Well, it’s upon me again, September, that is. Every year since my son died, I try to prepare myself to face this month. Most people around me are excited because with September comes the promise of fall, of hopefully cooler weather, crisper nights and colorful leaves. For most it conjures images of jack-o-lanterns and Starbucks Pumpkin Lattes. But for me, this time of the year is different, a love-hate relationship that forces me to remember, and most days relive, the hardest moments of my life. I love it for in this month I met the person who would change my life the most. And I hate it for as soon as we met, I had to say goodbye. Death in all of its finality gave me no other choice.
Those lines from Eliot’s Wasteland play in my head. “April is the cruellest month.” In my mind and in nature, September is the beginning of the end of life. A month that at its origin holds so much promise, but with its end, lets go of the life and the beauty nurtured through the spring and summer. That life within me, conceived in spring and flourished in summer, found in September only an end. No, Mr. Eliot. April isn’t the cruellest month. September is.
I don’t vocalize often, except through my writing, how deep my wounds still are from the loss of my son. That’s probably because even typing this now, words all seem inadequate. For pain this deep, there are no words, so trying to explain it to those around me just seems pointless. This type of hurt holds no words, a chasm too deep. I suppose a part of me keeps it all inside for selfish reasons. Because I carried my son those 7 months he was with us, because I was the one who felt every move, every turn, every flip, every hiccup (and he had them a lot), I know that I knew him more intimately, better, than others did. I remember how full of life he was while I carried him. I suppose that is just part of being a mom, of being chosen to carry our children. We are privy to those things. And as a loss mom to a newborn, that’s really all we have.
Cain’s birthday is tomorrow, and I find myself yet again back in that place of what if and what could have been. Oh really, who I am kidding? Those moments find me every day, but this time of the year, they are far worse and relentless in their frequency. At three years old, I wonder so many things. What color would his hair be? Would he and his brothers be the best of friends or fight non-stop over the newest Lego set? What would his personality be? So many questions that have no answers, nor will they ever, and that has to be okay because it will forever remain unknown. But it isn’t okay. And nothing has been okay since I said goodbye to him.
With each passing year, I hope it will be better this year, but the raw truth is, it never gets better. Living without one of your children, no matter the age of the loss, never gets better. It never gets easier. The parties I miss planning, the milestones I miss seeing, the hugs and I love you's that I never feel and hear, or that I never can give—that never gets easier. Instead, I speak those words into the heavens hoping he hears me. I hug a blanket he used in the hospital because it’s the only thing I have that ever physically touched him. All else, I buried with him, including a piece of myself. And then, carefully, I place it back in its box in the closet with the rest of his things, so few and never, ever enough.
Until I said goodbye to Cain, I never knew how much your heart can physically heart, but let me tell you people, it does. It aches unlike any hurt I have ever known. Nothing can satiate it. I call upon the memories, few that they are, to help ease that hunger to have one more day with him, knowing no matter how many days pass, there would always, always be a need for more.
And so as tomorrow finds me and leaves me, I’ll be hoping just to get through it without being a visible basket case, but on the inside, that’s how I’ll feel. Appearances are deceiving, and we as loss parents are masters of deception when it comes to being okay. I’ll struggle again, like I do every day, to deal with the anger that he’s not here. I’ll cry – a lot. I’ll get mad and sad and hopefully, at its end, I can find peace yet again that God afforded me the privilege of knowing him, of holding him as he left this world. I’ll stop at his grave because that’s all I can do. And most importantly, I’ll hug my two living boys tighter than normal, smoother them with unwanted kisses and hugs, and tell them I love them, knowing how blessed I am to have them with me. And my heart, unlike my son's, will go on beating with what remains of it, holding on to the promise that I will see him again.