23. Sometimes they get it right.

Last night I watched a movie in which one of the characters has a child who died. In one scene, she imagines a conversation with another character that isn’t really happening. In that conversation, the other person tells her, “You lost a child. That’s as rough as it gets. But it’s all about how you move forward from here. You don’t just shut down. You keep living.”

Or something like that. I don’t remember the exact words. But I remember the truth of them.

There have been a few movies and TV shows I’ve seen that made me think, Yep, whoever wrote this lost a child in real life, because they just get it, spot-on, in the writing. Sometimes the actor really gets it, too, but more often, it’s in the writing. In the movie last night, it was the detail that this character imagined this conversation with another person. The other person wasn’t actually saying these things to her; these were the things she wanted, needed, to hear from another human being.

I think that is so exactly how it is. When you live through the death of your own child, I think you want other people to say to you, out loud, “This is the worst thing that could ever possibly happen to you.” You want it both as acknowledgement of your pain and the enormity of your loss, and also as reassurance — Nothing that ever happens to you again will be as bad as this. Because, if it were possible that something as bad or worse could happen — how could you live through it? It would be like trying to live through a horrendous airplane crash after surviving being shot in the head.

Of course, no one can give you that reassurance, not really. Other terrible things may happen. But hearing those words is still soothing. A balm for this impossible life we live.

And, after an experience like that, you want to be told that the focus now, the meaning, lies in how you choose to move forward. I don’t mean move on. I mean, how you keep living. That is the big question, I think, for anyone who has lived through a horrendous loss. How do you keep going? How do you find joy again? How do you decide there is any worth at all in keeping on waking up day after day?

You want to be told there is a focus because you want to believe there is something important to learn or to do now. Otherwise — if it’s really all just random; if your life really did just go from good to awful in a moment… It’s just too unfair and depressing to contemplate.

A friend-from-afar who reads this blog checked in with me recently, since she noticed I hadn’t posted in a while. (Thank you, friend!) I’ve been remiss in posting because I’ve been busy: We had another baby! Another little boy. I am so glad to have another son. I feel like I’m getting another chance to connect with a little boy-human, a chance I missed out on with August. Not that Zephyr can ever replace August, nor should he. He is his own little boy-human. I’m just really, really glad he’s here, and his sister, too.

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