This week’s essay is one I never wanted to write.
A week ago today, I learned that a family friend’s son succumbed to a more than 10 month battle with cancer. The deadliest, quietest, most deafening bomb detonated in the universe. While I personally did not know the young man, he was merely 20, the implosion resonated through my body. The sickening weight of a mama losing her baby is clearly a crime against humanity. How can that ever happen? How do any of us move past or move on?
Of course, immediately my thoughts went to my own baby. The visceral need to hold and hug my almost 19 year-old son was unbearable. I entered Aidan’s room that late afternoon and interrupted his online gaming session with friends. Sitting on the edge of his bed, I shared the devastating news, not fully understanding the possible impact of hearing that someone near his age had just died. Honestly, I still don’t know how he has processed it. How he has tucked it away or into his ever-growing repertoire of adult experiences. All I know is that he instinctively knew I needed him at that moment.
A Universal Loss:
If the loss of someone else’s baby hurts this badly, what could it possibly feel like to be the sonless mother? What happens to all those spoken and unspoken promises we expect from life? Graduations, marriages, grandbabies, holidays….the list is endless. What about the mere pleasure of watching your baby age, of participating in seeing your legacy flourish and be in the world? How do you answer the innocent question posed to you by a stranger in some not too distant future: “How many children do you have?”
There cannot be any way we heal from such a loss. The psychological damage done by a child’s death lays down new permanent tracks in our psyche. The natural order of things is disrupted, turned on its head, and there is no possible way that one gets over that.
“There is no word with the appropriate weight.”
Again, I state it’s not my personal loss. Yet, I find myself grieving. All week I’ve been walking around distracted, sad. Sad… that word doesn’t fit. It’s not heavy enough. There is no word with the appropriate weight. It doesn’t exist.
I spent the week wondering how she was able to get up that next morning, or any other morning since. How does she move from one daily task to another? Does time feel different to her now? Does she think about her son constantly? Are there moments of reprieve? Can she smile or laugh? Will she be able to ever again?
The Club I Hope To Never Join:
My ignorance is both my pain and my saving grace. I know that all my wondering, all my grieving, the moments throughout the day where my eyes well-up, will eventually fade for me. All too soon. It’s not intentional or callous, it’s just a matter of fact. I also know, while the passage of time may make my friend’s burden a little easier, it will never fade away for her … ever. I can’t understand what it is to be in her sonless club, no matter how hard I try.
My son is alive, healthy, well. I am not, nor ever want to be, part of her “club”. The dues to belong to it are more than I ever want to pay. For you existing members, my deepest sympathy.
BCB 2000 – 2021
MRH 2002 – 2021