I just read a post over at Moments of Pause, about missing children, shadows, photos notable for an absence known and seen by a very few.
Fuzzy, indistinct outlines of what might have been. I have wanted a shadow to appear in my family photographs since Ben died, to represent who should be there. An outline of what's missing, for all the world to know.
That's not how it works, is it? The whole world doesn't want to know what we have lost, and I can't say I blame them. I understand. I wouldn't have wanted to know either, if I hadn't lost a child of my own. And some days, even now, I don't want to know of other people's pain, because my heart is full from so many stories, so many losses, so much grief at what I almost had.
It feels, some days, that I have already had a lifetime to get used to being without Ben, though it is closing in on six years. Six years is forever, and no time at all. I think of my friend, the one I told you about in my last post, in her second month without her boy, only beginning to learn what life means now without him. Her daughter is in kindergarten, and the last time we met she told me how, since meeting me, she thinks of Ben every day when she drops her daughter off at school, sends her into the very same classroom where I expect Ben would have started his elementary school education. Knowing that, if things had gone differently, Ben would be playing with her child. She thinks of him while her daughter plays on the playground after school, thinks of the two of them running around together. She thinks of the shadow in my life, knowing she has only begun a lifetime of remembering her own.
She's given me a gift, I think, by remembering what is lost. Seeing the outline, the shadow, of what will never be.