Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Dreaded Question

I've been out and about a lot more now that that weather is nicer. (Ha! Not today; today we have snow and freezing rain.) When the sun is shining and the breeze is warm, people are not only outside more, but out of their shells a little more too, it seems. Have you noticed it? People are much friendlier when the weather is nice!

It is a nice thing. I enjoy small talk with other moms at the park, random strangers in line at the grocery store, mumbling to the dentist between fillings(I had two, ugghhh). But there is always that one question that everyone always asks. "How many kids do you have?" It seems like such a safe and normal thing to inquire. And I suppose it is, for most people. But it always catches me off guard and I never know quite how to answer.

I love talking about my family and I really do like talking about Jameson. It hurts regardless, but at least remembering him and sharing him with other people is a nice thing. But sometimes I really don't feel like getting into it. I don't want to get into the gory details in line at the grocery with a stranger I'll probably never see again. I don't mind the heartbreaking story- I've already lived through it and it can't get worse. But there is just no way to avoid the horror and then abashed pity that flashes across the eyes when I answer the question honestly. And sometimes I just don't want to get into it. I don't want to be pitied. I don't want to see my anguish in another's eyes.

So the whole truth is usually out; instead I tend to use some half-truths. I really don't want to be dishonest, but being the Debbie Downer all of the time gets really old, too. Sometimes I just say I have one son. And I think that answer is worse than telling the truth. The injustice of not mentioning Jameson, not acknowledging his life cuts into my heart so deeply and I regret it at once. He already seems so much like a dream some of the time; to make him less real is unbearable. Sometimes I say I have two boys and just don't mention that one of them is in heaven. And it feels so wrong, this lie. At least he is real in this answer. But there is always that dread that if the conversation continues or if this person someday meets me again, will I be left foolishly trying to explain away my untruth?

And both of those answers bother me terribly because they leave out the baby. And even though I was only 7 weeks pregnant, it is my baby. And that baby is real, despite what some people may think. He or she was a life and that baby is now in heaven and someday Jameson will introduce me to his sibling and I cannot wait. But it is hard to place value on a baby when so many scoff at the idea of life before birth really mattering all that much. It is hard to make that baby real when all I know of him is the dream, when there is no face to place, no name to state, no gender to use. How do I even make him real to myself, let alone to anyone else?

I've spent a lot of time this week trying to think of a good, stock answer to give out all summer during T-ball practices, soccer games, swim lessons, beach trips, park playdates, etc. Hopefully, that way I am not waiting in panic for someone to ask me if I have other children. I'm tossing a few things around, but it is just so tough. I think I want to keep it short and sweet(possible!?) so I don't have to go into it unless they ask. Something like "I have three children and two youngest are in heaven." And maybe I'll just start looking up when I say it. Focus on the kids instead of the faces here.

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