Standing In the Way

I am thankful, on days like this, that the school across from my house is closed. I am thankful I didn’t stand on my front porch at 8:30 yesterday morning and watch the children streaming into the school. I didn’t watch for the mothers dropping kids off at kindergarten and think:

That was so very nearly me. So very very – but for a hair’s breadth and a gasp – me.

I am thinking because I was asked to talk at the staff meeting about United Way and why I donate to the United Way.

And I don’t know what to say.

I phoned the organization that manages Gabe’s Foundation, and I asked how much money is in the endowment right now – today – and we will write our first cheque to the perinatal bereavement program in the Capital Region in March.

And I don’t know what to say to that room of people I work with. I support United Way because it’s an easy way to donate to the foundation I set up and this year the perinatal bereavement program will get a cheque, and this year maybe every family that loses a baby will go home with a memory box and books and photos and inked foot prints. Maybe this year there will be enough money in the budget that they won’t run out of money for baby blankets and memory boxes.

This year, oh please God, will be the year that it won’t matter if your child dies in April or in December, you will take your memories and broken hearts home with a memory box because five and a half years later I can’t send my son to kindergarten, but by God I can make sure that you get a memory box.

And I don’t thinkĀ  I can say that. I think it’s too late and too painful and too personal and too every single thing on this earth that we don’t ever want to talk about again. So I’ll talk about community and Mr. Spit and I’s commitment to the world around us, and I’ll talk about my work with street level sex trade workers, because they are more palatable to the world than my dead son, and I’ll talk about leaving this world with more than you found in it and what I want to be remembered for.

And I’ll talk about it and I’ll probably do a good enough job at it, and maybe I can scare up a few thousand dollars extra and I know that the United Way will put it to good use. And I will ask for them, because I am too proud and too private and too shy to ask for the children that aren’t here. I don’t want to tell them about my son. I don’t want them to know about the minutes I stood on my front porch yesterday morning, thinking about how he should have gone to kindergarten. Came so close really.
And I will be as I always am – the woman standing in front of you – and nothing more.

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5 Responses to Standing In the Way

  1. Mr. Spit says:

    Yes, that reality really sucks.

  2. a says:

    Well, I think you should direct people to Gabe’s foundation. You don’t have to tell your story – you can merely mention that it’s something you support wholeheartedly – but it deserves the attention.

  3. loribeth says:

    Back to school time is (still) hard. Especially on these significant years, like kindergarten. (((hugs)))

  4. Maureen says:

    I wish I had something comforting to say, but I can’t find the words.

    I think you are making your boy proud, until all of you can be together.

  5. N McInnis says:

    Tell them that we have all benefited from the advances funded by the kindness of others. Perhaps it was a father with heart disease. Or a small child born too soon. Perhaps a friend with multiple sclerosis. Or a sibling with cancer. The help we are all so desperate for in that moment was funded by the donations of others in other moments.
    Maybe your audience will give to the United Way; maybe they will give to the Lung Association. Or the Salvation Army. Or any other charity of their choosing.
    It doesn’t matter to whom we give, just that we each give.

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