In one month (from yesterday), my eldest would be nine years old.
In the newsletter from one of the support groups I attend, his upcoming death anniversary / birthday was acknowledged, and in the age column, was assigned a [ ]. As in blank. No attained age.
It hurts. It hurts. It still hurts.
I loved him, carried and nurtured him, readied everything in our life and our future to accommodate him. Labored and birthed him, stared in awe, and in utter devastation, at the beauty of him. My gorgeous, one-of-a-kind son.
People who birth living babies are allowed to say things like...
We are so in love, over the moon, really.
He is everything to us.
We cannot imagine life without him.
We believe them. After that baby takes his/her first breath, we allow the parents their full measure of unconditional love for their child. We affirm how valuable the new little life is by showering the family with gifts and congratulations. We cry tears of joy with the new parents.
But, we, mothers and fathers of silently born sons and daughters, when we try to give voice to our unconditional love and our devastating grief, are told...
Sometimes "these things happen".
It is sad, but you can always have another.
How can you love, and grieve for, someone you barely knew?
Love for our child - diminished, denied, squashed. As if our child was just an idea, just a twinkle in our eye, not a real and loved family member.
Careless words have been uttered to me, time after time, over the last almost nine years since B.W. died, more often in the time since Zachary died. Oftentimes, someone thinks they understand, thinks they can interpret my feelings, much more than they actually do. Some people decide they must tell me their opinion. Sometimes the words seek to file away my dead children into some kind of ranked order and my grief and pain into neat and distinct categories of loss.
But, this..., Zachary's death... was different than B.W.'s.
Oh. They expected Zachary to survive? I figured there was a chance, some hope,... Well, gosh, then it is even more devastating....
How so? How so? How dare they make presumptions about my love, my grief, the worth of my children?
Losing two children is absolutely worse than losing one. Truly, it is twice as horrific. Even more so, for reasons which are unfathomable unless one is living it. But, I cannot separate Zachary's death from B.W.'s. Zachary died after I'd learned to live, reluctantly, in B.W.'s absence and with my perpetual grief for one dead child.
Would I rather go back to the scenario where B.W. was dead and Zachary was here with us? Absolutely, yes. That would mean I'd have two of my three children here with me, the way it was hoped and expected to be on earth's predefined time-space continuum, the way it actually was when Zachary was with us for those two precious weeks. It is not because I love Zachary more, or because he breathed for two weeks, or because I knew him better or because he was expected to survive. It is not because B.W.'s death impacted me less.
I still love and miss B.W. I am still his mother and he is no less my son.