8. Sometimes I feel so, so sorry for myself.

Just now I was going through the journal I kept throughout my pregnancy with August, looking for certain data, like how much and what type of warm-up labor I felt leading up to his birth. I came across this entry, written almost three weeks before his birth, about a dream I had forgotten but now remember very well:

Dec. 24, 2009 — 38 weeks and 6 days pregnant!

Baby, you are due a week from tomorrow! Though Michele keeps telling me not to expect you until at least January 8. I’m getting so curious and excited to meet you and see who you are.

I asked my subconscious the other night to tell me when you might be born. I asked to dream a number. So here is what I dreamed:

I came downstairs in the house on Hardouin — the one where I grew up. My dad and brother were sitting in the game room, looking out the window toward the Klines’ house, crying and looking glum. It turned out that a little boy, about five or six years old (January 5th or 6th?), had taken a walk at 5 a.m. (is that the time when you will be born?) with his dog, and had accidentally pulled a tree limb down on himself. It had ripped him in two (is this a birth fear of mine?) and killed him (is that a fear I have about you — that you might die too young?). Are you a boy? When I woke up from the dream I was so sad — achingly, awfully sad — thinking of what it would be like to lose a child. I don’t think I could withstand it. I would want to die too, if you died. I wouldn’t be able to live anymore.

Rereading that entry tonight made me just…weep. I am still weeping. I am shocked by that awful, awesome dream, by its prophetic nature; it’s further proof that I knew. Not consciously, thank goodness; I thank the universe, again and again, for sparing me the information until I absolutely needed to know. But subconsciously, I knew August wouldn’t live. I knew he was a boy, that he would die too young, that I would be lost in devastation, and my family would grieve.

(Here is another post I wrote a while back about indications that on some level, I knew what was going to happen.)

It scares me beyond words, beyond description, to think this new baby, whose due date is tomorrow, could die too. Tonight I found myself telling E that if this baby doesn’t make it, he should put me on suicide watch. I hate saying thoughts like that aloud…I feel like it isn’t nice or right to voice such dark, dark things, even to my husband. (And that, in itself, feels beyond silly to write: It’s not nice to talk about suicide!) And anyway — suicidal, me? Never before. Even in my darkest moments since August died, I never wanted to kill myself. Sometimes I wanted to die, or simply not to wake up, but I never had the urge to do that to myself.

But if I thought I couldn’t withstand the death of one child…I know I couldn’t withstand the deaths of two.

Going to bed now, feeling very, very sorry for myself and for that sweet little baby whom we loved so, so much, who died too young.

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7. Sometimes I thought August died because he didn’t want to stay with us.

Six days after August was born and died, a friend of mine sent me these lyrics from a Patti Smith song:

Image from UK painter Mary MacCarthy — click image to visit site

Little emerald bird
wants to fly away
If I cup my hand
could I make him stay?

Little emerald soul
Little emerald eye
Little emerald soul
Must you say goodbye?

All the things that we pursue
All that we dream
are composed as nature knew
In a feather green

Little emerald bird
As you light afar
It is true I heard
God is where you are

Little emerald soul
Little emerald eye
Little emerald bird
We must say goodbye

I just came across them again, 18 months later, and they brought back how horribly devastated and betrayed I felt when he died. I felt like he left us on purpose. I remember our midwife coming over three days after the birth, and asking her, “Why didn’t he want to stick around? We love him so much. We were so ready for him. Why didn’t he want to stay?” She said, “Oh, sweetie, I think he did want to stay. He just couldn’t.”

It’s been over a year and a half and it’s still hard for me to understand. Sometimes I get it: Everyone dies. Some people die much, much younger than anyone expects. That’s what happened to August. That’s all.

But other times it just washes over me as strongly as it did from the start: Why didn’t he stay? Is there anything I could have done to make him stick around? Did he leave because there was something lacking in us, his parents? Something undeserving? Is there greater meaning in his life and death than simple biology?

Did he know how much we loved him and wanted him here with us? And still do?

Is this really a hole that can never, ever be filled?

Will I ever get used to that?