I find myself torn between two worlds, two communities. I belong to both yet find it incredibly difficult to exist authentically in each. One is the loss world and the other is everyone else. I teeter between these worlds because my daughter died and my son lived.
In the loss community I can say my daughter’s name. Aisley. I can share my pain and my grief. I can connect with other families who can see my broken heart burned into my sleeve, this heart often invisible to anyone else. They embrace me as I cry and allow me to embrace them. We live with vulnerable honesty. I love the people in this world, although none of us wish to be in it.
The rest of the world paid their respects when my daughter died, but most of them don’t want me to say her name. Saying her name makes them sad. If they only knew how much I need to talk about my girl. If they only knew how real she was and how much a part of my family she is.
Once I gave birth to my son I felt such an abundance of love…love I can hardly express. I wanted to shout his name in celebration! My son hasn’t and could never replace my daughter and I would have celebrated his birth with my Aisley if she were here. Yet I found myself feeling guilty for my joy.
I know where this guilt stems from. I have been the mother who aches when she sees other babies as she mourns her own. I have been the mother who cries while she’s pregnant due to the overwhelming fear during pregnancy after loss. I have been and still am an empty armed mother, as I’ll always grieve for my daughter.
But now my son lives.
Because I know this pain I feel compelled to keep my elation over my son from most of the loss community. Because I know how much it can hurt I don’t often say my son’s name to them. He remains hidden from most of them just as Aisley remains hidden from much of the rest of the world.
If only they knew how hard it was for me to keep him in the shadows. If only they knew how precious he is to me, just as my daughter is. If only they knew how much I need to talk openly about him as well.
Can I live authentically in both worlds without upsetting everyone? Can I be vulnerable and honest even though I might make people sad? In the meantime I live somewhere in the middle, craving the ability to shout both my baby’s names wherever I go.