The Questions With Impossible Answers

July 18, 2017

This morning at breakfast, In between shoving heaping spoonfuls of cereal into his mouth, Evan asked me, “Mama?  Have I always lived in this house?”

“Yep,” I replied.  “And so has your sister.  Well, we moved here from our other house when I was pregnant with her.  When she was still in my belly.”

He thought that over for a second and then asked, “Well, why did we move to this house?”

There’s always a decision I have to make when I’m answering my kids. My students, too.  

One thing I feel so strongly about is that whenever you can be honest, if you can do it and still have it be developmentally appropriate, I think you should.  

So, I took a deep breath and I answered,”We moved here because the other house made me sad.”

From across the table, Avery chimed in.  “She means she was sad because of Sophie and Aiden.”

Evan looked right at me.  “Mama?  They died, right?”

“Yes, honey, they did.”

Without missing a beat, he put his little chubby hand on my arm and asked, “Mama? Why do babies die?”

Think, Christy. How do you answer this? How do you tell your baby boy that you have no idea why? That there are things in this world that you will never understand?

Before I could answer, Avery said, matter-of-factly, “You know, Evan.  If they hadn’t died, we wouldn’t be here. Right, mom? We wouldn’t be alive if they were.”

I can tell you with complete certainty that I have NEVER said this or anything like this to her. So, how does one’s 6-year-old brain come to this conclusion?

It’s not like I haven’t thought about this before. It’s not even like people haven’t said this to me before in an attempt to make me feel better (Well, you know, you wouldn’t have that darling Avery, and she’s pretty special!).  But, there really is no way to reconcile this in my mind.  It’s in a place that is so far back, that I just cannot actually access without causing major damage.  

It’s been over 8 years since Sophie and Aiden passed away in my arms.

I used to sit and wish for the day that it didn’t hurt so badly, that the grief didn’t cut so sharply.  Those days are here, gratefully.  Grief still comes in waves, of course, but now it’s these unexpected conversations, these questions from my littles or from strangers that give me pause.

Have you ever played a game like Scruples? Some of the questions are easy for me to answer- Yes, I would give the money back. No, I wouldn’t steal that if I had the chance. But, a question like, “If you could go back in time and change it so that you never lost the twins, would you do it?”

Rolling that question over in my mind is torture. It’s a question that I know, gratefully, that I don’t ever have to answer. Life is so messy, and so complicated, and it is full of things to contemplate. But contemplating this just doesn’t feel right. It brings me right back to early days, when strangers would say, “There will be other children; don’t worry.” I wanted to reply, “Oh, okay, which one of your children would you like to live without?”  

There are just some things that cannot be decided.


  • Christy Wopat

    Christy Wopat is a 4th grade teacher and writer. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and who hilarious, energetic children, and without her boy/girl twins, Sophie and Aiden, who lived for a very short time in 2009. She is honored to share her words in hopes of breaking the stigma surrounding infant loss and grief.

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