Dad shares the heartache of losing a child and then trying to raise a new baby, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I’ll never be the same father I was before. I’m sorry that you will live with me, to some degree, in grief.”
A beautiful post shared on New York Times by father of two Jayson Greene, explains what life is like trying to raise a new baby after the heartache of losing your toddler.
“Children Don’t Always Live”, writes Jayson.
He begins by explaining, “My daughter, Greta, was 2 years old when she died — or rather, when she was killed. A piece of masonry fell eight stories from an improperly maintained building and struck her in the head while she sat on a bench on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with her grandmother.”
“She was rushed to the hospital, where she underwent emergency brain surgery, but she never regained consciousness. She was declared brain-dead, and my wife and I donated her organs. She was our only child.”
He goes on to explain, “Seven weeks ago, our second child was born; a son, Greta’s younger brother. They would have been exactly three and a half years apart. With his birth, I have become a father to a living child and a spirit — one child on this side of the curtain, and another whispering from beneath it. The confusion is constant, and in my moments of strength I succumb to it. I had a child die, and I chose to become a father again. There can be no greater definition of stupidity or bravery; insanity or clarity; hubris or grace.”
“I remember with a start: We were never going to have him. We always said Greta was enough — why have another kid? I gaze in awe. He wouldn’t exist if his sister had not died. I have two children. Where is the other one?”
Becoming a parent is already a terrifying process. After a child’s violent death, the calculations are murkier. What does my trauma mean for this happy, uncomplicated being in my care? Will it affect the choices I make on his behalf? Am I going to give a smaller, more fearful world to him than I gave to Greta? Is he doomed to live under the shadow of what happened to his sister?”
His heartbreaking realisation hits home hard, “When I am on the playground years from now, watching my son take a fall from the monkey bars, I might not panic. But some part of me will remember: A heartbeat can stop. Hearing a heartbeat for the first time during the ultrasound, and then watching doctors shine light on unresponsive pupils two years later, you stop thinking of a heartbeat as a constant, and more as a favorable weather condition. Now I am a reminder of the most unwelcome message in human history. Children — yours, mine — they don’t necessarily live.
When I realized Greta would not live, I wanted to die so purely, and so simply. I could feel my heart gazing up at me quizzically, asking me in between beats: “Are you sure you want me to keep doing this?” But I found I could not give the order.
Since my son was born, I’ve caught myself making concrete plans for my suicide if he were to die. I will draft a letter to my parents, or even tell them face-to-face. “I’m going to meet my children,” I will say. If the world takes this one, I am not meant to be here. It is a frightening thought because it is so logical. How would anyone argue me out of it? Who would even try?
I do not believe anything bad will happen to him in his infancy. It makes a sort of sense: Nothing bad happened to Greta as an infant. I do not wake up in the middle of the night to check on him. I do not even flinch when I hand him to others and watch them grapple awkwardly with his floppy neck.
However, some part of me is grimly certain he will die at 2. The evidence is all on my side: 100 percent of my children have suffered this fate. Even as I carry my baby into the world — this crowded, clamorous, septic world — I am holding a breath that I will not release until he turns precisely one day older than Greta.”
So touching, but so heartbreaking. Sadly, Children don’t always live. Our hearts go out to any family suffering grief for their child at the moment.
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