My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

It Was a Dark and Stormy Nightmare

I love my son, but I fear for his life. This isn’t a rational fear, but its persistent, overwhelming, and it happens to all parents. You see, children are born with no fear what-so-ever. You save their lives hundreds of times a day, rearrange your life to keep them safe, and imagine an infinite number of ways in which harm can come to them. These thoughts can eventually metastasize into nervous idiosyncrasies that can easily manifest themselves and create overprotective parents.

With me, the fear haunts my dreams. I do what I can to suppress it, but the fear has a way of sneaking through. Below is a dream that I had several nights ago. It’s horrific and I apologize ahead of time, but feel the need to share so that I will not have this dream again.

* * *

I was cold and lifeless before he was, still in my thoughts and emotions, and silently accepting of the situation on some level deeper than I should have. I always assumed that he would die before me, things in my life just happened that way. He was my first son and the last of my hope. Hope for myself, nothing else. I had failed at everything in life and he was to be my salvation - proof that I was something. So as I looked down at his lifeless body, wondering how something so fragile could ever really have a chance, I knew that my own life had also just ended.

It had started seven months before on my wife’s birthday as the best present possible in the worst possible wrapping. He was 8 pounds 4 ounces, 19 inches long, and was born at 9:57AM Eastern Standard Time. They took him immediately, fluid in his lungs, and he stayed in the hospital for almost a week. She stayed by him while I tried to keep the family and friends away. When he finally emerged from the hospital a week later, he was healthy and normal.

His small body, dead and still perfect, lodged in my head as I crawled into the tub. She had left for her parents; family would heal her. I told myself that I would feel no pain, but I didn’t care. A friend who I trusted would find me in a couple hours and tell the story. Everyone would claim that they saw it coming and did nothing. Vague admissions to pardon my actions, but all meant to bolster the pain. I now wished the pain would come, but knew it wouldn’t. I was already dead.

The months ahead of him were normal in every way. Fawning family, sycophantic friends, and random well-wishers - all stealing his time for their own. I was a good father and did everything that I could to make his time here perfect. For a while I thought that my life was renewed, like some sort of forgiveness of past sins. He learned to smile, roll over, and laugh all while looking at me. My confidence grew with each of his victories and I was a better person than I have ever been before.

They took his body away immediately. Standard operating procedure when an infant is involved. You just can’t trust parents not to kill their children. This was no different. He was bagged, zipped, and carried out by someone who tried not to say anything. My wife sobbed and I stood there like an idiot. Arrangements were hastily made, she left shortly after, and we barely exchanged words. Both of us were dumb, but I remained motionless in her fury to keep moving.

He had been learning how to stand - pulling himself up on anything or anyone within reach. Food was his latest hobby and he never failed to get most of it in his mouth. He smiled a lot and people told him that he was beautiful. He was, he knew it, and it showed. Confidence would have never been a problem for him. I’m sure that all parents think that their baby is above average, but I really believed it.

My decision to kill myself had been automatic - I had no choice in the matter. I would always remember his smile and the cold way that it distorted once I realized that he was dead. It would haunt me until I died, so there was no use in prolonging the inevitable. I waited for her to leave, took several more phone calls, and made sure that someone was coming to check on me. Business as usual, just punching the clock and doing my job.

It was the stereotypical morning that you always hear about. Movement, shuffling, and quiet sounds emanated from his crib. I rose to catch him before he could get grumpy, but this time it was different. The sounds had come from my head, during their usual time, and I had got up in expectation of a smile and our practiced morning. Later they would call it Sudden Infant Death Syndrome - I knew that you wanted something sexier, but life doesn’t work that way. He died by himself, hours before me, and was a better person. I would like to tell you that I looked as beautiful as I lay in the tub, that my smile equaled his, and that I would be missed as much, but I know better. He was the best of me and I was just finishing what he had started.

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