January 24, 2009
I went back and forth about how to mark this day. A lot of women I follow on-line choose to recap the horror that they endured the previous year when their child died. I know that a lot of hurt and anguish is relived during these recaps, however my hope is that some of those emotions are released from deep inside when they do re-tell their story.
But, I don't have it in me to do that.
I haven't told our horrid tale from beginning to end, and I think part of this is deliberate, part because those on this path already know the story because they have lived their own versions of it. And part because those who knew us IRL felt the anguish and disappointment of anxiously awaiting the arrival of a son, a son that belonged to all of us in a small way, and feeling the blow of not being allowed to have him.
Today instead I make it a point to talk to you God because you and I haven't talked so much lately since this happened. And even though we didn't always have the strongest of relationships, we did have an understanding and a respect that a lot of people don't have.
And someday, it is my prayer that we would get that back. Even a little.
A lot of people in DBL feel like you have forsaken them. Much like your son hanging on a cross waiting to be saved from the torturous hell of crucifixion, most of us had that moment of hope that you would make it better, swoop down and make the child start moving, heart start beating, cervix stop dilating, amniotic fluid stop gushing, blood pressure stop rising. We like your holy son had to come to grips in a single moment that there would be no miracle and for whatever reason (destiny or just shit luck) were destined to walk this horrendous path.
Was it fair? No.
Was is preordained? I am still not sure. But, my guess is no.
I go back and forth on feeling whether or not you have forsaken me. If I think real hard about it, I do sometimes feel that I was targeted unfairly to be 'chosen' to be in the DBL club. But now after a year spent with many women in DBL the very real truth is that we were all robbed, mostly because you don't really meet people who deserve to have this happen to them. In a fairy tale world, only the bad people would have the bad things happen to them, but IRL most people are decent people, leaving us all in the pool of chance and shitty odds.
But, it still doesn't hurt any less to know it wasn't personal.
I now know that I was given glimpses of what this life was like. It started when I was 11 and my 6 year-old cousin Jacob wandered into my grandparent's backyard with a small rubber ball and decided to play next to a 150 lb metal BBQ pit. No one really knows how it came to be that the small rubber ball started a chain reaction that eventually took the young life of my cousin, but what I do recall is how at the funeral I witnessed my aunt crying uncontrollable, unearthly sobs that can only come from a woman who has lost her only child. When I was alone with Peyton a year ago in that hospital room, I heard her cries echoed in my own.
At the funeral I witnessed the heavy, heavy guilt of my grandparents who were supposed to be watching Jacob, and the denouncing of you. The God they knew would not let this happen. At the hospital a year ago, I saw my father-in-law slowly lose his faith in you, the scripture he had heard since he was a young boy in Alabama slipped through his fingers like water as he watched his wife hold the lifeless body of his first and only grandchild.
When I was in college another aunt had lost a son to stillbirth and went on to get pregnant again with another son, only to deliver him in critical condition, grasping for his life in the NICU. When this happened AGAIN, her dazed husband announced to my family with unequivocal faith that this son would live, and held on steadfast to that hope for dear life until the last breath was taken by the tiny infant a few days later. Arnold's defiance that this horror could not happen to his family (AGAIN) was echoed in Peyton's voice as he assured me as we drove to the hospital a year ago, and stayed right up until the ultrasound tech put the wand on my jellied belly and uttered the word 'nothing'.
Both my aunts went on to have other children. I don't know if that was the point of recalling these memories at the time, because while sitting there on the most uncomfortable bed ever designed in that hospital room last year, ever having a family was the last thing on my mind (but everyone assumed it was). My mentor tried to comfort me on the phone a few months after Ronan died.
"You WILL have a family someday, Reese," he said.
"That's not the point," I practically whispered.
"I know.....I know...." he said softly.
This time last year, I didn't care if I ever had any children. I was just seething in pain. This time last year I told Peyton that I never wanted to be pregnant again, and I needed to know if he would stay with me if I decided I never wanted to be pregnant ever again. He didn't say "you are just feeling this way NOW," or anything to that effect. He said, with all the fiber in his being "yes, absolutely." And I knew that any doubts I had about Peyton as a spouse evaporated.
Whether or not I would want to be pregnant again was really a moot point. As Peyton has often said, it was really out of our control. As we were coming to grips with the idea of trying this again, she was already en route. A little beauty that looked like her big brother, who screamed at the top of her tiny lungs when Dr. T and Dr. C. pulled her from my womb after 36 hours of non-progressing labor.
Holding her for the first time, I knew we were supposed to be together. I knew that all that I experienced in the 9 months I carried her were worth it. What I don't know and will never know is if her being here is part of a higher plan.
Was there one?
Did I have to lose him to get her? Did I have to experience loss to appreciate my gain? Did Peyton and I have to be pushed to the brink in order to feel we should never be apart? Did I have to hold my dead son in order to be a better mother for my living daughter?
A year later and I still don't have the answers....and am ok with never knowing.
So what is the point of all of this? Why did I decide to break my silence after all of this time? Is it just ramblings of a sleep-deprived new mom encased in grief? Perhaps.
But, what I really just want to say is thanks.
For Ronan. For Radha. For letting me feel their tiny lives flutter inside of me. For letting me be their mother--even if one was for a brief 7 months. For Peyton and his unconditional and unwavering love. For giving me a path illuminated by women who are just surviving the day-to-day, for friends who stayed and friends who loved me from afar and said prayers. Thank you for the snoring of my faithful dog, my family who loved Ronan as much as the love Radha, and for the light that came to me in the hospital room last year when they took my son for the last time this time last year.
Because despite all the lingering questions, there is one thing I know for sure---when I need reassurance about my son, all I have to do is look to that light.
I miss you, sweet boy. A year feels like a heartbeat and like an eternity.