Missing out

Photo by  Lauren Rushing

"What do you think A'd look like now, mama?"
asks his younger brother, a child who
looks exactly and nothing like his own baby pictures.
It's his loss too. He lost a brother before he himself
was even conceived. Or conceived of.
"What do you think, baby?"
"Tall. He'd be tall. Taller than you, mama."
"That's not too hard, and he was tall.
Though maybe not yet at eight and a half."
"Yeah... maybe not."
("... but soon" he almost says, but doesn't.)
He has a friend in the same boat.
They talk about their dead brothers and beyblades.
They can play with beyblades.

The room is filled with light. So is the mother,
her face turned up, awash with gratitude, love, joy.
It's her son's day, and he is the nicest teen
you've ever met. Caring, thoughtful. Sweet.
I've been to twenty-some odd of these—
a rite of passage.
I've known the kids since they were five
and I was (in retrospect) barely functioning,
bruised by the first year after, tender.
An honored guest is mentioned, a friend—
she was a doula at the birth, and now...

In my mind's eye, just for a second, the kid,
thoughtful, caring, sweet, the nicest teen
you'd ever met, is sucked away, vacuumed up
into the Never. The room empties, guests
are off doing their own things, wherever—
it's only his day if he's there for it.
I shudder, breaking the spell.
It's all back—the room, the kid, the celebration.
He was born, and lived.
And the guests, all of us, are richer, better for it.  
I'm wrung out and sad. I wonder, again,
what we missed out on
because A did not live.

Hey, world! You've missed out too.
You are missing out...


Who is missing your child(ren) with you? Who do you wish would?