Musings on losing
Ok, so I’m sitting here at my desk completely effing bored out of my skull. I wanted a new job. I got one. I hate it.
But it pays me a significantly higher salary than my old one, so I suffer through. Besides, I have an interview for an entirely different (and theoretically better) job tomorrow at 8 am.
But that’s not why I’m writing today. I’m writing because today I hurt. I hurt almost as bad as I hurt when I lost him. His picture is on my desk. It’s freaking adorable. He has the sweetest half a smile on his face and he looks so alert and he’s only, like 1 day old or something. His hand, while swathed in tape holding the no-no and the iv in his arm, is up to the side of his face. He did that when he felt good. Several of his ultrasound pictures show him with his hand up to his face. This is the picture:
You know, I don’t even know where those ultrasound pictures are. The whole ultrasound process was pretty traumatic. “Your baby has something wrong with his heart, but we don’t know what it is.”
Anyway, back to the picture. It’s fuzzy, because it was taken on a cell phone, but it’s like soft-focus fuzzy. A good fuzzy. A warm fuzzy, even. My husband and 2 living sons gave it to me in a frame for Mother’s Day, or my birthday. I don’t remember which. (Days melt into each other, now.) Anyway the frame is a matte black and has a plate that reads–in a lower-case, condensed serif font (maybe it’s Georgia)—
Now, somedays I think to myself, “What miracle? He died.” But I know that he was a miracle, because he made it through delivery. Because he almost died the day he had surgery and made it. Because he almost died a day or so after that and made it. Because he lived through countless chest and peritoneal discharge catheters and made it. Because he made it through two cardiac catheterizations that lasted several hours and made it. Because he had a thoracic duct ligation, where they cut a 3-inch incision in his back and made it. Because they put him on a drug that gave him seizures and made it. He was a miracle because he was mine and everybody else’s. He was a miracle because people literally fell in love with him from the time they met him—unlike any other baby I’d ever encountered.
But I digress. I think I’ve adequately, if not overly, described the picture of him that sits on my desk. (Send me an email if you think I’ve failed you in any way on this front.) Anyway, this picture, this simple reminder of him not unlike the pictures of my older boys or my husband or me and Alex Trebek, this picture on some days makes me smile, warms my heart, gets me all gushy, thinking about holding him and stroking his head and happy days like Extubation Day. On other days, like today, it gives me flashbacks to his visitation and funeral: seeing him in his casket, picking out the sleeper that he was laid out in, holding his cold little body one last time before we really let him go, and practically collapsing as they loaded his cloth-covered cardboard casket into the hearse.
That was today. Then I started crying. I totally hate crying at work. It’s embarrassing, frustrating and atherapeutic to try to muffle myself in the stall in the ladies’, and resist every urge I have to run outside, get in my car and leave.
Which I think brings me to my point, and an issue that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. Why can’t we just be real about our grief in this country? Why does losing a baby, whether through miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death have to be such a freaking secret? You have no idea how many people have revealed that secret to me, in emails and phone calls and whispers. And I am NOT admonishing them for it. Not in the least. We’re conditioned. And I understand it. I have a great deal of shame as a result of Colin dying. As a parent, making sure they make it from one day to the next is, like, Job #1. And this time, I couldn’t do it. I failed. Epic fail. Epic-est of epic fails. In our situation in particular, it was kind of hard to not be public about our situation. People knew Colin was in the hospital. They knew he was sick. They knew about his ups and downs and our ups and downs. So to not tell people would really be impossible. But guess what? I’m actually the mother of four. In July 2007 I had a miscarriage at 8 weeks. That sucked, too. I had just gotten over an illness ( in my left leg in January) and it honestly wasn’t a good time for me to even be pregnant. I guess my body figured that out and ran its course.
The sucky fact of the matter is that babies die every day—6 out of a 1000 in 2009 in the US. Whether it is miscarriages, stillbirths, respiratory illnesses, CHDs (11 CHD babies die every day), malnutrition, accidents and due to no apparent reason at all!
And no, It’s not ok. That’s not what I’m trying to say. It’s so not ok that babies and children die. Ever. For any reason. But they do, and I think we can all learn better how to deal with the aftermath, for ourselves, our families and our friends. I am finding that I am terrible at this grieving thing. I’ve had lots of people die when they’re “supposed” to—or even if they weren’t supposed to, they were of the age when you would expect someone to die. Most of the younger people that I have personally known have died, I found out after the fact, and had lost touch prior to their deaths. So there was no funeral to attend and no real grief, just sort of shock and maybe a few tears shed. But for my baby to die, especially after I was so certain that everything was going to be ok, that was transmutational. I really am not the same person I was before this happened.
xoxo Colin. Love, your mama
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