Thursday, January 30, 2014

Real

A friend asked us what we call the day he was born. "His birthday." (Or sometimes in my mind, "His birth day.") It's a fair question. If you haven't had a baby die at the time of their birth, you can have no way of knowing what it's like. Even we have had to learn a new language. What I wanted to say was, 'If one of your kids dies, trust me, their birthday will still be their birthday. And you will mark it. Whether quietly in your heart or by baking a cake.' But you're not allowed to say that. Understandably, people don't like any allusions to the possible death of their children. I think it a lot. 'If your child dies...' But I never say it.

It has recently occurred to me that many people think that I am grieving the idea of a person rather than an actual, real person. That I am only grieving "lost hopes and dreams". He is not an idea, a hope, a dream or a ghost. He's my son, my child. The baby I carried and delivered, the child Pete witnessed me carrying and delivering. It's sickening that I would have to even assert that at all. When someone we care about dies, of course we grieve our hopes and expectations of those relationships. But we are also grieving the actual person. We miss their physical presence and their unique personality. Toren had a physical presence and a unique personality. Just because we didn't get to see them, doesn't mean he didn't. When our daughter was born, I remember her unique characteristics started to come out right away. It would have been the same with him. Even during pregnancy, we got to know things about him.

I have heard from other babyloss parents that friends and family don't think their child is a real person. I find that brutally sad. I'm not sure what the world thinks we're doing. I guess they think that maybe we're crazy or "drama queens" or perhaps attention-seeking. The worst kind of attention. At this point, three years into being his mother, I don't really care what people think of me. It doesn't matter. He's my son and that's it. I couldn't ignore that even if I thought it was a good idea.

I can take it. I can take the lack of understanding and the avoidance and the contempt. I still get angry about it, it still upsets me, but I can take it. What I can't really take is that some people are trying to delete his life, to erase any trace of his existence and say that his life had no value. That the memory of him, the spark he left with us, has no value. All because the thought of a baby dying makes them uncomfortable.

I don't know if I can keep taking that.

Dear Toren, our beloved baby, we will never forget you. It's not even a possibility. You are loved. You always were and you always will be.




1 comment:

  1. When I referred to my son's days that they were born on as their birthdays, a family member of mine said to me "is that what they call it?" as though I wasn't allowed to use that term for the days my sons were born. I didn't have a lot of strength to respond, but I did say, yes, that is what we call it, the day we are born is called our birthday. The conversation quickly shifted to the weather or something...a family member of theirs died and all of a sudden the weather is more important to talk about...yes, it is hard to take that our babies are not spoken of because a dead baby makes people uncomfortable. It is uncomfortable. But we live it everyday and we love and grieve our children, and yes, we celebrate our babies birthdays. Love to you and beautiful Toren.

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