Post by Still Standing Contributor Megan Skaggs
Sometimes, when I share my son, I can tell the person I am sharing him with pities me. I choose, sometimes very cautiously, with whom I share him. Often I know it’s coming and I don’t want to see, once again, ‘the’ look of pity.
My child’s life and subsequent death is and was a horrific experience for me. I never imagined the types of decisions we would have to make, or that I would hear time and time again how he probably wouldn’t make it through the day. I believed with everything I had that the surgeries would one day end, and we would bring him home.
And then the day came, and he didn’t make it, and he died in my arms. And I never thought I’d have to hear the impossible things I hear or get the looks that I do.
This summer he would have been five years old. I would have loved planning a birthday party for my twins. I can only imagine what MJ would have chosen for his birthday theme. Would it be Batman like his brother wants, or would we have thrown a Batman/Superman party? I’ll never know.
Come August I won’t be buying two pairs of new school shoes. Instead, I’ll buy just one new outfit to wear to the first day of Kindergarten.
This breaks my heart, every day. Every day I think about what should have been, and every day I wonder what it would be like to raise twins.
But over the years I have learned to live with a broken heart and find the beauty in life. I look at my living children’s faces and am amazed in each and everything they do. I am looking forward to seeing my oldest off to Kindergarten, though I know it will still sting because there should have been two.
Grief and heartache have now mixed so well into my life that I no longer know a life without it. I can see the beauty and feel pain in a way that only a bereaved parent can understand.
I don’t talk about him and share his story for people to pity my circumstances in life. I talk about him and my grief for a different reason. When I share my child, it’s because I want to share my love. I never will forget him. I will never, ever stop loving him.
I am a mother of three, and when people see me, I want them to see that. Most, I would assume, see me as a mother of two, and a baby that died. His life deserves more than a comma. He is more than an afterthought. He is not a baby that died.
He is my son who lived. His name is Michael Joseph. We called him MJ.
I would imagine that, if I am lucky, he is talked about in whispers and it’s mentioned that I am still wallowing in grief. And yes- there are times, more moments now, in which the pain is still so fresh, and I feel as though I am sinking into a hole I’ll never be able to climb out of.
The pain never goes away. It’s the living with it that I have learned to do.
So while the summer is always the hardest time of the year for me, because it brings back so much about his birth in July, and death in August, I am actually what most would call ‘coping’ very well. My days consist of potty training, t-ball, hide-and-seek, and many other crazy games my 2- and 4-year-old make up. I get so much out of just hearing them giggle.
From the outside looking in, our adventures as a family are complete- husband and wife, son and daughter. We walk around the nearby lake, catch bugs in our backyard, and visit the zoo.
But he is always there for me. Every day, and every way – he is with me. I have on my wrist a tattoo that says ‘I Will Carry You.’ The ink is mixed with his ashes.
Those four words are exactly how I see my life without my son. No matter what I do or where I go, he is with me. I made a promise to him moments before he died in my arms. I promised him that not only would I never forget him, but that I would never let him be forgotten.
My husband, I wrote him a letter the day after he died. In it, we wrote that his fight to live would echo for generations. I intend to fulfill those promises to him.
And that is beautiful. No pity is needed.
Photo by Sean Kowal on Unsplash