Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Giving up the dead

The rituals and rites of funerals and grieving are not for the Dead. Whether they are in an Afterlife or simply cease to exist, what we who are left behind do, we do for ourselves.

Why is it is hard, then to give up the Dead?

Yesterday was as bad as the day of my son's memorial mass the week he died.

Do I hold onto his memory so hard because he was a baby no one knew?

Adults and people who have lived a life and made friends and memories are etched into people's hearts and minds. What memory is there of a tiny doll-like figure in a satin-lined casket? For most people, it is a fleeting image or a sad note sent in an email.

For me, who remembers every kick and hiccup, and bought little boy clothes, it is so much more: a loss of what should have been, but though some cruel twist of fate, a toss of the dice by some heartless god, was not meant to be.

I have not yet accepted the unfairness of it. In the grand scheme of things, when so many people suffer and die every day, what is the tiny spark of one small infant?

To me, it was everything, and still has a hold on me at the most unexpected times.

At the gravesite, I saw the same small toy someone had left at his headstone last year. We'd asked family and friends if they'd left it, but they all denied it. It was a random act of love, understanding and kindness, possibly from a parent who also lost a child nobody else grew to love and cherish.

I cried again when I saw the little Transformer toy; exactly the sort of thing which he would be playing with now, had he survived the delivery. I get a shiver when I hear some mother call out to a little boy, "Nathan, come here," or if I see a little boy about his age and wonder what he would have been like.

I am afraid that if I give up the Dead, it will be as though he never existed. That hurts me more than anything - that those nine months of dreams and hopes were for nothing. Now, with our family disintegrated, I feel as though I have nothing on which to anchor myself.

Yesterday, of all days, was the day when I most needed a pair of loving arms around me, and someone whom I could comfort as well, but I tend to shrug off offers of solace, instead reaching for my movies, books, my laptop, and a pitcher of Gin and tonics to help ease me to sleep.

I am drained of tears. I wept all day yesterday- in the morning while writing my first blog, on the way to the cemetery, at his grave, on the way back from the graveyard, even in the grocery store when I went to buy limes and a sandwich.

Now, a day later, I am utterly numb.

How do I give him up and let him and me go? Should I do that? Is there a right answer?

Nobody can give me a definitive response. Again, I have to forge my way through this alone. SO how do I accomplish this? By writing; by vomiting out every emotion I possess in the hopes that I will purge myself of it all.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Harder Than I Thought it Would Be

June 18th, 2001 fell on a Monday, one day after Father's Day, just like this year.

June 18th, 2001 was the day that changed the lives of everyone in our small family.

June 18th, 2001 I went into labor with my son Nathan.

June 18th, 2001 was the day that my son died.

As I do every June 18th, I woke up at 4:30, and began reliving the events of that day which are still as fresh in my mind, heart and soul as they were 6 years ago.

For the first time since it happened, we are going off to the cemetery separately, not as a family. A sure sign that this family is irrevocably broken.

Natalie was talking about him all weekend, and now Lucy is asking me these questions that are impossible to answer to a 4 year-old. I start crying and she says, "Mommy, don't be sad." She's holding his picture and looking at him, trying to understand why we are having no birthday party for him and why he is flying in the clouds with Jesus.
It feels every bit as bad as it did 6 years ago.
By my reckoning, right now, at 7:48 it was about the time that the nurses realized that there was something wrong. I can't stop reliving it in my mind. I'm watching the clock tick by and remembering the sequence of events. I can even almost detect the sterile alcohol smell of the pristine hospital corridors.

How many more years until it gets bearable on this day?

This is the poem on the back of Nathan's mass card:

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow;
I am the diamond glints on snow

I am the sunlight on ripened grain;
I am the gentle autumn rain

When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush,
Of quiet birds' circled flight,
I am the soft star that shines at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.