Here I am. One year from the worst day of my life. One year from the moment that I heard that the test confirmed trisomy 18. One year. One year. One year. It’s like that game you play in your head – if you repeat something enough times – it becomes non-sensical. What does one year mean? What does time mean?
Where am I now? Where are we now?
James is gone. He’s been gone for almost six months. I can’t wrap my head around that sometimes. It’s as if, somewhere in my mind, I believe that he’s still here. He’s just around the corner, and one day, I’ll walk around that corner, and he’ll be there, waiting for me. His bright blue eyes will light up, and he’ll make his baby noises, and I’ll pick him up and hug him tightly. I’ll snuggle him on my chest, and I’ll sing him one of our favorite songs. We’ll sit on the couch, and it will be and my sweet James, just like old times.
But he’s gone. It’s not to be.
In the past year, I’ve had a renaissance of spirit. I am not who I was one year ago. I am kinder, I think. I try to be, at least. I try to help others. I try to do things that make the people I love smile more. I try to criticize less. The old me is still there. The old habits, the old ways. She comes out sometimes, but I stuff her back down.
My creativity is over-flowing. I can’t find enough outlets for the things that I want to say and do. I’ve quit my job. I am writing a novel. I’m in a bimonthly writer’s workshop. I want to start a business. I have a radio show and a new community at the radio station. I’ve done The Moth.
I am two women. These two women war within me. Who am I now – with one of my children gone? When your child dies, you feel as you’ve failed the most important test of motherhood. I’m a mother. I’m supposed to protect my children. I’m not suppose to let anything happen to them. And yet, I let my son die. I held him when he died. We actually made a choice to let him die. I failed. I failed even before that, when my body made him broken.
For the past six years, I’ve subsumed my life to mothering – I’ve read about baby led weaning, discipline, homeschooling, un-schooling, the rise of diabetes and obesity, correct carseat installation, secondary drowning, child-proofing… I haven’t been writing. I haven’t given voice to this other woman inside of me.
And now she is here, at the surface, demanding to be seen. She demands that I write. She demands that I do better, that I be better, that I am better, and when I’m not better that I recognize it. She demands that I stand up and tell our story loudly. She demands that everyone know James’s name – that he was here and that he was beautiful. She demands, demands, demands.
She exists cheek-to-cheek with that other woman – the mother. They are like two sides of the same coin. I sometimes wonder if they can coexist together, or if one must consume the other?
This is where I am a year later. Burning with creativity, burning with a need to share James with the world. Burning with a need to be seen. Burning with grief.
I burn. I sometimes wonder if the flames will consume me.
It’s been one year. In one year, I have heard the worst news that a mother can hear, I’ve birthed my sweet baby, I’ve held him, and I’ve let him go.