Thirty years ago, two women were pregnant.
One was a mere child... days from her 15th birthday. She was in the viability stage of pregnancy, but by no means full term. She carried a child created from violence and unwanted. A child she wouldn't raise. A daughter she didn't want to raise.
The other was thirty-one, happily married with a toddler, anxiously anticipating the addition of a second son to her family. She was ready to burst, both with pregnancy and joy. Epidural in hand, she birthed a sweet little boy that she immediately fell in love with.
The girl took flight and left her daughter in a clothes basket. She missed out on the broken bones of childhood, the high school musicals, the honors diplomas and college acceptance letters. She missed the wedding and the birth of that daughter's children. But she didn't miss them because she never wanted them in the first place.
That woman changed every diaper, wiped every tear, kissed every scraped knee. She held her son's hand through cancer treatment after treatment. She supported his bravery as his hospital friends died from neuroblastoma and he was the only one left. She kissed his sweet forehead as he took his last breath after a three year battle with an enemy his little body was simply not strong enough to duel with. She held his body as the last surge of breath left it. She missed his eighth birthday. She missed his graduations and the wife he may have met and the children he may have had. And she misses them still, as she misses her baby boy.
Those of us who have been dealt the hand of infertility and loss often look at others and think "They don't deserve that child.", "The are bad parents.", "Why them and not me?", "WHY DID THIS HAPPEN TO US?"
We look at parents, mothers mostly, and think of how unfair it is that she carries the child she doesnt want to term, while our babies died. We look at women who abort their children and shake our heads in disgust because we cant even get pregnant. We feel sick to our stomach when faced with "fertile myrtles" who get pregnant when looking at a man, when we need a pharmacy and/or a hospital of doctors to have a chance at conception and a delivery after viability.
But we rarely look at the children.
We don't see the unwanted daughter who was blessed with adoptive parents who taught her that her self worth had little to do with the circumstances of her conception and birth and more to do with the morals and self strength she possessed. Who gave her the confidence to never give up, no matter the obstacle.
We don't see the unwanted daughter who went from baby to girl to woman. From daughter to wife to mother.
We don't see that the son who died, though wanted and loved, was such a blessing to his family in the short life he lived. That he was an inspiration in his pain and suffering. That he was never without a smile, even when he was sick and dying.
We don't see that his being born to parents who loved and wanted him, even though their life was hard, was a gift. Because, by their love, they were the parents that he needed. And he was the child they needed.
When I talked to Peter about Robert's death, and how this scenario has played out in my head recently, he said softly, "I'm glad that Robert was born to my family. We loved him and took care of him." And he's right. Imagine a sick child in a household that didnt want a baby in the first place. Would they have struggled to make sure he received the treatment that could help him? I'd like to think yes, but I dont know...
I turned 30. Robert's 30th birthday is around the corner. I wonder what he would be like. I wonder how different life would be. Would I have met Peter? I doubt he would have gone to college so far from his brother... Perhaps our paths wouldnt have crossed... Or would have crossed later... I dont know. I wouldnt be here. He wouldnt be. Our children wouldnt be.
I believe that death is just another chapter of life. This life is one part, our death from this one becomes a life beyond. We are not gone, simply not here. Robert is still here. Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander are still here. They are with the ancestors gone before, and will be with us after we move on, into the light.
But that doesnt mitigate the grief, does it? Because it is this life that we are living. It is this life that we have to face without the ones we love. Without their hands to hold or their kisses to wet our cheeks. And that is such a hard future to face. Even knowing that there are countless joys in our futures...
I wonder who they are... The children of the pregnant woman who've broken my heart and made me turn away or shake my head...