It is interesting. Most people don’t even think about it but when you first meet someone and he or she says they are married, it seems like one of the very first questions anyone asks is, “Do you have any kids?” I was just sitting here this evening and it struck me on a funny chord. No not “funny ha ha” but “funny ironic.” I think it is our natural curiosity that wants to know just a little bit more about the person you have just met. It is the last thing on anyone’s mind when they ask this question that yes the person might have kids but he or she may have lost a child, or in really rare, unbelievable instances he or she may have lost more than one child.
It seems like invariably that when I tell someone I am married, and especially for how long (16 years), the next natural question that seems to be asked is, “Do you have any kids?” I always say I did. Some people don’t catch on to the whole word “did.” Some people do but I think they choose to ignore it or you can see the look on their face change as they do not know what to say next. And then some people say, “I am so sorry.” No one is truly ever prepared to run into someone who has lost a child, even if you have lost one yourself. It seems like the natural course of life is thrown out of whack as a child is supposed to always out live his or her parents, especially if it is a young child.
Once someone finds out you don’t have a child then his or her curiosity seems to get the better of him or her and their next question almost always is, “What happened?” or “May I ask what happened?” You as the parent understand their curiosity but for him or her it is a double edged sword. No, it is not that you really mind tell the story of what happened. In a way, it is just a story. The hard part about this in particular story is when he or she has to tell it, it is like he or she is reliving it all over again.
I know this from firsthand experience. To be honest, I never mind when someone asks me what happened. In a way, it has helped me with my grieving process. My husband cannot stand to talk about it at all. He grieves in a completely different way.
So when I am asked I always tell some form of the story depending on how I am feeling at the time and if I am up to telling the whole thing. There are times I simply say something like this, “She somehow contracted E-coli. This in particular E-coli caused complete kidney failure, then stroke, a cerebral hemorrhage and cardiac arrest. We eventually made the hardest decision of our lives by taking her off life support on July 16, 2008.” I guess you could say that version is very sweet and to the point. Sometimes I will get a little more detailed than that. Then there are times that, depending on who I am talking to and how comfortable I feel with my first impression of him or her, I will go through the whole story, day by day, telling him or her what happened to our beloved baby girl. It is very rare in these cases that I don’t end up crying by the time I am done.
The other versions I am able to just say and step back from my emotions. I guess the best way to describe it is like I step outside of my body and am looking from the outside in so that I can keep my emotions at bay. That last version is almost impossible to tell without having my emotions right there on my sleeve. I guess I would not be human if I somehow did not feel something when telling that story.
When I am done telling the story I can also tell him or her about Mari and how she was when she was alive. The most important thing I can do as her mommy is to tell people about her so her memory stays alive for years to come.
I love you baby girl and Mommy misses you very much.