of Toby being able to watch me, I don’t like the idea of him being able to protect me. That feels wrong to me. I am supposed to protect him and watch over him, not the other way around.

Plus, and this is where I disagree with a lot of Christianity, my version of the afterlife is a little skewed. Although I certainly don’t want Toby to feel any pain or suffering, there are a lot of other human emotions that I would like for him to feel. I want him to fall in love, feel scared (hey, telling ghost stories and scaring yourself is one of the perks of childhood), feel excitement, get in trouble, learn lessons, make choices that aren’t always good…While I know that a lot of people take comfort in the fact that their beliefs and faith tell them that their child is in a place where they only feel peace and happiness, that thought does not bring a lot of comfort to me. It makes me a little sad.

My idea of the afterlife is a lot different. I think that souls are ageless and that time has no meaning once we die. I believe that we go to a place, I’ll call it Summerland, that is shaped by our subconscious. for me, it might look like paintings I have liked, movies I have enjoyed, dreams I’ve had…we all create our own spaces there are shared spaces as well. we can meet with others who have passed on and connect with them. We also continue to have very real human feelings. We take on shapes that we desire, regardless of the age that we were when we died.

If we choose, we can return to earth in another form. It might be as soon as we pass on or it could be centuries later. We can also connect with those who are still on earth, although we might not always be able to control how that happens or when.

I like to think of Toby in that place. Maybe he’s living in a cabin in the mountains, occasionally fly fishing with Hemingway or jamming with Elvis. I also wonder if maybe he didn’t get reborn. Since time doesn’t matter there, even if he has come back to earth and I die ext week I’ll still see him as soon as I get there.

I figure that when I get there he might be a baby for awhile, just for me. This will let me hold him, bathe him, rock him, and love on him. When I’m ready, he will change into the form that he wants to be. It might be a teenager or maybe he’ll be an adult. Then, we can have the relationship that we never had on earth. Maybe we’ll spend a decade together and then I’ll want to come back. Or maybe he will.

But an angel? I don’t know. I guess in a sense that might be like an angel.

In the end, I think that you’re free to believe in whatever offers you comfort. If it makes you feel good to think that your baby is an angel, watching over you and protecting you and your family, then I’m not going to say you’re wrong. Maybe you’re right! Maybe I’m right.

In the words of one of my favorite Iris Dement songs:

Some say once you're gone you're gone forever, and some say you're gonna come back.
Some say you rest in the arms of the Saviour if in sinful ways you lack.
Some say that they're comin' back in a garden, bunch of carrots and little sweet peas.
I think I'll just let the mystery be.”

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