Wednesday, May 7, 2014

How to reconcile

Zachary would have been four months old today.  He would have been outside with me, taking in the sights and sounds and smells of spring, melting my heart with the wonder in his eyes or with milk-drunk baby sleep.  C.T. would have run out from school, giddy with anticipation to see and kiss his brother, before walking home with us for lunch.  By now a proficient mother of an infant and a six-year old, I would have nursed Zachary while reading books with C.T., would have found a way to meet both of their needs at once, throughout the day.  Neighbors and kids might have been out, riding bikes, collecting rocks, stopping by to peek at how much Zachary has grown and changed.  Exhausted and high on spring fever, B and I might have abandoned plans to cook dinner and opted to take the family out to eat.  Yes, there are four of us.  Yes, we'll need a place for his carrier.  Thank you.   

I still cannot wrap my head around what has happened.  To Zachary and to our family.   I cannot reconcile what should have been, would have been, with what is.  They run in parallel, battling each other to co-exist in my brain.  How did my perfect premature Zachary go from excellent prognosis, to dead, all within two weeks?  How is it that we lived an entire other lifetime in those 14 days, in the month of January, and now we are supposed to resume life as it was, without Zachary?  How the hell did he acquire E coli?     

While I struggle to believe and absorb what has happened to Zachary and us, somehow I still need to attempt to live in the here and now.  I need to be C.T.'s mom, or some minimally adequate version of her.  He needs me to be present, encouraging, reassuring, even playful.  Sometimes, I manage to do this for C.T. - to compartmentalize my grief, the heaviness and the battles raging in my head and heart.  Other times, I can hardly bring myself to try. 


Today, with anxious eyes, C.T. asks me in his most authentically innocent six-year old voice...   
Could I die from bronchitis or walking pneumonia?

I crouch down to his level, allowing him to sit on my knee.  I explain how incredibly unlikely it would be for a child his age to die from ailments such as these.  We talk more about Zachary's illness.  I reinforce how his prematurity put him at risk, albeit low risk, for some really scary stuff, that ultimately took his life.  I reassure C.T. that the illness that has caused him to miss school for a few days (after a pediatrician visit, it's been diagnosed a sinus infection) is one from which he will easily recover.  And I believe what I hear myself saying.

But, I'm not telling the whole truth, and C.T. has been through enough to sense it.  The highly unlikely, the unthinkable - the worst - has happened to our family.  Nothing can be taken for granted.  No sure-things or falling on the right side of statistics can be fully trusted.  C.T. is going through his own process of reconciling what he is told with what he has experienced.  I hate it for him.    

1 comment:

  1. Just a few words to tell you how much I relate to this feeling of leading a life parallel to what should have been. It seems even more intense around significant dates.
    My thoughts go out to you and your sons this morning.