It’s been a little bit since I’ve written to you. I think and talk about you constantly. I’ve actually been wondering about something lately. I talk to a lot of people at work and am obviously pregnant now. I don’t know most of the people I speak with, so they don’t know our story. But being pregnant seems to be a conversation starter for most people. They often start a conversation by asking which number this baby is. So I tell the truth. I say,”This is our fourth.” Then, they proceed to ask more questions, making polite conversation, I’m certain. “Four? What do you have?” Again, I answer honestly, “We have two girls and a boy. This one is another girl.” Hoping the conversation isn’t about to get awkward, the next question inevitably follows, “wow! How old are they?”
Here it is, just like that old Robert Frost poem, you know, the one where two roads diverge and the person has to choose which one to go down. Well, your dad and I are on the road less travelled, and if I’m being honest, which I feel very strongly about, I have to continue down that path. After all, they asked the question, right? Who am I to decide they’re too fragile to hear about infant loss? I don’t know their stories either.
So I reply,”My oldest is 4, our second is 2, and our third would be 1.”
I wish I could video people’s reactions. It’s almost as if I can hear the record scratching, brakes on rubber screeching sound that I’m sure plays in their heads, out loud.
“He would be?” And so out comes the story. I tell different versions. Some longer, some shorter, some more gentle and sugar coated than others. In the end, I always have to make the awkward transition back to the reason these people and I are meeting.
If you’re anything like your big sisters, you’re probably hoping I will get to my original point sometime soon. You’re right. So what have I been wondering? I’ve been wondering if it will ever be less awkward to bring you up to strangers. Will I always feel a little guilty for reminding people how fragile life is? Will I always feel a little bit bad when I steal a little bit of a stranger’s innocence by being that one person that they know who actually lost a child to SIDS?
The more I think about it, the more I realize that, yes, it will always be awkward. Not awkward for me, because I had to come to grips with your death a long time ago. I can talk about you all day and night.
But to strangers, it is awkward. I’m a living version of their worst fear. They look at me in awe and wonderment like an animal on display at the zoo. They usually look at me apologetically and say something like “How can you live on?”, or “oh my God, I would actually die if that happened to me”, or ” you are so strong”, etc.
Let’s face it, that makes for a really awkward first meeting.
Nevertheless, I won’t act like you didn’t exist. I don’t think people would want me to do that anyway. You were one amazing little baby boy and I miss you.
Love you forever,