Three years ago.
It was three years ago today I left the hospital for the first time after nearly three weeks of bedrest. I'd been airlifted in during winter's last April gasp, but in my hermetic isolation in ye olde Craftmatic, the ground had transformed into a mushy carpet, spongy with sprigs of green poking through it. I felt like Rip Van Winkle, utterly out of time.
We drove out of the city, to the old tower on its outskirts, the one I'd climbed as a child every time we visited. My legs were weak and I walked gingerly. I was not in pain, per se...just timid, afraid I would break. The tower was closed, too old, too dangerous to be left open for tourists any longer. I stood in front of it, staring, as if I looked long and hard enough I might catch a glimpse of a younger me, might disappear with her into a different time, any other time than this.
She did not materialize, that former self. And I realized, viscerally, that she never would again...that there was no going back. I had stepped off the side of my own flat earth.
I turned in the rain, then, and tested my footing on the slippery bank of overgrowth there that leads up and then down, eventually, to the harbour. I climbed a little, until I was alone on a low ridge, looking down through the brush on tiny sailboats, seabirds. And when I was sure I was far enough away that no one could hear me, I spoke into the wind, and spoke his name for the first time in the thirty-six hours since he'd died.
i had a son. his name was Finn.
It was only a whisper, spoken to raindrops. But I knew it might be a very long time before I had the courage to say those words aloud again, to risk exposing the gaping wound I had suddenly become, to risk being that crazy lady talking about her dead baby. I knew too that I needed, desperately, to mark him on the world, to tell someone of my joy and my pride in him, of my sorrow, to tell that he had been here.
My tears mixed with the rain and those eight words echoed.
It was only in the year and more after his death that those echoes found expression anywhere, for me. On my blog, I began to carve out a space in which I could say his name, lay out sides of my parenting experience that I had no way to speak in polite company. I felt exposed, but freed, too. And in finding ways to incorporate Finn's story into my own narratives of myself as parent, I slowly became, once more, a version of whole.
Of the six of us here, I am the furthest out on this road of grieving and healing, the one whose loss is the furthest removed in time. I am the one whose firstborn died, who went home both a mother and not a mother. I was utterly changed by the eleven hours of my son's life, but the disconnect between the internal sea change of becoming a parent and the external lack of anything to show for it...that sparked its own particular grief and isolation. I am the only one, yet, who has had another child born since my loss, and perhaps the only one who has had another loss in the interim. I am proof of survival. And I am grateful to be in the company of these woman here, sister Medusas and friends, all of us with our stories.
My name is Bonnie. I had a son. His name was Finn.