Every year, 26,000 babies are stillborn in America. In 2003, one of them was my son.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

No Answers

Emily Dickinson wrote in one of her poems something along the lines of "Because I could not stop for death, it kindly stopped for me" and I think of those words while I also think of the poem I put up in my last post. The inequity of death, the inevitability of it, the fact that because I have given my children life I've also given them death, just as my mother did for me, and her mother before her. I've given birth to death quite literally, with the birth of Ben, as have many of you who read this blog. I am still trying to fathom it, four years on: giving birth to one already dead. Or delivering one already dead - a semantic difference I hate, for officially it isn't birth when your child has died in utero - and there are no birth certificates, no apt words to describe what it is a mother does when she has to bring forth her dead child into the world.

And I wonder what happens when we die; where do our souls go, if there is any such thing at all? Some days I believe in god and heaven, some days I don't. Some days I think that there is nothing out there and it terrifies me, then other days I think, no, that can't be so. Where is Ben now? And I don't know, other than in my heart. But is that all we get? That he lives on in my heart, and I will never get to know him in any other kind of lifetime? Perhaps it is.

I think as well that the universe owes me the safety and comfort of knowing my two living children will live on to ripe old ages, outlast me by years, but no one is given even that, no matter how much we may beg the gods that be. I remember, months after Ben died, kneeling by the side of my daughter's bed, sobbing, snot running down my face, pleading with god to not let anything happen to her, to keep her safe. Like the mother in the poem I think of all the things that could happen, but I know I need to let my children go - and let go, and let go. All my life, I will need to let them go.


niobe said...

What a heartbreaking, beautifully written post.

Monica H said...

Sometimes I want death. Not to really die, but to escape this lonely world I live in. I don't know or understand why death chooses the ones it does- some earlier than others, some very tragic, some very abrupt others drawn out. It's a mysterious thing and like this title suggests, there are no answers.

I can't tell you where Ben is, but I can believe he is somewhere special. And because you honor him the way you do, he is not just in your heart, but in mine as well. I wish there was something more I could say...