Published on July 16th, 2015 | by Carla Grossini-Concha3
INSIDE OUT: Carla Grossini-Concha on Loving Her Daughter While Mourning Her Son
Today is my daughter’s 9-month birthday. It’s her “inside-out” birthday: the same approximate amount of time she’s been out of my belly, as she’s been out.
In the midst of the sleep deprivation and exhaustion, I catch myself staring at her in the widest-eyed awe my heavy lids can afford me. She is thriving: growing, exploring, and since she is my daughter, skeptically sizing up all the world that is around her.
She is absolute love and delight. She is the light of our lives.
Yet here I sit, up at night in the dark, watching her and my wife slumbering, and I have that familiar lump in my throat.
I miss him.
I wish he were here.
He’s been gone 26 months. He died in my arms over 2 years ago. My son. The memory I have of him fades more and more every day. This is such a frustrating time for me; because I can’t recall what it was like seeing him the one and only time I ever got to. I mourn the short time he spent in the NICU while I was recovering, all the time that he had living that I missed out on because I was sick. He was by himself in the hospital, holding on to life long enough just to say goodbye to his mothers.
I can’t remember what he smelled like, or what his weight felt like on my chest. And just like it did the day after he died, it leaves me breathless, voiceless, and gasping for air.
I wish he were here.
And I mean here, as in here to hug and squeeze, and tell him to bring me a bedtime book to read to him, or to wake up in the morning and hop in bed to cuddle with his mamas.
That’s what our 2-year-old son would be doing right now. He’d be discovering more of himself every day, becoming independent and wiser, and interacting with his little sister.
She stares in awe and just absolute adoration of older kids. And it breaks my heart. She doesn’t get to have the older brother to copycat, to look to for help, or as a shoulder to lean on, or as her confidant when she gets older.
Let me rephrase that, because I hope she always has a connection with her older brother, even if he isn’t in this world in the physical sense. I hope she thinks of him when she sees a hummingbird, or when she hears one of his songs that we’ve played her, or spots the number ten. We will always speak of Luca in our house. He will always be a member of our family.
But he will never be here to help her climb her first tree, or play hide-and-go-seek with, or race around the yard.
This constant dichotomy of emotions will forever linger in my life.
The daily happiness and gratefulness of being her mother and getting to watch her grow, and the intense sadness, missing a piece of my entire being that I lost with Luca.
She pulls herself up to standing, or discovers a picture book with animals that she is absolutely beside herself with excitement about. I am amazed and in love. A moment later I imagine watching Luca do the same. I crack again.
I blend in with the other neighborhood mamas well enough. Some know my story, some don’t. Most that do don’t say a word, and some avoid me like the plague, as if losing a child is as contagious.
When I meet a new parent, they ask – “is she your first?” “Is she your only?” And I’ve never lied. I won’t ever dishonor my son just to make a stranger feel comfortable. He made me a mother; I carried him for 9 months. I labored, and I gave birth to him. She is not my first.
I glare longingly at the mamas with the double stroller and their two babes. I wish it were me who was tandem-wearing my toddler and my infant.
I wish it were he running through the house as she crawls around my feet.
But it’s not. All the wishing in the world won’t bring my baby boy back. And this realization can be a switch that brings me back to reality forces me to be present, to the light and love that our daughter brings.
If it weren’t for Luca, she wouldn’t be here.
And if it wasn’t for her, I might not be here.
photos (c) Gina Grossini