In March, Jack will be 10, and three days later, it'll be the decade anniversary of his twin's death.
If you're new around here, and want to know more about that, you can read about Robby here. I'll warn you, though, that this story has been proven to be quite the tear-jerker for many, so if you're not up to that, feel free to pass.
So why am I posting about this now, more than two months early? The main reasons are (1) It's constantly on my mind now, as we close a decade of missing our son, and (2) we will be in the process of completing a move to Miami (not San Diego, after all!), and I may find it hard to be online much at that time, between the anniversary, the move, and whatever other little crises come up between now and then. We do seem to have a lot of those.
I really don't know what to say, think, do, or feel about this major milestone since Robby died. It has never stopped hurting, although time has softened the blow, certainly. I have stopped being angry with God for not granting the miracle I was so sure he would provide. I've stopped wanting to blame everyone for the mistakes they made at the hospital - except myself. I do still blame myself for not being a squeakier wheel; I suspect I'll never be able to stop that. And I have even stopped seeing double every time I look at Jack, although it does still happen on occasion.
It is hard not to imagine what life would be like right now, with identical 9-year-old boys with blond hair, hazel eyes, and I have no idea what kind of temperament. All three of our living children are full of quirks, like their parents and especially me, and Jack is no exception. I wonder if Robby would have had the same or even related quirks, or if he would have manifested his own idiosyncracies. I wonder if he would still be the bigger boy, I wonder if he would have needed the daily growth hormone injections that Jack gets, and I wonder if he would have had all those delays, too.
I remember right after he died, when we had first moved into the house in Virginia Beach that we have now left behind, I would step out the front door and be amazed - no, stunned! - that the rest of the world was still living their lives as usual. How could that be? Don't they all know that my BABY just DIED?! Why isn't everyone stopping, holding their breath, freaking out, something, along with me? But no, it was business as usual for anyone outside our microcosm, and I was so deeply offended by that at the time.
Now I know, it is out of necessity, often, that people are able to pick up and move right along, even if something horrible has happened. I know this because I have to shut out the bad things that happen, especially to children (like Sandy Hook), and almost exclude them from my awareness entirely. Otherwise, my heart would break on a never-ending basis, and I am not strong enough for that.
I'm really not. People who know about the torments I've faced in my life are always telling me what a strong person I must be. I don't want to list them again, here, because then I will dwell on that and how it "looks" to be renumerating them, another time, instead of focusing on all the many blessings that have been bestowed upon me. However, I do feel that strength is not something one has, all the time, so much as something one is given at any particular time. There have been many attempts on my own life, both before and after Robby's passing, for instance. Is that strength to handle whatever God deems me strong enough to handle, or weakness not to be able to carry through? You decide.
I am such a different parent than the ones who raised me. I recently had it out with my own father, who blames his own upbringing for the way he raised my sister and me, over that very thing. I am certainly not a perfect parent to Chloë, Jack and Sophia, but I like to think that I am a much better one than my dad and stepmother ever were to me after Mom died. Why? Because I consciously and conscientiously decided I was going to be different, give them a different outcome. And when I mess up with them, I own up and apologize. So different. I have often said that if they would just do the same to me, own up and apologize for the severe damage to my psyche, it would go a long, long way toward my healing and recovery. I would be able to forgive what I can not now forget.
What does that have to do with losing Robby? Everything, I think. I felt as though, when he was taken from us, it was a punishment for past mistakes made. And others seemed to feel that way, too, judging from some comments I received in the first year afterward, when things really went haywire up in the ol' noggin. Now, I know better. Things happen. Medical mistakes get made. People die. Life continues without them. It's not a hands-off way of thinking as much as a survival method, a coping mechanism. If I weren't a Biologist by training, I don't know that I would be able to think that way, but it is what has rescued me from completely falling into the abyss. I need to be here for my children and my husband. Robby does not need me right now, where he is.
I suppose I don't really know where this post is going, save being a place for me to get out all my thoughts crowding their way forward and down to my fingertips. Once I post these types of things, I am usually able to take a deep breath and stop obsessing so much over whatever it is. I have learned that it is okay to obsess for a little while, but over-indulging can have catastrophic results for me and those around me. No need for that now, please.
In the end, no matter how deeply I feel about what happened to our son, no matter how much I think about it or yearn for him, he will still be gone. Dead. Yes, I can say it. I say it often, actually, although it's harder to type it out and see it right there in front of me, inescapable and LOUD. My son is dead. My husband is retiring from 20 years of service in the United States Navy and will soon be going to college, Chloë could hit puberty any day - year? - now, Jack will be a decade old, and Sophia's talents grow daily... but Robby will still be dead. Not a damn thing can change that.
I just asked myself whether I would want to change that. At first, the "yes" seemed to be the obvious answer, but after really thinking about it, my answer is a resounding "I don't know!" So much about my life, our family's life, and our collective consciousness has been changed by that last gasp of breath. What would be different? Everything. What would be the same? Nothing. We might not have Sophia, for one thing, which is unimagineable. The girl makes her presence be known to all! For another thing, so much healing about my mother's death has come about because of learning to deal with Robby's death. You don't look a gift horse like that in the mouth, even if doesn't seem like such a gift at the time, or to anyone else but me and my 'team' of psych folks.
I guess all that's left to ask is, now what? Do I stay in the CLIMB (Centers for Loss in Multiple Birth) Facebook group and continue to ignore most of the posts, lest I actually feel something uncomfortable? I don't know. Do we continue to celebrate his birthday along with Jack's? I don't know! One thing is for sure; whenever anybody notices the 'baby' necklace Rob's mom gave me, or asks me how many kids I have, the pat answer will always be, "I have three living and one in heaven." That can both be an invitation to ask more, or depending on my tone and expression, a door slammed shut. I will never deny my son's existence by not acknowledging him at all, though, in such cases. Please do not ask or expect me to; I will not. I will not.
The one thought I want to leave any of you who might still be reading this far along is, when someone you know has experienced a similar tragedy in their lives, please do not say, "I know," "I understand," or anything like that, because even if a similar thing has happened to you, everyone's path through grief is different, and the steps walked to get through it have started from different experiences and will lead there, too. Just say, "I'm sorry for your loss, and I am here for you." And then be there for them. A week, a month, even a year later. Just care.
Time to go now. I'm all out of thoughts on this for the time being. Thanks for reading.