I recently read an excerpt from Elizabeth Edwards’ book about resilience, a subject she knows a thing or two about after battling breast cancer, surviving the death of her 16-year-old son, and enduring her husband’s infidelity. This was her comment about the loss of her son.
“Right after Wade died, I said to a friend, ‘At least I had him for 16 years.’ And immediately I thought, What a stupid thing to say. It will never be enough, not for him, not for me. But the truth is, I had him for 16 years. And the day I [can’t see] the value in having 16 years with that boy is the day I cut off the edges of my life and narrow it down to a non-feeling middle. And I don’t want to live there.”
I understand. I felt the same way during one of my endless “What if?” conversations with myself. I was thinking about what would have happened if I had gotten pregnant in June or August, not July when I conceived Jonah. I immediately felt a strong sense of regret because if I hadn’t gotten pregnant in July, I wouldn’t have Jonah. We had only 37 weeks and 1 day with him but if the options are to experience his life AND death or never know him at all, I would take the joy and the pain any day. I recently read that most bereaved parents say that they would do it all again, even knowing the outcome and that’s the catch-22 of losing a child: you feel a grief that is beyond measure but it’s a price you’re willing to endure for the privilege of knowing your child.
That’s where I find myself four months after Jonah’s birth. If someone had said, “Well, at least you had 37 weeks with him,” in the days after Jonah died, I would have wanted to punch the person. But as the grief becomes less intense, it becomes easier to embrace the “rightness” of Jonah’s birth on the first day of spring. He is the perfect balance of light and darkness, of joy and pain.
Happy four-month birthday, little dude!