The donation center worker scans the pages, looking for record of my commitment.
Ah, yes. Here you are. So, you have gifts for Hugo and Emanuel? Wonderful. Are they individually labeled with the names and family numbers?
I have no problem handing over the sack of Christmas gifts on my left arm. They are for Hugo, a (now eight year old) boy we've been systematically matched with almost every year since B.W. died.
An audible groan escapes my body as I lift the bag of Emanuel's gifts up over the table. Selecting them and wrapping them for this needy child (for the first time in memory of Zachary), has been sheer torture for me. Deep down, I do not want Emanuel to have the gifts. I resent that I've "adopted" another needy child because another of my sons has died. I am bitter that Emanuel will receive the Christmas gifts I should be giving to my Zachary.
The bag of gifts leaves my hand, slips right through my fingers, just like Zachary did. On its way to making sure Emanuel is treated to new toys and books this Christmas. I shove my empty hands into my coat pockets and walk out of the donation center, numbed by the bitterness I feel.
Making donations in memory of one dead son is evidently all I am able to handle with grace.
It is still too much for me that Zachary has died. The reading on my loss barometer has been pushed beyond its limit. It is stuck on maximum, vibrates there spastically, unable to register the whole of this new level of destruction.
Was it too much to expect, to ask? That another child of mine would simply live?
Will giving in Zachary's memory ever feel anything but bitter?