Right after Gabe was born, at my midwife’s suggestion, I wrote down everything I remembered about his birth. I suppose you could call it a birth story, but I won’t send it into a birth magazine any time soon. When my computer was stolen, the word file that contained it was stolen too. I hadn’t read it in months, and now, truth be told, I haven’t read it in almost 2 years. The truth its, I’m sure there are things that I forget already. I’m sure that there are events that have blended into each other, things that were once discreet and are no longer. I was, not sad to lose the file, but shocked. I wish I still had it, that I had emailed it to myself, thought to make copies.
I was never devastated, perhaps a bit melancholy, but not devastated that I lost the file. It was such raw emotion, that even for myself, it was hard to go back to. It was hard to read. I imagine that to go back now and read it would be like plunging a knife into my own chest. I am, forever, the mother of a dead child, but over time, it hurts less. Acute pain fades into sorrow, which fades into melancholy, and that has turned into a wistful sort of regret. The regret is not the end of the world, sometimes it is more present, I am more aware, but often while Gabe’s memory stays with me, the pain recedes into the back of my mind. I am always missing someone who isn’t present, even as I am fully present. I am in a moment that does not, cannot, could not include Gabe.
Mel had a question in her Friday blog round up – about the Hogworts pictures that move and talk, she asked who we would like to see. My immediate answer was Gabe, and yet, as I sat in the room that was to be his nursery and is now my office, painted in the colours I picked for him, I cannot see him there.
Gabriel’s photo, in a Hogwarts picture would be only a very small part of our loss. Such photo’s do not age, they do not change, they do not grow. They may interact, but they are still so very limited in their scope. Gabriel would always be the tiny baby, his feet no larger than my fingers. So impossibly small, and so tied up in his terrible death. The grief of his death was immediate, but not completely proximate. There is loss that your memories of your baby can never change, expand or grow. It occurs to me, my arms were so very terribly empty when he was first gone. They ached to hold him, not just any baby, but our baby. And now, I can see him in my mind’s eye, I can tell you, vividly what I think he would look like, how I think he would be. Just shy of his second birthday, I can close my eyes, and he is right there, just beyond my finger tips.
I could not have fathomed it, in those early days of bottomless grief. I could not have fathomed that not only would I touch solid ground at the bottom, but that I would find sunlight above again. I could not have fathomed that I would sit at my desk in a room that should have held a crib, that should now hold trucks and blocks, lean back in my chair and talk on a conference call – and that this would be good. I would not have fathomed the way the sun shone in the window, and the sound of the children playing across the street. I would not have fathomed this happiness.
Having all of this, I do not think I want hollow images of a baby too small to live in this world. I do not think this would satisfy me. I do not want to hold him here, limiting the size of my heart to its memory. I do not want to hold him as a micropreemie, and theology be dammed, but I will chose to think of him, growing outside of my view, out of my sight, but under the same sun, only in place that I cannot see.
I will believe that there are childlike shouts and trucks and blocks, ring around the rosy and grassy places to run. I will believe that there are dogs to chase and songs to sing. I will hold on to belief that the sun warming my feet on Friday warms his head, and we are both under the same sky, the watchful gaze of the same God, and that some day, I will be grown enough to join him, and he enough to know me.
And my dreams are full of those pictures, and I will sacrifice the moving, breathing photo of a tiny baby who could not stay, for the belief that he is growing, differently, somewhere else.