August

It is August again. It has been for over a week now, but I've been unable to bring myself to put my thoughts and feelings into words here. It's August, Gavin's month. I can't hide from it. I can't escape. The anniversary of his birth and death are just up the road and much as I want to avoid moving toward that spot, time is carrying me forward and I have no choice but to move with it.

It doesn't seem real. It doesn't seem possible. But, these events have an anniversary, and those anniversaries are almost here, which means they must have really happened. Disorientation is having its way with me. Didn't this just happen? And yet it's been a year? Shouldn't I be focusing all of my energy on curling around him, protecting and shielding him from what's to come? Maybe I can make it turn out differently next time. Maybe he will live longer than 6 hours. Maybe I can avoid it altogether. If I just stay in this moment with him, giving him all of my love and every ounce of strength I have to keep him alive. Is his story really finished? Has it really been final for almost a year? I'm still kneeling at the site of the trauma, trying to make sense of it, and here I come approaching the scene again. I join my kneeling puzzling self and search and grope some more. It just cannot be real.

The month that my son was born. The month that he breathed. The day that I held him. The day he met his family. The month that he died. The month when professional colleagues became my and Gavin's caregivers and witnessed the most intimate, vulnerable, painful events of my entire life. The month where my insides were ripped out of me and left mangled on the ground. The month where I learned that I would have to try and figure out how to put those pieces of myself back together into some sort of functional arrangement while continuing to do the things I had been doing before. Even though my world and any sense of comfort that I'd ever known had been shattered. The month that I realized that I would have to take time to feel my grief or it would consume me. The month that seemingly innocent things like seeing babies would take on the power to invoke soul-crushing pain. The month that would forever divide my life into "before" and "after." The month that I planned a funeral for the first time. The month when I bathed and dressed and held my dead son. I can never go back to that time and recover what I've lost. And yet it's here again, and the pain is coming for me. I'm trying to avoid it but it is relentless.

I carried him. To term. I fought for him. Loved him. I love him still. He should be here, but he is not here. The intense desire to mother, to nurture, to protect, remains present. The need to talk about him, learn more about him, discover him, is still intense and very real. I woke this morning hearing a baby crying. Not a newborn cry, an older baby cry. On one level I knew the house was, in reality, completely silent. And yet the cry in my head was loud and real, demanding. How do I soothe him? How do I soothe myself?

I see other babies growing, smiling, chubby rolls and bright eyes, delicious cheeks and beating hearts. Turning one. Living, despite the fact that my son stopped living almost a year ago. After growing safely within me for 37 weeks and 2 days, he lived 6 hours and then died. And part of me died with him. And the part that is still here is so deeply wounded. I feel the forward moving current of life sweeping me away with it, and yet there is still so much work for me to do back in August of 2016. I left my son there, I dropped him and somehow I have to reach him again, connect with him. Carry him forward with me. Love him. Protect him, hold him, nurture him. He is my baby. He needs me, and I crave him.

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