Over the past week I have noticed on a lot of the blogs I have been following that this is always a shared experience. An experience that we can do without. I do understand that each and every thing that we do in life touches our life and our family.
When you are building a home…how many washrooms will you need for your family of 2, 4 or 6? What size sewer tank? When purchasing a car… How many seats and space do you need to accommodate your family? When buying a washing machine do you plan on having a family of 4??? Life insurance. What provisions do you need to make? Calling to book a hotel for a vacation? Our income taxes. No matter which way we turn we are always answering or faced with the question how many members are in your family?
When you are one of us these simple everyday questions become something to fear. A constant reminder of what we do not have or can not have. We understand that no one means any ill will toward us or that they are asking these questions to hurt us.. But, they do hurt, they make us cry, they make us angry, they make us to live in fear on when we will have to answer one of them and what answer do we give.
Our son passed away in May of 2012. I was home on maternity leave for a few months. I had not gone far from home. I had been to a postpartum checkup and other than going to the grocery store and the bank I had not left the 5 mile radius of my home. You see our home is our safe place. Nothing can touch us there. We can allow in what we can handle or what we wish. We do not have to answer the phone and we can just shut the door. It is where we stay to protect ourselves emotionally.
One of my cousins was getting married in August. 1400 km from my home. It was a couple of weeks before I was due back to work. There were five of us growing up that are all 6 years apart in age. We have always had some great times and I was honored to be invited to share in his special day. We set off to go to the wedding. I did not fare well. I cried myself to sleep each night and was an emotional wreck. I had not left home since the day my son passed away. He is buried 2 kms from our home. I felt like I had left him. I have never in my life had anxiety. I have it often now. Crowds, distance none of the such have every bothered me. I have travelled alone many times, driving, flying etc. I could not do that now.
The wedding was beautiful and followed by a lovely reception. We were seated at round tables, in groups of 6. My husband, sister and I were seated with another couple. The gentleman was a pastor. They were a nice couple. During the meal he asked the following of my husband and I. “How many kids do you have?” I froze. This is the first time I had been faced with that question since our son passed. I could not answer I was scared. When no one answered him he said “What you do not want kids, you do not like kids, what is it?” My sister is now upset. (She is what you call feisty) She gives him a look that pins him to his chair and says “Their only child, a son, just died!!” He then looks at us with the same look of fear we have. He realizes what he has done and has absolutely no idea how to get out of it. All he can mutter is “I am sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you.” I replied “That’s ok.” What do you say? How do you deal with this? My Aunt sees the look of horror on my face and me crying and comes running. “Are you going to be ok?” Simple enough question and meant out of love. But really the answer is no. No I am not ok.. No I am not going to be ok. I said “Great, excuse me I have to go to the washroom”
I know in my heart that questions like these are not meant to hurt. This does not ease the pain of having to answer them. Being the person in my shoes, I try to avoid being asked questions. I think in the end that the person on the other side really does not want me to be absolutely truthful about what my life is like, how I feel and what future I face. Let’s be real about this…