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

Thursday, August 26, 2010

And They're Off

My baby started kindergarten this morning. He was up and dressed and had his backpack on 20 minutes early, stating, "I'm ready to go now!" We told him it wasn't time yet, and he said, "I want to go anyway!"

And I teared up all through breakfast and our short walk to school.

He's ready. And it's hard to let him go. James walked into the school door without a backward glance while all I could do was look back in time, remembering the day he was born, remembering the last five years, wondering why they went by so quickly.

He's ready. And I am not.

He saved my life, you know. James and his sister both did, after Ben died. Charlotte was my reason to get up in the morning when I wanted to stay in bed, covers pulled tight over my head, forever. Though I can't claim to have been a good parent to her in that year after her brother died, I showed up because I had to. Because she needed me. I needed her even more.

Unlike last year, when I lingered at school on the morning of the kindergartener's first day, remembering what might have been, I cried this morning in happiness and sorrow. The milestones I would have marked with Ben are becoming more nebulous now, smaller in significance. I will not know when he would have finished school, for he might have dropped out, or failed a year, or some other unfathomable thing. He may never have gone to college, or gotten married, or had children. I don't know, and I live with not knowing, having to accept it because that is all there is.

I will mark my life now with the two who lived. And it's ok. Though I can't pretend these milestones are normal, untinged with the pain of loss.

James was my second chance, my hope, my future, my joy. All through that long pregnancy filled with fear and expectation, I waited, and hoped, and feared the worst. Then he came and I can't imagine living without him.

He's ready. Ready to go off into the world, eager to learn, so excited to be big.

The past five years have been leading up to this, I know. James, and Charlotte, are both where they need to be. Exactly as it should be, exactly as I want it, except for the longing in my heart.


Catherine W said...

I hope that James enjoyed his first day at kindergarten.

My J went to nursery for the first time, also setting off without a backwards glance.

I don't know if I'll ever be ready. And I'm not sure if it because I'll always be missing one if it is because I am just made that way.

Perhaps we simply never stop longing for our lost children, longing to know them as we know their siblings?

Monica H said...

I hope you both had a good first day of school. Like you, I'll always wonder about what those days would be like for Sam and Jack, but I'll never know for sure.

c. said...

He saved my life, you know.

I get this. I feel this way, too, about R. And, there's no doubt in my mind, I needed saving. Absolutely.

How hard it must be for you to see James go off, to declare a little piece of independence from you. I can't imagine ever being ready for this.

I hope J had a wonderful first day of Kindergarten. And I hope, mostly, you got through it okay.