I woke up this morning to your sister saying, “Mama”. It’s how she usually gets my attention these days. I love the sound of it, and the way she is so demanding. When she wakes up, it’s like a hurricane has descended on the world. And I wonder — would that have been you too?
Letters to my dead son
Entries in “Letters to Adrian” are posted in periodic batches, generally several months after being written. Please check back or subscribe to updates for the next set of letters.
Most days I feel “fine.” I live life and I care for your sister, and when the subject comes up, I talk about you. I love talking about you. And sometimes I feel bad, even though I know better, that I hardly cry anymore.
I caught a glimpse of my tattoo in the mirror the other day. The days move so quickly lately, sometimes I forget it’s there. Sometimes I miss the burning underneath my skin, how it felt when everything was new.
Our old house is for sale. In the photos, it looks cluttered. They have a boy and a girl, fully lived-in rooms. We wouldn’t have had that, not there. It still feels weird to look at.
Your sister was offered a daycare slot and it brings up memories. People around me are having boys and it brings up memories.
I was driving down the road on the way to therapy, and this memory came out of nowhere and I laughed out loud. I’m laughing again. There is joy, and there is pain, and there is you. There is always you.
I’ll never understand the Quora voodoo, but I finally have an answer that is gathering attention. And of course it’s about you. I like being able to talk about you.
I’m glad I got out of bed today. I like watching the water. There’s a guy beyond the ice plant, painting on the rocks. I remember sitting here last year, feeling overwhelmed and sad. It was hard.
This past year has been different. You’d think the biggest part would be your sister, and of course she’s part of it. There’s also me. I’ve been developing. I’ve been learning and hiding in equal measures.
The lead up is different this time. It’s quieter. I’m not sobbing. I sit here with your sister and most parts of the day I feel fine. It’s only in those random moments, those echoes of memory — and I still wish I could feel more of you.
They I gave her to me and she was screaming and all I could think was yes, mama loves you so much. You are a new piece of my everything. And suddenly I’m just bigger and you are still gone and I’m straddling the world in two.
I find myself living in the world again, at least in pieces. And I railed and I fought and I thought maybe it would be that way forever. And I’m realizing, even when I maybe don’t want to, that somehow I am living.
And for the longest time, I couldn’t cry. And for the longest time I couldn’t cry about you. And then today, and it feels almost out of nowhere. Like it’s a full body memory, and I realized I still miss you. I’ve never stopped missing you.
For the past year, I’ve told myself everyday I would do anything to have you here with me. If I could travel back in time I would do anything to convince myself we should have been induced…For the past year, I’ve told myself this, but now I realize that’s changed.
I’m feeling a bit “better” now. I don’t really know what that word means. But I woke up this morning, and it didn’t hurt to get out of bed.
It’s the random moments.
I miss you.
If you were here, would I still feel lonely? I can’t think that my happiness rested on you.
I haven’t written, lately, because words have felt hard. I haven’t written, lately, because my attention hasn’t been focused on you. And I want to apologize, because I remember those early days when I thought I would never stop thinking about you.
I remember the feel of those early days. I remember when tears were always on call. I remember when I didn’t have to close my eyes to think of you.
In those early days, most things were harder. But grief was easier. It was always present.
I think somehow I felt like I would be healed now, like your birthday would be a healing event. Like I felt about that cruise. I will never be healed.
If they asked me to describe you, I would start with your eyes. I never got to see your eyes, just your long eyelashes. If they asked about your first word, I would have to shrug. Though statistically, (ironically,) it’s almost always “dada”. If they asked about my hopes for you, I would have to say my biggest hope was that you would have felt loved. It was always important to me that you feel loved.
When I pictured this moment during our pregnancy, I had all the typical first birthday dreams. I thought about outfits, and cute party hats, and an elephant cake you would smash more than eat. I thought about family, and packed photo books, and maybe a few presents. But mostly just love.
12 months ago, I was in labor. 12 months ago, you were preparing to be born. And this moment will always live in my memories.
I think one of the strangest things I’ve learned about grief is that it’s expressed in the most unusual ways. Beyond the big moments, easily understood, I’m finding it lives in the details.
I miss those moments now, that time when I felt complete in my grief. Because now I yearn for community, and it’s missing.
I had trouble getting out of bed this morning. I have trouble finding motivation, sometimes. These days feel uncomfortably familiar. I wonder if I’m regressing.
I turned down some “really good acid” today. I never thought I’d find myself in that situation. I never thought I’d find myself in a lot of places.
When I first started writing about you, I felt guilty to feel excitement. I felt guilty in that brief joy and how easily the words flew. The one bright spot in my life was in finding the right words to talk about how much I missed you.