an episodic journal by Corey B. Buckner
Legendary Grief Ch. 1
by Corey B. Buckner
I wanted a baby, and what I got was a box. Everyday I come home from work, and where my son should be, there is a box… staring at me; reminding me that my son is no longer coming. In fact, in the matter of just a few months that son has already come and he has already gone. My plans for our relationship have already come and have already gone. My ideas for his life; they have already come and they have already gone; and in their place is this box.
One small, shoe-sized box is all I have of him now. How is it that all of his belongings; everything he ever owned in his life can be concealed in a box that is not big enough to hold a pair of my shoes. Every outfit that he will ever own, and every photo that will ever be taken of him; all of it is concealed to this one box that stares me down in the morning when I am getting dressed and in the evening when I return home from work. How is this fair that I MADE a baby, and what I got in exchange for his life is this box.
I can’t move on from the fact that my wife should still be pregnant. Everyday I am staring at a box that holds in it the belongings of a baby who is still supposed to be in its mother’s womb. How am I supposed to process that? How am I supposed to process memorializing and living in remembrance of a child that hasn’t even supposed to have started his life yet? How did he leave before he arrived? That is the burning question in all of this… HOW?
In one moment we went from living in anticipation, to existing in confusion over a life that can be concealed to the tiny space of one box. We went from preparation to aftermath with nothing in between but a notice from a doctor who could only tell us what had already happened to him. And now in the aftermath, what we have is not a baby at home with us, we have a box of his belongings. One little box. One outfit. One photo album. That is his entire life? How? From the time of conception I battled the emotions of not knowing if I was prepared to take care of him; HOW was I supposed to know that I should have been preparing for how I would live without him?
You THINK you know how it feels to lose a child, but you don’t. You can’t empathize, you can’t imagine it and you can’t fathom the sheer emptiness that overtakes you when you view the lifeless body of a child that you created. You have no idea what it feels like to hold a baby and bond with it even though you know that he was gone before you saw him. There is absolutely no way to prepare for that. You do not know the willful, therapeutic insanity of pretending that you are holding your child so that you can have memories to hold onto once they remove him from your arms; even though LOGICALLY you know that his soul is already gone from the body.
Nobody prepares for that. There is no preparation for that.
You don’t heal from that; you just learn how to process it in a way that allows you to be functional. You don’t heal from it; you just wrap the wound in your heart tightly so that you don’t bleed out your emotions unto death. You don’t heal from that; you learn to live with the gaping, child-shaped hole left in your heart by the passing of the baby that you never got to watch breath the same air as you.
So you try to fill that space with projects. But they aren’t the same shape as the child who has left you; so you continue to bleed out your emotions. You try to distract yourself from the pain it is causing by caring for child’s grieving mother. But, the offset of satisfaction you feel from caring for her does not fill the hole perfectly; so you continue bleeding out your emotions.
Your pain is concealed; and you are literally internally bleeding to death with a smile on your face. Everything annoys you; yet you are trying to remain at peace. You feel guilty about the time you spend with your living kids, as though it is a slight to the one who passed. You feel guilty for laughing, smiling or feeling happy. The only time you feel as though you are honoring the child you lost is when you are grieving him.
I fear that if I move on from this grief that I will be moving on from him. I fear that if I ever forget how horrible I feel in the aftermath of his passing that I may forget that he ever lived. I am afraid that others will not include him when they tally up the number of kids that my wife and I have in this blended family of ours.
I am afraid that people will forget our little baby bump. I am afraid that a year from now if God blesses us with another little bump that it will erase the joy that I had in having this little bump. I know that I am not supposed to live in fear; but I am afraid that if that fear leaves me… so will my son. This fear is all I have. This fear, this grief, this box, and the 22 weeks that I had leading up to his leaving us is all I have.
I have those things… but I also have a love for him that can never be undone. I have to keep reminding myself that in the absence of fear and in the absence of grief I will still have love. If this box and all its contents were to burn up in a fire; I would still have love. It is that love that will eventually replace this grief. It is that love that will eventually replace this fear. It is this love; this unimaginable and otherwise unattainable love that will ensure that my son, Legend Love Buckner, will live on and never be forgotten. Love is LITERALLY his middle name; and he will live on forever in the love that I; his grieving father has for him.