It was still early in my loss, but after I had moved and started in a new office. Many people did not know about my son. From the outside, I appeared to be childless.
There was a coworker I had felt I was starting to form a friendship with. I took a chance, and I showed him a picture of my child: “This is my son. He died last year.”
My coworker was unprepared. He made a small noise, gave me a sad smile, and then reached over and shut my laptop.
If you are reading this, dear coworker—yes, I still remember.
I don’t bring this up now to shame my coworker. I was still in my awkward phase then, and I’m sure he was caught off guard.
I bring this up, because it illustrates something important—people who haven’t dealt with tragedy are often made uncomfortable by any mention of the life that remains. It’s as if there is this irrevocable connection between my son’s death and his existence; as if these things are forever entwined instead of merely adjacent. And somehow, any mention of any of it is just “sad.”
But you see, dear coworker, this is not the case. My son’s death was traumatic, but his life was the biggest gift. And this is why I still talk about him, today.
Because I’m his mother.
Because he existed.
Because it doesn’t make me sad to acknowledge these things.
It’s just life.
And the fact that he lived is pretty darn amazing.