Mon 30 Apr 2012
it was 3:20 when we all raced in from the park and scattered.
four people, six different directions. the calculus of families. physics probably says it’s impossible but i have always said pshaw! to physics.
physics wins, of course, in the end: thirty seconds after scattering the two smaller ones were back, pulling me in entirely opposite directions. physics will not allow me to split myself in two.
physics is a damn honey badger.
but i have my own secret calculus: three, not two. sometimes the invisible has its own demands. i said, i am going to the basement now. and then i disappeared. sha-zam. magic.
they followed me, both of them.
but when i pulled out my laptop, they pulled out Lego and Plasticine docile as lambs and there we sat the three of us companionable and so perhaps it was magic after all.
and i made it in time.
i saw the numbers on the clock. i blinked and there he was, small and splayed as they swept him away from me to the bright lights and the yellow gowns flooding the room. dark hair and a trail of blood and one perfect ear and then i could see nothing else, then or now. the window closed. gone again.
i typed into the Facebook status update: “3:24 pm. seven years. happy birthday, Finn.”
there really isn’t anything else to say, anymore.
we planted two new baby trees, at the new house, but that was mostly by happenstance. we went over to the old house to see the trees planted that first Mother’s Day, seven springs ago. they are thriving, strong. we bought some cupcakes on the way.
a regular day – life for the living. a cacophony. physics.
until i sat down late last night and opened Facebook again and saw the comments, the likes, the acknowledgements. the love.
for us, i suppose. but for him, too. for a child almost nobody ever met.
each time i write about Finn, i feel a bit skinless, even now.
not because he makes me sad. he never made me sad. his absence made me sad for a long time, but it does not, not anymore.
still. too effusive in my words and you might think me maudlin, unkempt and troubled by grief even after all this time.
too casual in my “liking” of your comments and you might think me crass and cheap and ridiculous.
i do not want to be maudlin, or crass.
i simply want him to be part of my story.
seven years ago today, i woke like a bruised thing.
he had been there. i had held him. and i looked ahead and i thought i might choke to death on the silence.
i knew i could not sit, seven years hence, in polite sane company and tell strangers on a park bench: i had a son. he would have been seven today. he’s dead.
in person, in our culture, you cannot do that.
but in the networks of social media, you can. thank Jeebus. some say Facebook acknowledgements take all the human connection out of sorrow and remembrance: perhaps they do, by some people’s definition. but i would say they add back in a whole other dimension of possibility. i do not need you to wail and gnash your teeth on my behalf, especially not anymore. i do not need you to hold me.
i just need a space to speak him, now and then.
Josephine is reaching an age where she is beginning to understand “dead.” Her great-grandfather died last spring, and she has come around to understanding that he isn’t coming back. She knows, vaguely, that she had another brother. Oscar has told her Finn is a star in the sky. I smile, and say maybe he is.
but the other night they were going to bed and Oscar mentioned the stars, and Finn, and suddenly, from her side of the room, a sob.
i don’t want to die, Mummy! she burst out, her voice small and cracked. even when i’m an old lady, Mummy! i don’t want to be lost!
my heart. i went to her and stroked her hair said, of course not, pet. you will never be lost, my love. you are tied to me, to Daddy, to a thousand stories. you will always be my girl.
magical thinking, perhaps. physics might object.
but i write of Finn to tie him to me, to weave him into the fabric of my life. to say, you will always be my boy.
you have given me that space. you have received him, and nodded back, and layered love and kindness where once there was only absence.
he is dead. that is what it is. it is surprisingly okay.
but he is not lost: he exists here. he has a record, like the rest of us.
and more than that, i cannot ask.
so what i wanted to write last night on Facebook was, thank you. just thank you. and yet so much more.