I can't remember a time when I didn't know that my Mom lost her first baby. It feels like I've always known, which is probably partly because I'm so old. I can't remember the beginning of a lot of things things. Hell, my head is so full I often can't remember much of yesterday.
But I digress...
I've thought so much about my lost brother or sister over the years. There was a time when I was a child that it preoccupied me endlessly. I decided that the baby was a boy and prayed for him at church and before bed, all the while wondering what life would have been like if there were three children instead of two. Me and two siblings instead of just one. Me with a big sister and a big brother.
Of course I never bothered to try to figure out the logistics of this feat. My Mom became pregnant with my sister just a few months after losing the baby, so clearly Kathy wouldn't be here if that first child was.
But details like that aren't important when you're a kid all caught up in the romance of having a mysterious lost brother. A secret sibling.
I remember being so affected by the tears in my Mother's eyes when she would talk about that long lost child. I was in awe of the strange bond that she shared with him and, truthfully, probably a little jealous. Which is, of course, totally ridiculous. But having never seen my mother cry over me it was jarring to see her express such sorrow and love for a child I'd never known. And would never know.
Her eyes still fill with tears when she talks about him. He would be 42 in May. Forty-two, and yet the pain is still so acute that it brings tears to her eyes.
This is endlessly comforting, even though there is certainly guilt in taking comfort from someone else's pain.
But the thing is, knowing that she still misses her child this deeply makes me think that it's okay that I still cry. That I still mourn. That I still think about my lost babies too. I came to the conclusion that this is the way it's always going to be a long time ago, but my Mother's tears validate it in a way that nothing else can.
And so my brother means that much more to me. Is that much more a part of the fabric of our family in an awful, but also loving and healing way.
He matters. Just like all the little ones do.
In the days and weeks following her miscarriage, my Mom worked on an art project to occupy her mind and soothe her spirit. I didn't know this until that art project found its way into my front garden last week after I coyly finagled its liberation from the back of their garage. Just in time for Christmas.
Knowing its history, particularly with the history of sorrow I now carry in my own heart, makes it even more special to me.
It reminds me of love and family and loss and bonds that are never, ever broken. Not even after 42 years.