I would tell you he died three days before was due, and was born nearly 24 hours later, on New Year’s Eve morning, a perfect, handsome little boy: 19.5″ long; 7 lbs, 10 ozs; long fingers and toes; his big sister’s button nose; delicate, perfect ears.
I would tell you, if you would listen, about a little boy who lived and died within me—one perfect life, abbreviated, nearly unknown.
I would tell you, if you asked, that Ben would kick me when I played loud music, that his big sister couldn’t wait to bring him home and share her toys, that she grieved for her little brother for months after he was gone.
I would tell you of the people who stood by us, who cried with us, hugged us, who knew they couldn’t understand but loved us and supported us anyway — the ones who weren’t afraid to look deep into our pain and hear it.
If you would listen, I would tell you of the pain that comes from not being able to share all of my children with the world. With you. He was – and is – our boy, one of the three best things we have ever done.
I would tell you now, 15 years on, not of the pain of hearing the platitudes that those who could not face our pain repeated: God must’ve needed another angel, everything happens for a reason, God only gives you what you can handle.
I would tell you instead of the love that I remember and carry with me, the love from the friends who tried.
What I would tell you, if you would hear it, is that I will never be the woman you used to know.
I would tell you, ask you, beg you—to please just say his name. He is not “the baby, the little boy,” he is Ben, my son.
He was here; he lived, I held him in my arms and told him I loved him, counted his fingers and toes and kissed him goodbye.
I would tell you that I love him every day, I carry him with me, every day, just as I do my two living children.
I will miss him until my dying breath.
And that’s what I would tell you, if I could tell you about my son.
About the Author: Virginia is a mother of three, her living children Charlotte and James, and Ben, who died 15 years ago. An American in England, she lives and works in the rural countryside of Kent. Her essays on loss have appeared in the anthologies They Were Still Born: Personal Stories about Stillbirth and Breaking Sad: What to Say After Loss, What Not to Say, and When to Just Show Up.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash