1977

We had been parked out at the camping spot outside our town for almost a week with our Dad in charge. The summers usually consisted of them taking turns with their holidays, her one week, him the next, back and forth like that, usually culminating in 2 weeks all of us together at the end. This plan was likely made with the idea of constant supervision during the summer break, and also with the intent to minimize the need to pay someone to watch us.

We always looked forward to the weeks with Dad, as he never bothered or nagged us, and by 4 in the afternoons, it was doubtful he even remembered he had 2 kids out rambling through the wooded areas and down by the river. By that time, he was well into his cups, and either snoozing off his uninterrupted day-drunk, or listening to his Johnny Cash 8-tracks and hazily formulating supper ideas.  He was never the kind of drunk who forgot to eat, or skipped eating in order to leave more room for the rye.

All the successful professional alcoholics I have known during my life have always taken the time to eat. In their minds, it keeps them within the “normal” zone on the barometer of boozology. Dinner may be rock hard from warming in the oven, or burnt to a crisp from idling in the frying pan too long, or even served at 11 at night, but they made dinner, didn’t they?

My mother, the warden, usually kept a pretty close eye on my pops, for good reason. We loved him to death, but his irresponsibility scared her to death. He never said no to us, but always deferred to my mother if she was present, and just wanted us to be happy and free. One of my jobs was to do dishes and clean the kitchen up after dinner every night, but if it ran late, my friends would already be ringing the doorbell wanting me to go out with them. My dad would sneak down to the kitchen, and grab the towel or broom from me and whisper “go- go- be with your friends, I can finish this up for you-shhhhh.”

I am sure, looking back, that he had been doing that with me since I was a very young child. He was always so affectionate with me, always pinching my cheeks softly between his second and third fingers. Always brushing my hair out of my eyes when I was reading, and he would notice it falling forward. Always such affection and adoration from my Dad. It made me love him so much and want to “cover” for him with my mom.

I’m pretty sure that is how it started- my covering up for him and his negligence with us. My doing my damnedest to make sure anything she left for him to complete, was completed by me if he was too drunk to do it. Everything from subbing in and taking my brother for his haircuts, while my dad drank at the bar, to stealing his own wallet from him to ensure he came home with the amount of money for bills she had asked him to bring home. He was always thankful for my interventions and assistance, and loved me even more, if that was possible.

He had a pretty good system going. My mother told him what to do, or what she expected from him and he let me take care of all the pesky details and also the worry.

More time to drink.

The only phone out at the campground was by the little store- a payphone.

People didn’t need to be in constant contact back then, so it wasn’t strange to go the entire 5 day work week without talking to my mother. She knew where we were and unless we called her from the payphone, everything was assumed to be fine.

I was standing in line for a slushie with some of my friends when the man who ran the joint said to me ” Call home, kid.” I was confused, as i didn’t know he even knew who I was. I asked him if he was sure he had the right person, and he nodded, his smoke hanging off his bottom lip, and said ” yup- your mom described you perfectly, right down to the bathing suit. Call home.”

I left the line and walked toward the payphone, already feeling a twisting in my gut. I pulled a dime out of my sneaker (where all smart summer kids kept their change), and dropped it into the slot of the phone.

My mom answered immediately and told me my Uncle George had died and we needed to get home immediately.

Now, this is where this story takes a humorous turn of sorts, in spite of the spectre of death hanging over it.

I had two Uncle Georges.

One was married to my mom’s sister, and was my favourite man in the world after my Dad.

The second was married to my Mom’s best friend, my godmother.

I didn’t think to ask which one died before my mother hung up the phone.

So, off I ran to the tent trailer to tell my Dad that we had orders to get home as fast as we could, as George had died and my mom wanted us home.

As I approached the camp spot, I could hear the train whistles and Johnny Cash – Orange Blossom Special, and knew my mission might take a bad turn. The louder the music, the drunker he likely was – of that you could always be certain. I was still 4 camp spots away when i heard the music, and felt even sicker….slowed my running to a walk. I tried to calculate how many hours he had been left alone by us. It was about 4:30, and we had taken off to go swimming around 9. Even allowing him an hour for coffee, he had likely been smashing it hard since 10 A.M, secure in the thought that it was going to just be one more lazy, hazy day camping, and we wouldn’t need anything until at least 6 or 7, as we packed bologna sandwiches with us when we left.

I saw him sitting in his lawn chair, with his head slightly forward, nodding along a bit to his music. As I approached him from the trees, I could literally see him try to focus his eyes on who was walking toward him. His eyes were bleary-looking and he blinked a couple times before he smiled at me and said ” Hey shishhhhhowshh yer day going?”

I told him we had to go home and it was like it didn’t even register. Nothing.

Once again, I explained that “George” had died and that we were told to get home as soon as possible, and he looked up at me with a child’s eyes, and shook his head a bit, muttering, “can’t, can’t drive”.

We were 20 miles from home, with direct orders from the warden to get our asses home, there’s been a death, and he was sitting there, like an errant toddler, shaking his head back and forth and telling me “can’t.”

It took me about 4 minutes to assess what would be our worst case scenario – my little brother and myself dying in the car on the way home cus he was seeing double already, or dealing with my mother, who gave us a direct order.

I chose death for all of us, and quickly rounded up my brother, packed anything outside the trailer into the trailer, turned off Johnny, and threw water on the campfire he had been half-assed playing with all day. All while he sat in the lawn chair blearily watching me. He almost looked like he was pouting- sulky. Like I was also pouring water all over HIS party by making us leave.

I got my brother to help me drag our father to the station wagon on his wobbly legs and stuff him inside the driver’s door. I remember my brother giggling during all of it. He thought it was like a game- an adventure- something that plopped itself into a boring summer day that ran into all the other boring endless summer days. The idea of his sister “bossing” his dad around seemed to really amuse him a lot, in retrospect.

I got myself and my brother into the car and we sat there. Sat there for what seemed like years, waiting for him to focus- to come back to his senses- to open his eyes to the fact that  he was behind the wheel of his car, us waiting for him to turn the key in the ignition.

He didn’t move a muscle, just slumped back in his seat and started snoring quietly- he was sleeping. Passed out. Blotto.

I suddenly felt more anger than I had ever felt in my life up to that point. My chest felt like it was going to explode and blow my heart right out the windshield and into the trees beyond the car. My head hurt, my chest hurt, I was seeing stars.

I jerked my door open and ran around to his side of the car and opened the door. Then I started hitting him in the shoulders and chest and yelling at him to wake up. He jerked awake and looked so startled and then sad that his little angel, his little girl, his little co-conspirator was striking him and yelling at him.

I told him to shove over to the passenger side of the car and then grabbed my mom’s little pillow she kept in the back for when she was driving and put it on the driver’s seat.

I slid in and shut the door. With my brother’s help, I got the car started and adjusted the rear view mirror. He talked me through finding the lever to pull the seat forward and even helped by pushing with his little legs from the back seat. It was a good thing he had paid attention to how the car worked, as I never had. I must have been secure in my belief that there would always be an adult around to take care of that sort of thing.

In that way, my brother was much more of a survivor than I was. His eyes and ears never missed a thing, whereas I was always doing my best to not see or hear most of what was going on around me.

As I attempted backing out of the narrow parking spot, I nicked a corner of a tree. I remember twisting the wheel back and forth, as I didn’t understand how to move it to reverse in a different direction, so it took us some time to get the nose pointed in the direction we needed to be in. In fairness to my young self, I highly doubt after driving almost 40 years, I could reverse that big old countrysquire station wagon out of that narrow spot!

As we drove along the bumpy gravel road towards the exit, I remember panicking a bit about the directions, as I never paid any attention in a car. I had my nose in an Archie comic, waiting for the car to stop at my destination. Luckily, my brother knew where we needed to turn and how to get us out of the country and back to town.

I remember driving us, my dad snoring beside me in the passenger seat, my brother leaning into the front seat in the center, telling me when to turn left or right, when to slow down, where the “coppers” hid in the trees to nail the speeders. I told myself that if I saw any “coppers” I would just run us all to our deaths straight into the nearest tree, as that would be better than them showing up to embarrass my mother at our home. (The neighbours!!!!!)

Someone was watching over my brother and I that day and it most certainly was not either of our parents. After what seemed like forever, I turned that big old car into our driveway at home, took the keys out and threw them in my father’s lap.

My brother and I went into the house and met our mother in the kitchen, where she was waiting. I remember falling into her arms and sobbing. She believed it was from grief, I suppose. She never asked me why, just held me while I cried and shook.

She asked where my dad was, and I told her he was still  in the car, but that was all. I had already sworn my brother to secrecy on the way home, promising him all the money I had saved and also any candy I had stashed in my bedroom.

I don’t know if she ever went out to the car and figured out what had  happened.

More likely, he just woke up and came inside and nothing came of it, as there was a funeral to attend, and people coming and going, which gave her no time to question any of it, and he certainly wasn’t going to open that Pandora’s box on his own.

I remember when I finally found out which George it was that died, I felt very guilty as there was a sense of relief it wasn’t my favourite Uncle George. The guilt came because the George who DID die, had a daughter the same age as me, and was a drinker like my dad.

I remember feeling so confused about my anger towards my dad, all mixed up with a sudden fear that HE could die, too. It all became very real to me that people can die any day, from any number of ways.

Kids could wake up on a lazy summer Tuesday with a dad and by the time they went to bed at night, he could be gone.

Cold and dead and maybe the last thing his daughter said to him was “I hate you!”

Or perhaps she really let loose and uttered her first curse word directly at him…something like ” you fucking DRUNK, give me those fucking keys, RIGHT NOW!”

It could happen. ( It wouldn’t for a few more years, but not many.)

So better to just shove it deep down inside and forget about it.

I was 12.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Into the Abaddon

These events occurred following this.

Paramedics transported 37 yr old female victim of the MVA to nearest acute hospital twenty miles away from the crash site. Assessment by Emergency Medical Transport personnel indicates multiple spinal fractures. Pressure gauze applied to gaping head wound. O2 given by nasal cannula as SATS decreasing rapidly. Shock. BP  decreasing to 96/57 during transport. Patient responsive to stimulus but non verbal.

blinding lights and pain. more pain than could ever be imagined or a loving god to allow to be suffered by one of his children. too many faces, shimmering in the lights of the icy cold room. chattering teeth slamming uncontrollably against each other. can’t stop them from tearing into my lips and tongue and a hand shoves something warm between them to stop the violence of the shaking. taste of warm blood in her mouth, coppery, thick, running down her throat, causing the heaving. Ohmygodohmygod cant breathe. and struggling to sit up and stop the hurting and then a prick of the needle 

and

nothingness.

wake to the uniformed man asking about drinking that day and how much. crying please leave me alone, no, no, i wouldn’t do that ever. . he is telling the nurse with grey hair that he wants the blood immediately. has to have it before i decease for some legal reasons. the priest who is sitting by the stretcher tells him to stop, he is upsetting me and I am gasping for air, and to go away and what does any of it matter any more. the nurse is pushing the officer out of the room telling him she will get to it after,unless he wants to steal it like a thief right off the floor or me and  that it can be done quickly when it is needed. am i dying? i turn to the priest and whisper am i dying? and he looks at me with the saddest eyes and moves his lips in prayer         

“I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended into hell.”

i awaken in the blackness of nothing and silence.  it is quiet and feels like death has come for me after all. no pain, no sound, womb-like, with no atmosphere but the absence of everything. entombed in a shroud of blank space and opiates. sensing like an animal that i am not alone, i turn my head and see the whites of my sons eyes looking at mine. “mom mom mom, are you going to be ok? please be ok.”  i must be dreaming or stoned or dead. i feel removed and cannot open my lips to speak to him.he isn’t here, i must be dreaming of him. suddenly a  horrible pain in my stomach and a splintering inside of me. feeling the heat of it rising up my stomach to my throat and the spewing out of the blackness and a sudden tearing of tissue and searing agony and …ohmyGOD..and as it comes pouring out of me, out of everywhere it possibly can, burning me with its heat, i hear my son’s voice again,

” SOMEBODY COME HELP US PLEASE COME HELP US MY MOM IS BLEEDING, SHES BLEEDING ALL OVER AND IT’S EVERYWHERE! HELP HELP HELP.”

STARS air ambulance dispatched to rural hospital at approximately 2000 hours to transport MVA patient to FMC in Calgary. Internal hemorrhaging, right side pneumothorax and C7 spinal fracture primary injuries noted on transfer form.

whirring and roaring in my ears and freezing like ice, oh so cold. machines are bleeping and sending spirals of paper down to the floor and something is covering my ears. someone in a spacesuit is trying to talk to me but i can’t hear him over the whirring and clattering sounds of the copter blades and the screeching coming from the machines. i understand i am alive and moving to another hospital but not aware of urgency. i feel like i am in a space ship with all the machines and coloured lights and sounds. i don’t recall my son being with me at the hospital at all. my reality has turned into  a series of waking and nothing moments. no slow drifting from consciousness to sleep, rather a sudden jolting of existences. i no longer feel sadness or fear and feel weightless, floating along wherever these ever-changing faces take me. what makes me me, the ego, the id, my instinctive force within, has disappeared.  there is a sense of wonder and relief in the letting go

 

 

 

June 08 2002

The day my life changed forever and I became my second self.

Fact: It was a beautiful sunny June day, warm but comfortable. A beautiful day for a country drive. I had spontaneously offered to drive a young girl to see her boyfriend that day.

Background: I had met her a month before through an acquaintance. She was new to the city and was struggling to catch a break. She was a lovely little free spirit – 19 years old and alone in a new city with a lousy job at 7-11. Her name was April and within an hour of meeting her, I knew her entire life story. She talked a mile a minute and laughed and touched you while she was excitedly telling you everything about her. I worried for her. Her open heart and being alone in the city, so I offered to let her stay with me for a couple of months until she “got on her feet.” I had recently left my husband of almost twenty years and was settling into a new home with my two sons;  she may be of help to me while I was helping her, watching the boys for that hour or so after school before I got home from work.

I was like my mother that way- helping others, taking them in, getting them sorted and sending them on their way. I was not selfless- I knew she could help me too, but from the bottom of my heart, my primary purpose was to keep her safe. I felt such an intense feeling that I needed to protect her…from..something. That feeling of mine will become  a mockery  as this story finds its way out of me. My only hope is that I can somehow explain in a way that makes sense, a truly senseless tragedy, that to this day confuses me to my core  in regards to why April had to be a part of it.

Fact: We were driving in my car away from her boyfriend. She had visited with him and kissed and giggled and laughed her way through the entire time she spent with him. She was on top of the world, motor-mouthing to me about how she was so in love and how they would get married some day and the names her children would have, and how I was the BEST person she had EVER met for helping her out and taking care of her like a MOTHER would. She was sitting sideways in the passenger seat and talking with her arms and hands flying with emotion and I laughed as I told her to  sit properly in her seat and to put her seat belt on before we reached the highway. I couldn’t see out her side of the car at all and didn’t see anything until it was just….this….much…too …late. I strained to look around her as we came to the train crossing, and not seeing anything, I drove forward. The last words out of my mouth in the split second of realization that occurred were” Oh FUCK.”

RCMP Accident Report: The Northbound Canadian Pacific train struck the passenger side of  vehicle at 1535 June 08 2012. The car was pushed for approximately 30 meters, with the occupants remaining inside the vehicle, with occupant belongings being ejected out the shattered passenger window and rear windows. Witness reports stated there was a smell of gasoline and burning rubber, and that one witness (occupation: Registered Nurse)  crawled under the train to get to the victims inside the vehicle.

Eyes wide open in shock, mouth gasping for air, hurts, hurts, hurts, HURTS, HURTS HURTS,FUCK IT HURTS IT HURTS IT HURTS OHMYGOD WHAT IS HAPPENING TO MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE??? SOMEBODY HELP ME PLEASE, MOM. MOM, MOM, MOM, PLEASE HELP ME ANYBODY HELP ME OHMYGOD IMDYING IMDYINGMYSONSMYSONSMYSONSRORYNICKYRORYNICKYRORYNICKYRORY OH NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!WHAT HAVE I DONE??????? I LEFT THEM ALONE I LEFT THEM ALONE NO MOTHER NO MOTHER I’M SO STUPIDSTUPIDSTUPID!!!!! WHAT IS ON TOP OF ME? WHAT IS THAT? I HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE BUT I CANT GET THIS OFF OF ME WHAT IS IT? 

closing my eyes. too bright, too much, too hot,  close them for just a minute, put your head back and rest and close them for a minute, they are burning and something hot and sticky is in them and on your face and you suddenly smell your newborn son’s neck. the car is filled with the smell of new baby and the sweet smell envelopes you and you want to close your eyes but just for a minute and you hear your Dad’s voice and you can almost see him but he won’t help you and you cry a little and moan and almost pant like an animal and you hear his voice saying, “no, not yet, no, no, no, not yet – OPEN YOUR EYES!”

hard to breathe and whistling sounds and you sit straight and look down…and you push…that…off of you. you push hard and cry and try to breathe and then you push the arm away and you push…the other…away and you turn to your door and you slide out like a snake and fall to the ground. you get up to stand and fall again. you do this three times before someone holds you down and tells you to stay down. she tells you that you are badly injured and need to stay down. she is crying but she doesn’t  even know you…she cries as she holds you down gently.you try to tell her that if you can stand up you are alive but she can’t hear you. you have no voice left, just whistling, whining puffs of nothingness.

on your stomach with your face in the prickly grass and ditch weeds, you can smell the earth and the dirt and you can feel the sun hot on your back and the blood and your tears and the dirt become one and you hear the others whispering but you don’t care as you think about your babies and everyone you ever loved and those that loved you and it goes so fast in your head and spins and whirls that you feel dizzy and want to sit up. you almost feel like throwing up but you know that these people are sad already and you try to keep all that down and let yourself go..go..go.

you are in the ambulance tied to a board and the lady with the blonde hair is asking you who to call and you can’t say your mother cus she is old and far away and you know that is the call that will kill her so you tell her to call your brother who is reckless but strong like you and who will come for your sons if you die and they need him. she wants to know your children’s names and how old they are and what you would say to them if they were with you right now and you watch her try to write in her little coil notepad and her hands are shaking and you can’t breathe but she keeps talking and asking and writing as the ambulance moves to where they are taking you.

she asks about April’s family and numbers and you try to turn your head as far as you can in the brace

            and then close your eyes

                                              and disappear…. 

 

 

 

 

An Old Man and his Story

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http:// https://promptlings.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/the-sandbox-writing-challenge-37-something-important/

He was admitted to the hospice on a spring day.
He came in on a stretcher grumbling and cursing at every jiggle the stretcher made on its journey to his final home.

Once the transfer team had him in the bed, I went into meet him with his chart and the reams of paperwork necessary in order to admit him.
After confirming his name and his birth date and asking about allergies, the question about his next-of-kin came up.
In a wheezy voice he muttered that there was no one. He had three daughters he hadn’t spoken to in years so I could leave those “ungrateful bitches” out of his affairs.
He hadn’t seen them in years since their mother’s death.  He informed me that he was a ward of the province and the Public Trustee would be in charge of his estate.

I thanked him for the information and welcomed him,  showing him his call bell and giving him the names of the care staff on duty.

He had end stage lung cancer that had metastasized to his brain. He wasn’t expected to last more than a week with us.

When I arrived at work for my next shift, the pastoral care worker was in his room, sitting by his bed, holding his hand.
She motioned me in with her hand and whispered to me that he had become bewildered and combative, striking out at the care aids. He had sworn at them,  swinging his fists and bony arms, catching one by the hair, and screaming that she would do as she was told or pay dearly.
After he settled, pastoral care came and sat with him,  holding his hand with the lights low for hours.
Listening to him tell her his story, his successes, his failures and his pain.

Doing the job she was born to do, holding hands and praying for the souls of the almost-dead.
As his breathing grew more laboured, and the end grew near for him, she alone sat with him and prayed over him. 
Asked God forgive him his mortal sins and accept him into his loving arms  when his time came to cross over.

After he passed, she came to my desk with two cups of tea and told me to call the funeral home to pick him up.
She took a chair and told me of the things they discussed.

How he married his wife when she was fourteen.

How he went away to war when she was seventeen with two children and one more on the way.

How he came back angry and how that anger manifested into rage at  the smallest slight or perceived insult.

How his wife was stupid and asked for it.

How his daughters were stupid like their mother and asked for it too.

How his wife refused to submit to him after being beaten, so he turned that lust upon his eldest daughter at ten years of age.

How he threatened everyone with death or starvation if they didn’t do as he said.

How his younger daughters hid from him in the barn and how he would  beat their mother so they would return to the house and take “their damn turn”.

How he was the hardest working man in the whole county and how he was an elder in the little county church he attended his whole life.

How his daughters escaped one by one except for the youngest who never left. The one he assumed couldn’t survive without him, but likely stayed to take her mother’s “turns” once her mother was diagnosed with dementia.

How he was godly man who served his country and didn’t deserve such ungrateful daughters as he had.

And the chaplain held his hand, and prayed for his soul and told him Jesus died for our sins and his sins would surely be forgiven as all our sins are forgiven.

How he cried like a child when told he would be forgiven.

She left my desk and I turned on the little stained glass lamp we used to alert the staff and families that someone had recently passed.

I wrote his name on the little card and placed it in the lovely pewter holder in the base of the lamp so that the glow of the lamp shone on his name.

Then I called the funeral home to see how much longer it would be until they got that rotten son of a bitch’s carcass out of my beautiful hospice.

Adam

Twenty nine years ago tonight at about this very time, I felt the beginning stirrings of my first-born son inside me.

He was signalling me that his time had come. We would be meeting soon.

I performed the necessary silly tasks that every expectant mother- to- be performs, hair washing, leg-shaving…giggling at my then-husband’s nervousness and teasing that I really looked just fine and should likely just “sit quietly” and wait.

I kept getting up to answer the cries of “trick or treat!” at my door. Handed out candy and smiled at little princesses and firemen on my doorstep, knowing that in the future, I too, would be doorstep begging for free candy with my little one inside me.

After my Mom showed up and assessed the situation, and following a call to my Dr, we three headed off to the hospital.

My labour was typical and I handled it like a pro, according to my usually critical Mother. I remember it being a time I went deep inside myself and blocked everyone out. The only sounds I heard were my own breathing and the sound of the fetal monitor.

My Dr appeared at my bedside, performed an examination, looked a bit perplexed and left the room rather quickly.

My husband followed him out to find out what was going on. He was and still is a Nervous- Nelly type. I barely noticed either of them leaving. I was riding the waves and doing my breathing and content in the thought that everything was going as planned. Nature, after all.

Strange Dr. appears and tells me that he is the Obstetrician on call, and that my baby is breech. Asked me if I had had ultrasounds at all during the pregnancy and I told him no. Remember, this is almost thirty years ago and I was a healthy, 21 year old woman, with a very typical pregnancy and a regular family doctor overseeing it all.

Suddenly, he is harshing my mellow birthing experience and wanting an ultrasound and then wanting to try to “manually” turn my baby within me. As I found out later, this man had zero bedside manner, but brilliant clinical skills and experience.

After an excruciating ten minutes that felt like ten years, with his hands inside me twisting and pushing and rolling at my tummy from the outside as well, he told me he was going to have to perform a caesarean section and that judging by the fetal monitor, it  should occur ASAP.

Suddenly, all the lights are on in the room, I have nurses and anaesthesiologists poking at me, as well as a lab tech drawing blood for god knows what. They are telling my Mom and husband what is happening, and ushering them out and to wherever they stick people to sit and wait in agony while their loved ones are rushed to surgery.

I remember waking up in a pitch black room. It was utterly silent and I thought I had died. I was heavily drugged and felt horribly disoriented. So much so, that it took me a few moments to ever remember that I had come to the hospital to give birth. Too quiet to be a hospital. I felt pain in my stomach when trying to move and was just about to try and find a call bell or even move out of the bed ever so carefully, when I heard a sound that scared me so badly, I pulled the sheet over my face in an instinctual childish reaction.

The sound was that of a grown man in unbearable anguish crying somewhere where I could hear the pain echoing off the walls outside the door. I heard a quiet rhythmic thumping and sobbing..endless heartbreaking sadness spewing from within someone’s deepest places.

That man was my husband.

My son, Adam, was born Nov 01 1986 @ 0115 in the morning with no kidneys, which meant that his lungs did not develop. He survived inside me, but once born, could not live on his own. As I learned later, one of the biggest reasons these conditions are lethal is because if there are no kidneys or the kidneys do not function and make amniotic fluid, the baby’s lungs will not develop. The amniotic fluid is necessary for the baby’s lungs to grow and mature.

After he was delivered and prognosis shared with my Mother, she sat in the nursery with him swaddled in her arms, and simply rocked him until he died.

I was asked if I wanted to hold his deceased form in the blanket and I said no. When I tell others this, they are sometimes quite shocked and I see the looks on their faces. Expressions range from shock to sadness to bewilderment to distaste.

I never felt I had to justify that choice to anyone ever and I never have.

The reason I didn’t hold my dead, silent, still, son is not because I didn’t love him or want to hold him, smell him, touch him.

I knew in my heart if they tried to take him from me, which they most certainly would..I would shatter.

I would shatter inside to the point there would be no more me left.

I would fight and snarl and roar and scream and bite and HOWL if they took him from my arms like they took him from my belly while I was sleeping.

I had survived much already in my life, but I would not survive that.

So, I didn’t.

He was buried with my father on a gloomy grey day with just a handful of family present.

When my Mother saw the tiny casket coming, being carried quite easily by one man, she had to walk away, her sister holding her in her arms. She just could not bear it. I understood that, too. I really did and wished that I could walk away too and not see that. There is no sight in this world sadder than a tiny white casket. Nothing.

I have struggled to find the meaning in losing my first born son. Adam..the first.

I believe now that it made me a better mother to the two boys who followed.

Two more sons, the youngest, Nicholas, identical to Adam in every feature, according to my Mom and husband.

With my Mom and brother gone now, and my husband at the time now an ex-husband, I am likely the only one who remembers him at this time of year.

My first son, Adam Edward, always in my heart, where he is safe, warm and loved by his mommy.