To the friend who stopped calling,
We exchanged texts when my second son was born. You expressed your happiness for me. And then you went radio silent.
And your silence hurts.
My grief didn’t end the day Wyatt was born. Luke is still not here, and he never will be. I held him in my arms, but I will never get to see how his hair would grow out, or what color his eyes would be, never got to hear his voice, never got to do tummy time, never even got to dress him.
You listened to me in the days and weeks after Luke died. Expressed empathy when I detailed my countless anxieties. Shared advice for how to deal with the shitheads at my last job, and when I should quit.
And then I started to hear from you less and less. Perhaps I remind you of your worst fears, or maybe it’s a hard thing to keep up, providing support to someone who’s grieving, day after day, week after week. The thing is, it’s even harder to be the bereaved one. Every day that you wake up, you must confront the fact that your son is dead. There is no escaping it.
The last time I saw you, I was 28 weeks pregnant. We had our kids with us (well, you had all of your kids with you; I had only two of them), and it was hard to really talk. But I mentioned the anxiety I was experiencing over fetal movement. It was like talking into an abyss. There was no comprehension there. And in that moment I was reminded, once again, how much of a chasm now exists between myself and people who have never lost a child. Of how the relationships I had before Luke’s death are, in a sense, gone forever, irrevocably altered by the worst thing to ever happen to me.
I don’t know why I haven’t heard from you again. When you have a child after another child has died, it’s an emotionally tumultuous and confusing thing. You are grateful for your rainbow child. But you can’t help but think that he wouldn’t be there if your first son hadn’t died. Likewise, you can’t help but think that your rainbow is here only because your other child died. You feel guilty that one lived and the other didn’t, that perhaps if you had exercised the same level of care the first time around, Luke would have made it. And as your new baby boy grows and develops every day, it hits you viscerally, in a way it hasn’t up until now, what you have missed out on with Luke.
So no, my grief didn’t end the day Wyatt was born. In some ways, I need your friendship more than ever. But I guess this is time to accept the fact that we can’t go back again. We simply aren’t the same two people anymore, ever since that day, 20 long and short months ago.
I thought of you recently when speaking casually with someone about family. He said he had three children. I asked the ages and he gave me two ages and said he had a son that died at age 3. He went on to say he never really knows what to say when people ask that question as it can make some people uncomfortable, but the fact is that he does have 3 children. I agreed with him wholeheartedly! I think, at least It is my hope, that in the moment he was able to speak of his eldest child again, that heaven and earth surrounded them both in love.
People, myself included, are a funny lot. Looking an unspeakable loss and pain in the eye takes courage – a courage that not all may possess. You and Zack are courageous. Zoe is courageous. Wyatt will be courageous as well…. and heaven and earth will surround the five of you with love.
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I love this! Thank you for sharing.
I still feel great grief over Luke but did feel joy when Wyatt came into this world. You gave him Luke’s middle name so he has the spirit of Luke in him. You did not cause Luke’e death and I do not think you could have prevented it. I am so proud of you and Zack as parents and Zoe will be a great big sister. I can already tell. I will always have a fondness for Luke and have a big hole in my heart because I did not get to hold and see him. Meet him and watch him grow. Wyatt cannot replace him but I can be a good grandfather to him with Luke looking over my shoulder and in my heart. Luke’s Grandfather!