Pinecrest Lake 1
Pinecrest Lake, Pinecrest, California (Miranda Hernandez)

I call it the nuclear bomb. It’s a weapon. It’s the thing I want to tell but not to say. It’s the thing nobody wants to know.

I guess something I knew but didn’t realize was that there would be so many new people here. I guess something I knew but didn’t realize was that I was going to have to start making choices. Who am I now? What do I say? What do I want people to see?

I bought myself a coffee mug that says “Mama Bear”. Underneath it says, “Est in 2017”. I love it, but I’m also scared of it. I’m scared of these awkward conversations. I’m scared to point out to someone who has been so very helpful that I already am a mother, that the phrase “will be” has no place here.

I feel like I got here through stubbornness. Statistically, most women don’t choose like me. Statistically, I should have been married with 2.3 kids at least five years ago. My path isn’t typical, but it’s what I chose. It’s mine.

I live in a world where I used to be someone. I had a good record, and of course a few faults. But I was on a track, I was living a purpose. And everything now is just — different.

I sat down with my new supervisor when I got here. I thought it was something he should know. I still have trouble saying the words. It will always feel like a nuclear bomb.

And here is where it becomes interesting. What is the first thing that people say? Do they ask about him? Do they change the subject? Do they apologize, as if they are somehow at fault? Is it my turn to comfort them, or will I ever be comforted?

I wonder what people see when they look at me. I wonder what image I present to the world. I wonder what it would feel like to work that crazy schedule again, and still be me, still feeling so empty. I wonder what it would be like to greet the day with anything like that old excitement.

I’ve often said that those of us who have experienced tragedy live in a new layer of existence. It’s the thing that defines us now, that marks this transition to this separate world. And I almost said “different” there instead of “separate,” but this is another defining characteristic; because the only thing that is different is each of us. Because we are a world inside of a world, and we are the only ones who know.

But sometimes, there are windows. Sometimes, people find them and start to peer within. And we have the choice to welcome them, but it’s always with a bang. Because you can’t slip inside this club unnoticed. You can’t join this world without some sort of initiation. And all of us who are already members genuinely hope that you don’t have to know this experience. But if you don’t, then you have to hear about it, and it’s always like dropping a bomb.

I am a mother. I have a son. My son is dead. This is my world.