Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dropping the Bomb

Chris and I were invited to the annual meeting of a land trust recently. We sat down in the last available chairs at a table of eight. I followed along as our fellow diners chit-chatted about the land trust, occupations, people we have in common. I politely answered the question about what I do for work. I stared at my plate when they talked about their kids and thought about how to answer "the question". Just before dessert, Chris' neighbor leaned over and asked, "Do you have any kids?" We both gulped and swallowed and her eyes grew wide with the recognition that she had unintentionally crossed into a place where she didn't mean to go. Chris said that we have a son who died in April. I added that he was a fullterm baby who died in labor. They expressed sympathy. We got through it.

Don't get me wrong, I want people to ask. I want people to know. I need them to know. Like Elizabeth McCracken wrote in her new memoir An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, I want a stack of business cards that say "my first and only child was born still". I wanted to sit down at dinner that night, shake hands, introduce myself as Dalene, the mother of a son who died in April. Get it out in the air. Because without that knowledge, no one can really know me.

No comments: