(This was written several days ago)
I wonder what my daughters will say about their family when they are grown.
“I have a sister. I also had a brother. He died when I was little. My mom and dad never got over it. I don’t remember him very well.”
I see myself as they will inevitably see me, as all children see their parents – through the eyes of innocent narcissism. Our poor, broken mother. But she still has us – they will think.
They will not understand the sorrow of a completely broken heart – not until they one day have children of their own. When they do, when they feel that first spark of love that will go to any lengths to protect, it will wrench at their hearts in a new and awful way. They will look at their children and understand why I was never healed, why the scar is still so dark and terrible.
Today was hard. I decided that I needed a day of rest – to not go anywhere or do anything terribly taxing. I had no appointments, nothing that had to be done. So I stayed at home. And of course, my desire for a more minimalist lifestyle took over, and I started decluttering my bedroom.
In the course of this, I was faced with all of the things in my bedroom that belonged to James. His dresser. His clothes. His dirty laundry basket. In my head, I felt like I could handle these things. I started with his dirty clothes basket. Lying on top was all of the clothing that I sorted for a baby blanket to be made by a friend. As I gently folded the clothes, my hands started to shake. My heart beat faster. I felt a stealthy anxiety slithering into my core.
I continued on, touching each piece gently, remembering when he wore those sweet little clothes – clothes covered with cars and planes and bears and dinosaurs. Clothes that he will never need again. Clothes that still bore the stains from his medications or spit-up.
I thought that I could do it. Why not? He isn’t coming back. I’m not mentally unstable. I understand that my son is dead. He doesn’t need these clothes. And yet, putting his things away, for some reason, it was so terribly hard. As if I was removing the traces of him from our home, from his home.
Tonight, my eldest sleeps in bed with me. I drifted off for a “nap” with her at 8:15 and woke up at 9:30pm. When I awoke, my very first thought was “my son is dead. My son died. That thing that I was so desperately afraid of since I became a mother…it happened to me.” It struck me at the center of my being that James is gone. I can’t go where he has gone. My heart breaks anew today -that organ barely held together by the love for my daughters – spilling out my heartsblood yet again.
Those nights, I can remember them in a second. Closing my eyes, I see your little bed next to ours. You were never in it – you were always nestled up with mommy. I hear the persistent beeping of the feeding pump, the steady whooshing of the ventilator. Did those fragmented, anxiety-laden nights really happen? Your delicate face outlined by the dim light from the closet, your clenched hand curled against your cheek? Were you really here with me? How did 5 months pass so quickly?
I miss you James. I long to reach out a hand and stroke your baby soft hair, to see your wide, blue, endless, old-soul eyes gazing back at me. I know that can never be, so I am left here, reaching out to touch a baby that isn’t there.