The white elephant in the room, protruding its tusks into every nook and every crack . He doesn’t exist anymore? He must; he sits on the mantle. The heartbeat is inside the soft, cuddly bear. A cross balances over the threshold with name stenciled in gold. The little white angel dangles from a tree branch in December. A stone with an inscription near the metal gate of the backyard greets the few solemn visitors (vines enjoy crawling this area, trying to yank the past away). A brick with engraving in a park with birds, pine needles, and our diminishing presence.
We barely knew him. A form on a flimsy piece of film. One moment happy and then the next second pure devastation…a day torn in billions of sharp pieces. What caused the real nightmare? Was it something I said or did? Did God (if there is) punish for past sins? Is that shirt I wore at the ultrasound bad luck? It must be since it remains in my closet, not worn, not touched since. Thoughts of all types scurry around one’s mind during hours of ruin.
In the beginning, some say they’re “sorry,” all while giving a look of hopelessness to the already hopeless.
“If there is anything I can do, just let me know.” Who has not been guilty of this generic strand of sympathy?
“I can’t imagine what you’re going through.” Correct…hopefully.
“I will call you later to see how you are doing.” Later has come and gone.
“Have her get an abortion.” From the mouth of family.
In the beginning, some do surprise; those you barely know give a hug, have tears in their eyes. “We lost our angel too.” You realize living in an isolated existence does not have to be. There are those who also carry torment and actually understand truly what feelings are bleeding inside a hollow shell.
* * *
A life created has vanished, and so few acknowledge what was “once.” They, perhaps, simply don’t know (or are ignorant of the fact) that pain needs support, that speaking and talking is a good thing. Sweeping love and life beneath a proverbial rug solves nothing. Talk, yell, cry, and hug. Something is better than nothing.
At the outset, there is an initial influx of love via symbolic gifts and words. These, like so many other human signals of caring, reduce to a fine dust, occasionally hovering about a room. When the initial shock and awe is concluded, friends, family, and acquaintances return to the mundane too soon.
An atmosphere of uncomfortable movements starts when conversation tries to focus towards the little one who once breathed. Are they looking upon me in a strange manner (with those empty eyes) assuming my mind has run away? Am I the crazy one, ready to be admitted to the loony bin just for the simple fact of acknowledging him? Why does speaking of the dead cause such unease among people, especially when the deceased is a child? We are so ready to be negative in this world, unafraid to insult, unafraid to bring fellow man to his knees. Gossip comes so easy, does it not? In the end, discussing life’s most important treasures (our children) should also come so easy.
I too have been guilty of pretending and forgetting (life gets in the way with its many frivolous distractions): yard work, grocery shopping, paying the bills. However, let’s work at not forgetting, while showing others that remembering and talking about angels is perfectly fine. In doing so, the ugly white elephant just might stay away.