You'd never know by looking at that sweet little face, but I'm beginning to think that R is an agent of the Grim Reaper.
I've been fairly fortunate when it comes to experiencing death. Since I was born, three of my great-grandparents died, but they were all really old, and it was expected. My grandpa died unexpectedly on Christmas Day six years ago, which was pretty awful. There have also been some people in the same school/company/etc., but no one who was really in my circle.
Since R was born, however, death seems to be much more prominent in my world. In the past four months, I've been to one funeral or visitation a month. It hasn't been anyone I was personally that close to - B's fraternity brother's fiancee who we'd spent some time with, a friend's mother, a coworker's husband, and just this weekend, another coworker's baby - but the degree of separation between me and mortality has been greatly reduced.
I thought the streak would end after the third, but R continues to bring death into my orbit.
* * *
As you may have figured out, this post has nothing to do with R being a harbinger of doom (I don't really believe that, in case you were wondering), and everything to do with the death of my coworker's baby. It has really, really gotten to me.
He was her first child. He was perfect and tiny, with tons of dark hair. His mommy and daddy were so excited to have him in their lives. He turned one month old on Friday, and was gone when they went to check on him Saturday morning. No one has any more details right now, but SIDS is the likely culprit. I've felt physically ill about it since I heard the news this morning.
Sadly, this isn't the first infant death I've been associated with. A dear friend lost her daughter a couple of years ago, and though my heart broke just as much for her and her family as it it's breaking for my coworker and her husband now, it feels different this time. I think the difference is that this poor, sweet baby died after I became a mother.
The love you feel for a child is different from the love you feel for a spouse or a parent. It is fierce and it is strong. And even on the worst of my days, even when I feel like I hate my sons and despise my role as mother (which still happens occasionally, unfortunately), the love is still there. It might be deeply buried under all the negative emotions, but it's still there and I know it. The childless among you are probably rolling your eyes at me right now, and I don't blame you - I would have done the same thing two years ago - but trust me on this one. It really is that intense.
Now that I know that kind of love, I'm a little better able to fathom what the loss of a person you love so deeply and strongly must feel like. And it's heartrending.
Believe it or not, I'm a deeply empathetic person. When those I love hurt, it hurts me, and I want to do anything I can to make the hurt go away for both of us. You don't have to be my BFF or my sibling for me to feel that way about you, either; you could just be someone who works in another department of my company and happens to eat lunch at the same time I do.
I hate not knowing what to do or say, fear saying or doing the wrong thing. I hate that I'm worried about how I feel in this situation. And, most of all, I hate that this precious life is already gone from the world, before he even had a chance to really be in it.
So, moms and dads, give your kids an extra hug and kiss tonight. And thank the Lord (or whatever higher power you might believe in) that you're still lucky enough to be able to love on them.