How do you tell his story?
I asked this of myself hundreds of times over the past month.
I finally accepted that I could never tell the story adequately. That if I was going to do it, I just had to reconcile that within myself.
It wouldn’t be perfect, but it would be his.
Even now as I sit at my computer ten years later I find myself emotionally defunct and just as aware of the enormity of grief as I was that day. A grief so all-consuming that no one person can process it. The only thing that can be done is to allow yourself to feel a little bit at a time, on a schedule, while forcing yourself towards resilience otherwise.
On February 24, 2002 my son died.
Before Everybody’s Boy.
Before my life changed forever for the second time.
There was another boy.
A boy I didn’t expect. A boy I wasn’t sure I was ready for. A boy that tested my faith, my strength and my resolve to live.
I was young.
I was pregnant.
He was sick.
His diagnosis was “Incompatible with Life”.
Even so, I had faith back then. I prayed and willed all the doctors to be wrong. I begged God to heal him. I begged for a miracle.
When that failed, I prayed to God to take me instead.
He lived in my womb for 25 weeks and then he died.
I held his tiny and still body. One pound and eleven ounces.
Perfectly shaped long fingers, just like mine, otherwise remarkably primed for the concert piano.
There was a hint of my smile on his lifeless mouth.
It was the worst day of my life.
When you are 23, you can’t imagine that these things happen.
Babies don’t die.
But he did.
He did die.
But he also taught me how to live.
Because there is something about losing a child that puts everything else into perspective.
Because Autism is really hard, and heartbreaking, and scary.
But it is not “Incompatible with Life”.
So for that, and so much more, I will always be indebted to my first-born son.
In memory of ~Bradley~