The following excerpt relates to the day after my Gavin’s first birthday, my second Mother’s Day.
The date was Sunday, May 12, 1991.
I spent that day, the one that should have been my second Mother’s Day, weeping.
Over a cardboard box.
I was a mother.
Without a baby.
You are not alone.
I was a pregnant woman who feared she might be destined to live her life without children of her own.
Spring had arrived.
The orchard was beginning to bloom. Soon the delicate white petals would open, inviting the worker bees, whose job it was to care for their queen, and the butterflies, whose effortless flight mesmerize and inspire young children.
The birds had returned to their nests, while my hummingbirds frantically searched the feeders that in previous years I had filled with sweet, homemade, nectar.
I should fill the feeders, I thought.
Instead, I sat glued to the floor, my fingers gently hovering millimeters above the pictures of my son.
I couldn’t really touch them for fear my touch would eventually destroy the only part of him I had left.
My father called that day. He wanted me to call my grandmother and wish her a happy Mother’s Day. She really needs us right now, he seemed to be saying.
Never, never, had he called me and asked that I call her, let alone on Mother’s Day!
She’s not my mother. She’s yours. You call her! I thought.
What about me, Dad?
Don’t you have anything to say to me?
I’m a mother, too…
It’s just that my son is dead!
And though I was furious with my father, shouting the recap at my husband (as if he were to blame), I didn’t say any of this to Dad.
For deep down inside, in this perpetual school of life, I still questioned whether or not I belonged in that classroom—the Art of Mothers and Motherhood.
That Mother’s Day, I stood towering over my child as most parents do, wanting and waiting for the arms to grasp me around the knees and topple me to the ground with laughter.
I didn’t hear the laughter, and the arms never grabbed me.
But my phrase, “We’re only a heartbeat away,” did.
Someday, Gavin, someday we’ll be together.
I tried to find comfort in the etching of the little boy holding the lamb, the one my husband had so carefully picked out as he tried to decipher what our son’s entire life would represent—the day he’d picked out the headstone.
You are not alone.