I don’t visit much anymore, but I dropped in to read Glow In The Woods a few nights ago and there it was, a punch in the gut. “I’m too busy raising my son to acknowledge how sad it makes me to see him alone in the yard.”
It immediately brought tears to my eyes and, again, as I go to link to it. Every time I read it, because there it is, my life, right now, summarized in a single sentence. How did you know? It’s both comforting and disconcerting how much this experience is mirrored, over and over and over again, by other peoples’ losses.
People say, I think about my dead baby every day, but if I’m being honest? I don’t. When you decide to have a child, that’s the commitment you’re making – every day, for the rest of your life, there will be this other person you’ll be thinking of before yourself. But dead children are different – they don’t need much, and they’ve got all the time in the world for you to get around to them. You don’t have to think of a dead baby every day, the way you would if she’d been a living baby. There are no midnight feedings or tantrums or afternoon snuggles or trips to the park, it’s just ashes and photographs tucked away in a box and she’s got all the time in the world.
No, I don’t think about Amy every single day, not with intention or purpose or consciousness, though I think of her often. And that’s probably as it should be – life has gone on, and it’s a happy life, and we are forever changed and she is forever missed but we are, I guess, content.
Minds are rude things, though. I’m glad no one can hear what actually goes on in there, my macabre dead baby retorts. They’re not even retorts, they’re just, I don’t know, corrections? “Oh, I bet he’d love to have a sibling.” He does. “Boys are so great, can you even imagine having a girl?” I had one, so, yes, and I imagine it would be wonderful to get to keep her. Or, my favorite, the inevitable mom introductory conversation in which it is revealed that the other mom’s child, a little girl of course, is within a month of the age Amy should be, if Amy were alive. Oh, she’s the same age my dead daughter would be.
And watching him, interacting with other kids, realizing that little girl, the one a whole year older than him who’s playing with him so sweetly, that could be our life, but it’s not. He’ll be raised as the oldest. People will tell him what a great big brother he is, and tell me how great it is to have boys or a boy first or an only, and I will do my damnedest to keep my thoughts to myself.
A week ago, we passed her due date for the third time without her. It’s gotten so much easier, less acute. A dull ache I’ve grown accustomed to. A day no one but me remembers, anymore. I asked Dan if he ever thought about it, and he said a lot, all the time. If there was a particular part. Because for me, the thing my mind flashes to every time is the moment on the day when I was in labor, and I asked him if the baby was going to die, and, in the kindest way possible, he said that she was. And he said, he thinks about that too. It made me feel better, a little, though I can’t say why.
It’s easier, but, I don’t know, it’s still awful. I guess we’ve just learned to live with it.