When MJ called me yesterday she was sobbing so hard I couldn’t understand what she was trying to say.
“Honey are you OK? What’s wrong? Why are you crying?? What’s going on??”
“Baby…ask me…can’t do it,” was all I could make out through her tears and grief.
I was in my office with my two co-workers and made quite the scene as I bolted from my chair to go into the empty room in our building. I didn’t know what was wrong or if my wife was safe. She was supposed to be picking up Will around that time so I also feared for him too. But because MJ couldn’t contain her sobs and wails of pure agony, I was left feeling more helpless than ever as I begged her to compose herself to the point that she could tell me what was wrong.
My heart racing with fear and my legs feeling like jelly, I dropped down on my knees and started crying silent tears as I awaited her response. Finally, after what seemed like an hour, she was able to tell me what was wrong.
“The doctors called about my surgery next week,” she said. “And they asked me if I wanted to bury the baby.”
This time we both sobbed uncontrollably.
MJ is so strong. Always has been. And although I didn’t think it was possible after 4-1/2 years of marriage, my admiration of her has grown exponentially over these past two weeks. She’s handled herself with as much class and dignity as any human being can muster under the circumstances.
But in the end she’s a mother. And in a just world no mother should ever have to decide how she wants to dispose of her child’s lifeless little body.
This whole ordeal has been like an earthquake. The initial quake hits you and it takes you by surprise with it’s strength and how fast it came on. The devastation it causes is immediate, widespread and apparent. You can plainly see the wreckage and the path of destruction it has left in its wake. Although you’re floored by the tragedy of it all, deep down you know you can someday move on and rebuild. But while you’re at your lowest point, the aftershocks come. Technically they’re not as powerful as the original quake, but their effect may be even more devastating. Because you’re being kicked when you’re down and you can’t readily determine the damage from the aftershocks because it’s hidden underneath all the preexisting carnage. And the aftershocks come when you’re at your most vulnerable and teetering on the brink of an abyss so dark and terrifying it’s unimaginable.
We’ve gone through the big one, and now the aftershocks are coming. Do we want to bury the baby? Should we allow doctors to autopsy the kid in the hope some kind of medical advancement can be gleaned by examining his/her condition? Do we find out if we were having a boy or a girl?
I’ll have to think about these things very soon. But not right now. Right now MJ and I just need to survive.
We have no more defenses. Right now we don’t have the ability to put up walls or deflect things that hurt us. Everything that comes our way is felt. Deeply. The wounds are so fresh and so raw, and they just hurt. I can put a lot of things out of my mind, focus on something else, dull the pain for awhile. But not with this. The pain comes and it strips us bare. It lodges into our souls and it fragments into a million little pieces that tear through our bodies with shrieking agony.
I’ve never understood how anyone can suffer from depression. Hell, in the beginning of my marriage I was critical of MJ and I flat out told her I didn’t think depression was real and that she should just snap out of it. I wasn’t saying it to be mean, I was just speaking out of ignorance because that’s what I truly believed. But now? Now I see how it could happen. I can see how someone could just give up and wave the white flag in the face of something so horrendous. I no longer judge, I sympathize.
Perhaps the only thing stopping me from surrendering is Will.
I feel bad for the poor kid because I’ve been smothering him. Last night we all cuddled in our bed and he fell asleep in between me and MJ. When MJ tried to pick him up and take him to bed I wouldn’t let her. In fact I slapped her hand away and shielded him from her with my body. As a rather vocal opponent of co-sleeping I even surprised myself with my actions. But in that moment I couldn’t let him go. I couldn’t let him out of my sight. Eventually I brought him to bed, but even then I couldn’t leave him. I laid down next to him and fell asleep, feeling his breath on my cheek and enjoying him curled up next to me as I put my arm around him.
I just felt I had to protect him.
Because a dad is supposed to protect his kids at all costs, yet my son or daughter is dying. What kind of daddy lets his baby die? For Will I’m a changer of diapers, a security blanket, a safe haven and a kisser of boo-boos. But for this baby I’m just the useless piece of shit sitting in a doctor’s office watching an ultrasound machine and crying. Dads are all-powerful, yet I can do NOTHING. I can’t even get my shit together to the point where I can decide what to do with my kid’s dead body.
Everyone keeps telling me this is happening for a reason. That there’s a lesson in here somewhere. That God never dishes out more than any one person can handle. Maybe. It’s possible when things calm down and I can think about this rationally there will be a silver lining. Some kind of valuable insight I employ later on in life.
But that day isn’t coming any time soon. And I have funeral arrangements to make for a child I’ll never know.