I want to tell you everything gets better, that it will be okay or easier.
But I can't. Not this week.
Some things do get better, but not all, and that's okay. In fact, that's how it should be.
I remember being where you are right now and thinking, "How long do I have to feel this way? Ten years?" It's now ten years later for me, so today I'm going to share a few things which stand out.
Like I told you (like my doctor told me): no one knows what to say to you. A friend asked me the other day what she should say to you, and my answer was, "Just be honest. Let her know you love her. I can certainly tell you what NOT to say." And my mind wandered to all the awful things I heard during my most vulnerable hours. "It's for the best." "It was meant to be." "At least you didn't bond with him." Give me a damn break. At least I didn't bond with him? Just a few years ago I had a conversation with a woman in our ward who looked right in my eyes and said to me, "I don't care who you are, you haven't bonded with your baby until it's born and in your arms, crying and cooing." It stung. I quickly ended that conversation and was reminded again to protect my son from people's ignorant ideas.
Almost a year after Taylor was born still, I had a baby girl. To this day, I cry remembering the nights when she was a newborn and I'd get out of bed, still half-asleep, looking for The Baby. Darin would find me wandering the apartment, in a panic: "I can't find the baby!" He'd take me by the arm and lead me to the girls' room: "She's right here. Look, both girls are asleep." I'd yank my arm free and snap, "I know the girls are here, I can't find the baby!" And then I'd fully wake up, and remember. And I'd crumble to the floor, helpless. When that's your reality, who wants to be awake? And when it haunts even your dreams, who wants to go to sleep? And when it lasts over a year and through a whole other pregnancy and delivery, who wants to think or be at all?
Even my body was in disbelief, with my milk coming in and no baby to take it; with my arms physically aching because my body knew there was supposed to be a baby there.
You have the rest of your life to make the snap decision of what to say when people ask you, "How many kids do you have?" Do you include your son? You want to, of course, because he is: He is your son, and he is yours, and sadly (and this is something only those in This Crappy Club can understand fully) the only way left to honor him, his memory, is by talking about him, by including him. You will likely have moments where you realize that by bringing him up you are changing the entire tone of the conversation, to the point that others think you're A Downer all the time. But you may not care because, again: How else can we include our sons who aren't here? Talking is all we have.
But you also may find that the only children you mention when asked about how many children you've got are the ones with you on earth right now, and that's because you'll feel protective of your son's identity, of his existence. You'll make a quick judgment of whether or not the person with whom you're talking is worth bringing up your son to because you can't bear the thought of someone who, in not knowing how to react, will brush off the notion that your son 'counts' as one of your kids. You reverence your son this way, and find comfort in keeping this family matter private. It's a way to protect your boy. (This does become easier over the years -- it has for me.)
Your years, your days, will start to look - to feel, to be - brighter. Really. But there will always be Those Days. You'll see the kids who are Luke's age, and it will hurt. His due date in December (Taylor was also due in December). And that crazy, complicated autumn date -- his birthday, which is also his death day (or something like that). The day you delivered, and spent time with, his body. Those are hard days, difficult seasons.
I want to tell you, though, Friend: there is reason to hope. There is hope and good in the world. Your other children will have a special knowledge - knowledge - of eternal families. They will not fear the idea of death of loved ones, but know that we can be, and are, close to those who have gone on before us. I also don't want to say too much on this point right now, because I know it might not be what you want to hear. When I was where you are, I was angry. A N G R Y. And that anger is real, and it's part of the process, and will help you insomuch as it moves you towards healing. Maybe not being healed, but healing.
Ten years later, I'm still healing. I give myself this week, each year, between two other of my kids' birthdays, to just focus on what I'm feeling. We bring flowers to the cemetery on Taylor's Day and on Easter, but this week is usually when I can be found sitting by myself at his grave, just...being his mom.
You're okay, Ann. You'll be okay. You might grieve like me, and you might not. It's okay to be angry. It's okay to hurt. It's okay to take the time to feel. And it's okay to cling to your kids in your home like they're the most important thing in the world...because they are. No one can know that like a mother who has lost one.