No. I haven't lost a child. Not my child. Not my bright, shining life. But I feel the ache of it--right down to my soul. I know the emptiness of perfect potential gone limp in your arms and I have witnessed too closely a mother gripping the side of a casket so tightly that seperation seems impossible.
I don't know how to tell this story. I have lived with it for so much of my life that it has existed longer than the majority of my days and will continue to consume more with each year that passes. It is never really absent, although it is patient--and waits quietly to come forward. To put pen to paper--to give life to this memory--is to admit the fear, the heartbreak, the tears, the love, the guilt, and the unending despair and responsibility of losing something more than precious. Losing it while entrusted to keep it safe for another.
It's incredible in life--so many things that we carry with us--things we learn to "live with" but never "get over." There are moments too terrible and sacred to ever be left behind.
This is not a story of pity--of lost hope. I will not allow it to become that. It is just a story: naked and exposed, offering only what it is without asking for forgiveness or understanding. Without a right to either. But with a voice that longs to be heard.
Two weeks before my 17th birthday, the beautiful three-month-old boy I was caring for died in his sleep. He would be 18 years old today--maybe in college, maybe working while he takes a year off--but maybe is all there is. I have never visited his grave but I carry him with me every day. Him, along with his mother, his father, and his two sisters who were there that night. And I can't even begin to imagine what they are carrying with them, because it is too painful and I am too terrified of their truth.
I am amazed at the capacity for grief that we own as human beings. How raw a wound can be years later. How anniversaries haunt us every year--and sometimes every day is an unfulfilled promise of what might have been.