I've mentioned previously that this was a rough week. Today, I am going to delve a little bit into why. This is going to be hard to write and maybe hard to read (especially if you're as sensitive as I am) but I'm going to approach it unabashedly, like I try to do with most topics.
Today is the Day of Hope, founded by Carly Marie Dudley. I accepted an invitation to acknowledge and honor this day on facebook, but I'll admit it had slipped my mind until I saw the following quote mentioned in a status:
"August 19th is a day to break down the walls of society that keep pregnancy, infant and child loss a hush hush subject. People view the death of a baby as just a sad thing that happened.These babies that die are not sad things that happen. They are people, much loved and wanted children. They are brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, grandsons and granddaughters." ~Carly Marie Dudley~
So that's exactly what we're going to do here. Talk about loss.
Let's be honest- who really WANTS to be sad? All psychological, masochistic issues aside, a healthy human being doesn't generally set out to make themselves depressed on a regular basis. Unfortunately, when you have been affected by loss, you don't always get to make that decision for yourself. The sadness is there, staring you in the face every morning when you wake up, forcing you to acknowledge it and make a decision about how you're going to handle it that minute, and hour, and day.
For those of us that haven't been as close to the loss, it's a bit easier to avoid dealing with it. It's less of a struggle to turn that part of ourselves off and simply not confront our feelings about it as often. Many people take this approach. They acknowledge the gravity and sadness of a situation and then move on. Sometimes, either voluntarily or involuntarily, they will think back and mourn for a while. There really can't be any blame in that. Again, no one really WANTS to be sad.
But making the choice to not think or talk about it doesn't make what happened go away. It doesn't erase the life that was lost, however short that life may have been.
On August 16th, 2010, Simon Maurice Rivers was born to two wonderful parents, one of whom I've been friends with for 21 years. I was pregnant with Zoey at the time. We'd arranged marriage between our children, naturally, before we were even aware of their genders. I'd bought Simon a tiny pair of booties, which were scheduled to arrive at my house any day. Simon wasn't due until October 31st. The circumstances surrounding his birth weren't favorable, but he was a little fighter. We all had high hopes. I ordered a teddy bear from the hospital gift shop with a card that said "Congratulations!". I prayed throughout that day, as I had in the uncertain days before. That night as I settled in to bed, I received a phone call from a friend visiting the family in the hospital. I can remember the phone call in extraordinary detail, telling me that Simon had passed on. He had succumbed to the listeriosis infection that had ravaged he and his mother both. I don't remember the hours after it at all. Nor the day that followed. I remember receiving the booties that week, and all I could think was "I'm so glad I didn't have these shipped to Karen. I don't know what it would have done to her to get this package now." I still have them. I never figured out what to do with them.
I found out later that same week that another friend of mine, due in December as I was, had lost her twin boys. Though we weren't as close then as we are now, the news was devastating nonetheless, especially when paired with the loss of Simon. I was reeling, and heartsick, and confused. I didn't know how to deal with it, what to say to these grieving friends of mine that could offer some solace.
One year later, it still hurts just as much. The pain is less confusing now. It has a sad familiarity about it. It has moved in and made itself at home, but unlike the memories it binds itself to, it will never be welcome. Though I never forget, I am not confronted with the reality of the situation on a daily basis the way the parents are. This abstract hurt that I feel as a bystander, to them is a much more constant and physical absense. It has changed everything in some ways, but perhaps what hurts the most are the things that should've changed, but haven't.
It is important that those of us that haven't experienced the loss of a child directly understand that those that have don't have the option of forgetting it, or not acknowledging it. To them, in place of a child, there is only 'what if's and 'what should be's. We have the ability and responsibility to make sure that we don't forget, either, and don't neglect to acknowledge these lives just because we don't want to feel the hurt.
Today, and always, I hope you can join me in remembering those who never had the opportunity to make their own memories.
All my love to Simon (8/16/2011), Bryston, Colton (8/15/2011) and Elliott (11/28/2010).