At the baby group on Thursday, there was a mom there who was there for the first time. She was one of the first people to introduce herself, and she commented that this was her second child. As we went around the circle, other people mentioned that they had one or two other kids at home. I knew some people had other kids because they had come up in our discussions before, but people don't usually mention them during the group introductions. But, it felt like yesterday was mention all your children in your introduction day, so I introduced myself and Kathleen and said that she was our second child. I named Henry and gave the briefest version of his story, simply that he died a little over a year ago.
Maria, who runs the group, thanked me for sharing and told the group that it was really hard to do. I couldn't look at people for a while after that, so I looked at Kathleen.
After the group, I was talking to one of the mom's and she said she was really sorry about my son. I told her a little more about Henry, how we knew he had a heart defect, how we learned he would need surgery, how we were sure he would be fine after his surgery, how he was fine for two weeks, but how he got sick and ended up in the hospital for 3 months, how we brought him home so briefly before he was back in the hospital and finally died. I didn't tell her how much I loved his smile. I didn't tell her how intently he used to study faces. I didn't tell her how he found his feet while he was in the hospital or how hard he could kick. Just what happened—and that I miss him.
I never know what to say when people say they are sorry, even when they seem sincere and don't walk away or rush the conversation on to something else. Am I protecting them? protecting me? I don't know. Is it just that I can't find the words to capture his spirit or the joy he brought me or the depth of my grief?
Maria emailed me after the group to see if had been okay for me to talk about Henry. She also said that whenever I say his name she pictures his beautiful little face. Somebody thought of my baby yesterday—and all I had to say was his name.