Do I say four?
Or do I draw it out, and say, “I have three girls, and had one son who passed away when he was eight months old.”
Or do I not say anything about him at all, and just answer that I have three?
Because do I really want to see the cocked head, hear the little cluck of the tongue, followed by “oh I’m so sorry, that must have been hard. My sister/daughter/friend lost a child too. I can’t even imagine how you got through that.”
I can’t imagine it either.
Sometimes it sneaks up on me, and I am surprised to realize and remember that this actually happened in my life.
I traveled this path.
I gave birth to, and eventually said goodbye to, my little boy.
I wonder what he would have been like…
Would he have played sports like his dad? Bantered with his Grandma over favorite hockey teams?
Would he have loved music as much as we do, or had some other creative bent?
Would he have been like my side of the family and lean a little more redneck? Learned to hunt with his uncle, fish with his cousin? Tinker under the hood of a truck?
What would it have been like for the girls to grow up with a brother? Who would poke and tease them at home, but stick up for them at the playground.
Would he kick their ass for even thinking about dating so-and-so, and make their lives miserable until they dumped said-date.
Would we have been close? Would our bond be any different than the ones I have with the girls?
What is it like to have a little boy?
I don’t even know. I never got to know him.
If he had lived, he would be 21 years old this month. A legal adult.
But he didn’t.
I didn’t know how to process it all. How to grieve, especially since I felt like such a failure. It was my body that failed him, after all.
So my turbulent emotions stayed at a simmering boil just beneath the surface for far too long, and caused so much damage.
I was stuck.
I was in pain.
And I didn’t know how to fix it.
Funny how having my husband walk out on me turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me.
I was forced to feel when Kevin walked out; when he told me it was over, that there was nothing we could do to fix our marriage, and he wanted a divorce.
All the pain I had kept bottled up for so long crashed its way to the surface and broke through, surging forth with a vengeance.
I cried for a year. No kidding.
And slowly began to come back to life.
We’re not doing anyone any favors by locking down our emotions. Least of all ourselves.
In order to continue to live with any meaning, we must be willing to face what hurts. Process it. Feel it. And heal.
I would have missed out on so much more with them if I had not had the opportunity to face the hurt.
Mando was 11 when I crashed, and she had already borne the brunt of my pain for 9 years. Poor kid.
But God. God is so much more amazing than I could imagine. He has brought beauty out of this pain. Out of our ashes. Produced songs from our mourning.
It still sucks that I don’t have a young man to hug and kiss on and tell him I love him and call him Joe.
But I do have his sisters. And I squeeze them and tease them and kiss them and nag them and laugh with them and love them fiercely all the more now.
Because I am no longer stuck.
I know that life has all too many unpleasant surprises. But I also know that if I field them well, safely in the hand of the Lover of my soul, I will always come out on top.
Because He says I am the head, and not the tail.
That no weapon formed against me shall prosper.
That His plans for me are good.
And He began a good work in me, and will continue to bring it to pass.
Oh. And He is a Good Good Father, despite what some may think.
Life and people can hurt. But I have experienced great healing from the God of the universe on a very personal level.
It is well with my soul. And my heart. And my mind. And even my body. It is well.