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

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Right Where I Am: Seven Years, 5 Months

*I'm writing this post as suggested by Angie at still life 365.

Seven years. Five months. A lifetime. One little lifetime, to be exact, seven years and 5 months of missing a small boy who would be in first grade now, but is not. Who would be tormenting his big sister just like his little brother does, but is not. Who would be one of the great joys of my life. (Who is.)

Where am I on this journey of missing Ben? Ah. I am accepting. I am sad. I miss him with every breath that flows in and out of my lungs. The story of my life started the day he died: I don't think that's a sentiment you can understand unless you've been in these shoes. (But maybe not.) All that came before him--or much of it--was ordinary, unexceptional. And then Ben died. That is the beginning of my story.

I am better than ok. But the hole in my heart does not go away, does not fill in. It has scabbed over, there is a scar, and if you probe it too hard the hole might open again. But this is how grief is. I want Ben back with every part of my being but I have also accepted that this will not be. For if I had him back, I might have to give up James, and I could not lose him too. Yet I cannot have all three of my children, here and now, alive and well. And so there is a shadow, ever present, marking what was.

I am afraid of pregnant women; I'd prefer all pregnancies were kept secret until the baby arrives. I know all too well what there is to lose. My innocence is gone, never to return. But there is also a joy I thought was lost to me forever; it springs up like a tenacious flower after the lawnmower has passed overtop: nothing will hold it down, cut it off. It disappeared for a time but has returned, changed.

People told me losing Ben would make me stronger, make me better--but I dispute that. It changed me, certainly. I am more sorrowful, more introspective, more aware that all of us--the whole world--suffers from a broken heart, and that the pain manifests itself in different ways. Sometimes in anger, hatred, silence, or compassion.

I hate that people will still not acknowledge what we've lost, will stand in my house on the anniversary of his death and see my tears and say nothing. I more than hate it; it infuriates me, drives me to a rage beyond... reason? Or maybe just beyond. I want to say his name every day but know this will not happen; for some, silence is the only response they can manage, for reasons known only to themselves. And I try to accept that, knowing that some days I simply can't.

What I have: my living children, my life, they are good. Incomplete, but happy. I am lucky, and I know it, every day. I am so, so very lucky.

18 comments:

Ya Chun said...

Thank you, Ginny.

I understand the 'beginning of the story'. I feel so far away from 'my life before'. It is actually helping me to clean out my house, I've lost the attachments to so many objects.

sarah said...

Thank you for this. This was just what I needed to read today.

Beautiful.

still life angie said...

Thank you for sharing right where you are. I didn't know how powerful this project would be. Thank you. xo

Christine said...

thank you for sharing... very honest and I can relate...I want to scream at people who don't acknowledge...in my mind I think it would be easier if they just did..respectful. I despise silence more now than ever. Thank you again..Remembering Ben.

Hope's Mama said...

Yep, I too feel like my life is split in two. The Before Life. The After Life. Like Ya Chun, it has certainly helped with the letting go and not feeling so connected to stuff, as stuff just does not matter.
I'm also scared of pregnant women and fear for them in ways they will never fully understand.
This was a great post, and I'm so grateful for the mamas further along this path than me for shining a light for those of us behind you.
Remembering Ben.
xo

TracyOC said...

Ginny,

Sometimes I can almost feel the relief radiating off of people when I tell them that I had a daughter who died but her twin lived. Oh, thank god we don't have to talk about that dead baby now since there's a live one too. You'd think that they could let the pain in for just a couple of minutes. It's not like they have to spend the rest of their lives missing their daughters.

This post is a beautiful tribute to Ben. The people in your life who won't acknowledge him are missing out.

Nika M. said...

I have problems with pregnant women too. I want to be happy for people that are pregnant. But knowing all those horrible possibilities of things that can go wrong makes it hard to be excited. Part of me is excited for them. Part of me screams in fear of what could happen. Part of me prays that they don't end up in this unfortunate society.

Catherine W said...

The story of my life started the day he died

I think I understand. My life was also very ordinary before I decided to have children.

I wish that all pregnancies were kept a secret too. It seems to me now to be tempting fate to mention a baby before they arrive, or perhaps still even then.

But I love your description of joy as a tenacious flower, I think I feel similarly. That the joy I feel now is somehow stronger, more resilient?

I'm sorry that people will not acknowledge the loss of Ben. To be met with silence . . well, it just isn't enough is it?

I feel lucky to have found your blog and to have read about your dear Ben. It gave me hope that I would survive this and also hope that I would not stop loving my daughter or remembering her. And that these two states were not incompatible. x

afteriris said...

he story of my life started the day he died

I think that's the case for me too, with Iris. I feel like I was just marking time waiting for her. It makes me feel terribly guilty. I already had a living daughter, and a good life with lots of adventure, and yet...

It starts with her somehow.

brianna said...

Here via Angie's project. I am so glad that I am too because this is the first thing I've read that explains so much of something I have felt as well.

When my son was born I felt like it was the first day of my life. Everything before he was born and then died was nothing more than a dream.

Thank you for sharing this.

butterflymom said...

I agree with you about feeling like my life started the day I lost my baby. I'm a changed person because of her and because of what I went through. Like I always say, there are pieces of me, but overall, this is my new life. Thank you for writing and for sharing Ben with all of us.

Jordan said...

"The story of my life started the day he died."

A couple months after my youngest son died, I was lying in bed looking at a family photo of myself, my husband and our eldest son. I couldn't stop staring at myself in the picture. I knew to my core that I was different. I was changed. I am living a different life as a different person.

I am sorry people don't acknowledge your son. It isn't right.

Steve Finnell said...

you are invited to follow my blog

Fireflyforever said...

I'm here from Angie's project too.

"People told me losing Ben would make me stronger, make me better--but I dispute that. It changed me, certainly. I am more sorrowful, more introspective, more aware that all of us--the whole world--suffers from a broken heart, and that the pain manifests itself in different ways. Sometimes in anger, hatred, silence, or compassion."

This paragraph is spot on. I re-read ot several times. It has taken me time to understand this - I'm still learning but yes, I see that pain more now too.

Tess said...

I'm here through Angie's great project, albeit a little late. So much of what you write of touches and comforts me; that you are plus seven years out and still you want and need to say Ben's name out load - I am only sorry that is returned to you in silence...

Thank you for sharing your perspective here, shining a light for those of us just starting out on our journey of missing our children

namastemom said...

It changed me also. I don't think I am stronger but I do recognize my limits of strength. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

This brings tears to my eyes. Your words reflect so accurately the way I feel. Thanks for your blog

katiekoo said...

Virginia, I've found you through Angie's project.
Your line 'I am afraid of pregnant women; I'd prefer all pregnancies were kept secret until the baby arrives. I know all too well what there is to lose. My innocence is gone, never to return.' I can relate to this so much. I hate to think it, but every pregnant women has a dead baby in my mind. This was so powerful to read. Thankyou so much for sharing. I'll keep following your posts.