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

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Loneliest Number

They say one is the loneliest number, and so often in this land of grief, the solitary loneliness rears its ugly head. Over the last week, as I thought about the first day of kindergarten, I was reminded how alone I sometimes am. In bed on Wednesday night, my husband asked me what was wrong. I tried so hard not to tell him, didn't want to be upset, even though I'd just been crying in the bathroom.

"Ben would have started kindergarten tomorrow," I told him, and started to cry.

He didn't know what to say. I don't blame him for that; I understand that we are not the same. It is my job to get the children to school, to pack the lunches, sort the clothes, take them to the doctor. They are on my mind every moment of every day; no matter what I am doing, they are part of me. I don't know if it's something biological, or something that happens once we have a child, but it does seem to be common to mothers everywhere, this marking of time in relation to our children, this recognition of where they should be. It's not the same for most, probably all, of the dads I know.

And while I have friends who remember every year on the anniversary of Ben's death, there are moments, like the one I experienced this week, when what would have been a milestone in our lives is unrecognized by others. I don't blame them for that either; before Ben, I wouldn't have thought about those milestones in the life of someone else.

But I'm reminded how lonely this journey is, and I wonder if I make too much of what would have been. Do I need to let go more than I have, of Ben, of the possibilities that no longer exist? Or am I right where I should be?

I don't know. Not every day is like last Thursday, but every day I am aware of what I am missing. I don't want to forget completely, but there are times when I am tired of remembering.

4 comments:

Monica H said...

I don't think every other time you think of and miss Ben will be like last Thurday. I also don't think that you can control how those dates affect you either. Some days are certainly better than others, but as you know the days that we remember can be really difficult.

I don't know how I will be in 2 years when Sam should be going to Kindergarten. I don't know if I'll remember, but I'm quite positive that there will be days that I remember and long for him more than my husband does and that's okay. You as a mother miss your son, and that's all you're doing--missing your son.

Monique said...

I think we'll miss them forever and are always keenly aware of what should have been. We carry that with us now and that can be a heavy load.

Janet said...

You are right where you need to be. Never under estimate yourself. You had that baby with you for 9 months before anyone else knew who Ben was. i don't think as mothers we can ever let go of any of our kids, much ,less the ones that are no longer with us. Janet(mother of Tracie..Forever)

Sula Lee said...

Wow - what a beautiful post. I am in tears. My son was born in 2003 and I feel for you. My deepest fear is losing one of my children - and I think that's why we as a society don't talk about children dying very often. Know that you are not alone. I hope that writing this blog is healing for you and for the other mothers who read it. God bless you.