On this day, four years ago, at 1:26 in the morning, my first child took his last breath.
He’d only had a little under nine hours of breaths under his belt, and his last was in his father’s arms.
There was nothing more they could do, the doctors said. Matthew could fight no longer. They told John to hold him and tell him he was loved.
As if there was ever a doubt that he’d been anything other than beyond loved and wanted.
Years of infertility and frustration and sorrow over failed procedures and adoption attempts suddenly became minor blips on the years’ radar in light of the fact that my husband told me our perfectly healthy son had died, and that he was so, so sorry.
I’m right back in that hospital room. Sitting on the bed with my neighbor and my mother-in-law holding my hands as my worst nightmare came true. Even though my body was pretty numb from all the medicine I’d had for the hasty emergency c-section I’d had hours before, I can remember exactly how hot and prickly my skin felt. How I felt like I was going to vomit and how the room started to spin and I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath.
I remember one of my sweet nurses coming in a bit later asking if she could give my legs a massage. I felt catatonic, and as I sat in the chair while she rubbed lotion on my legs, in my head, I plotted my death. Nothing gruesome—it’s not that I wanted to die.
I simply did not want to continue to live.
So the term “Black Friday” takes on a new significance for me this year. Anguished; grief-stricken; forlorn…all synonyms for black, and all descriptive terms for one who remembers the day her child died. While stores depend on this day to put money in their coffers, I think back to the day my entire world changed…how my heart learned what black really meant and how every day since has been changed forever.
Because here’s the thing…it could be November 29 or September 21 or March 6 or October 15 or April 13 or March 15 or September 15 or any.other.day.of.the.year…and I promise you, it is a dark day for some poor mother and father.
Every day of the year, babies die and parents are faced with how to live their lives without pieces of their souls. Every day of the year, some mother is forced to smile and act ‘normal’ so the rest of the world doesn’t think she needs to be committed because she should be over it by now. Every day of the year, a mother or father wakes up and still cannot believe it was not all just a bad dream. Every day of the year a parent looks at an empty seat at the table and wistfully imagines how it should have been.
Every day of the year is a black day for someone.