The kids are back at school after holidays. Inevitably parents comment either on the relief they feel when their darlings head back to school or they lament that the holidays just aren’t long enough. And nobody is happy about making school lunches.
Little comments: meaning nothing to most, a knowing laugh to some and heartache to a minority. It’s hard to explain how throw away comments can hurt a bereaved mother’s heart. How it can take hold as an aching wish. I wish that was what I had to complain about.
I remember hearing complaints of rough nights from newly minted mothers after losing Xavier. I didn’t begrudge them the complaint. I knew how hard it could be. I just wished that it was my complaint. I would be up at 3am, searching Facebook and online forums for some comfort, and there would be the mothers of little babies online, passing the time as they fed or rocked their safe little ones to sleep. And it would be so hard not to resent it, even when I understood it. And there would always be the creeping judgement. If my Xavier were still here, I would not complain.
These little comments fray away at the heart but the truth is there is more jealousy than judgement. At the end of the day, you know that your friends love their children. Comments might lead you to believe that things are taken for granted. But that is the beauty and naivety of life before loss. And the beauty of life after loss is knowing the precise, precious weight of every breath your child takes.
If throw-away comments can fray the heart, news articles about child abuse and neglect can drive a dagger through it. The complete unfairness of horrific parenting being rewarded with more children whilst loving parents have their babies ripped away. The inner judge roars with the injustice of it all. And yet I cannot tear myself away from those terrible stories. I know I am not the only bereaved mother cursed with this macabre curiosity – many of the horrific stories I read, I have been led to by other mothers missing their children. And as I read those terrible, terrible stories, the tears I cry for the little ones hurt are as much for Xavier and I as they are for the lost. If that child were to die at the hands of their parents anyway, why weren’t they taken by SIDS? If a child was to suffer torture and murder at their hands of their parents in any case, why not take them as a tiny baby? Sacrifice them to the statistics of SIDS and spare them the pain. Spare my family the pain.
As much as we like to talk about karma and what comes around goes around, the world doesn’t work like that. Losing a child is not a punishment for a crime. Keeping a child is not a reward for outstanding parenting. Some little ones suffer through out their whole childhood, against all odds they survive and some even thrive. Some little ones are given nothing but love and comfort and they cannot survive a nap. Each of us has a journey and a story. Some stories seem to be shorter than others, but they are no less powerful.
There is little fairness and at the same time I cannot complain about fairness. In the space of time I have carried and borne two children, I know those that have yet to fall pregnant. I know those that have lost a child and have been told that they will not have another. I know those that yearn desperately with their mother hearts to hold their own baby, but never will. I know that despite saying a premature goodbye to Xavier, my family and I have been incredibly blessed.
So where does it all lead to? I suppose, it’s about letting go. I accept the world is unfair but that does not mean I should be blinded to its beauty. I do not understand why some things happen, but I can stop trying to unravel the unfathomable. I can try to let go of a judging heart and remember the words of a wise prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.