Today is not an 'anniversary' of anything. It's been three months, two weeks and one day since we found out Innocent died. He died sometime in the preceding week, but we don't know exactly when. Part of me can't believe it's been that long. Sometimes it feels like yesterday and sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago. It's like a very narrow but infinitely deep chasm separating March 30th and March 31st.
I'll go hours without thinking about it and then something will trigger a memory. A memory of looking down at my swelling stomach. A memory of how much I disliked chocolate while I was pregnant with him. I'll look at my hand and try to remember exactly how he felt in it. How much he weighed. I remember how warm he was right after he was born, and how cold he was later when I held him next. I wish so much that I had taken twice as many pictures. That I had kissed him. That I had, silly as it may have looked, wrapped him in sequentially larger blankets until I was able to rock him.
Life does go on, but I'm realizing that there is a part of me that will never change. Raw, gaping wounds heal, but they leave visible scars. If you lose one of your fingers, the tissue will eventually heal, but the finger will never grow back. The loss of Innocent is palpable. He is intertwined with everything. Looking at a calendar to plan a retreat and there I am left staring at September 30th, his official due date. Turn the page and (sickening jolt) there's October 6th, both my birthday, and what I had hoped would be his - and the feast of St. Innocent. I will never forget, nor will I be able to separate the two.
I still haven't put his scrapbook together. I have everything in a plain file folder in the filing cabinet. Such a cold place. Maybe I'll make it a goal to have his scrapbook done by his due date.
When I talk about him to anyone, I talk about him as I would any of my children. He is my child. Should we ever have another child, that child would be number 7, not number 6. It's such a relief when I am with someone with whom I can speak freely. That is rarely the case. People don't want to hear about your dead baby. I look back and wonder if I was sensitive to that when confronted with it in the past. I hope so. I weep for the people I must have inadvertently wounded along the way. Lord have mercy.
To anyone who is new to grief, I don't know what I would say. Probably, "I'm sorry. Tell me about your child. What is his name?" I wouldn't hasten to try to "fix it" by pasting a clumsy verbal bandaid over the gaping wound. I wouldn't ignore it. I wouldn't walk away. It's hard to be with someone in their grief. If you ever have that opportunity, don't walk away. "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." [Rom. 12:5] Yes, it does get better, but that light at the end of the tunnel is mostly obscured by twists and turns. Travel with the person past those twists and turns until they can see the light for themselves.
I can see the light, but it's faint and I'm still stumbling. Now I know that light is the Kingdom of Heaven and I will continue to stumble until I've stumbled right out of this life. May God grant that when I fall the last time, I fall into his arms.
|(taken 2 1/2 months ago, Pascha)|