Today marks the first anniversary of our son’s death. We lost him last year Fall to Asthma. They are times when I still can’t believe that he is gone–my precious baby. He was thirteen years old. He had his whole life ahead of him or so we thought.
I had one crying spell today. I’m sure I will have more. Royce is at work. I guess being among his colleagues and keeping busy will help him. I took the day off because I thought it best to do so. I didn’t want to be the subject of pitying stares and people walking on eggshells around me. If I want to cry, I don’t have to leave my desk to do so. Here at home, I can cry anywhere and as loudly as I need to.
A few friends and neighbors called to see how I was doing. My family called too but none of my in-laws bothered to call. They never approved of our marriage. I’m Trinidadian and older than Royce. Shortly after, Micah died, my mother-in-law had the nerve to say to Royce, “Now that Micah is no longer here, there’s really no reason for you to stay married to her. Get a divorce. Let her keep the house if you like and find your own place. Or you can move back home until you do. I can fix up your old room for you.” Naturally, she didn’t say this in front of me. I overheard them talking. They didn’t know that I was upstairs. I had to cancel my counselling session because I had one of my migraines and was lying down. I was thirsty and was on my way to the kitchen when I heard her.
“I don’t want to divorce Patsy, Mom.”
“Why not?” his mother demanded. “You married her because she was pregnant, didn’t you?”
“No. I married her because I love her.”
“Well, that can change. Royce, you’re a young, handsome man. There are younger women out there whom you can meet. You can marry again and have children. Patsy is 50. At her age it would be risky to have another child. There would be complications. You could end up having a child with Downs Syndrome. Is that what you want? Why put yourself through that when you can get out of the marriage and start over with someone else. There’s Vanessa. She’s young, pretty and Jamaican. And I know she still has her eye on you.”
She almost jumped out her skin when I walked into the kitchen. Royce was surprised to see me. “I thought you were out,” he said.
“I had one of my migraines.” I walked past his mother and got a glass out of the cupboard. I poured myself some water and then I walked out of the kitchen. I went back upstairs and sat up in the bed with the pillows propped behind me. My head was feeling better but I still had to have the curtains drawn. I turned on the radio for the alarm clock and listened to some music. The news came on after a while and there was a story about kidnappers and cougars. Apparently, two men tried to kidnap a teenage girl but her father came out with his shotgun and they ran off into the woods. Hours later, the authorities found found them. One was dead after being attacked and mauled by two cougars. The other was up in a tree, badly shaken.
I thought of the family of the man who was killed. Even though he was a bad man who was going to take a young girl away from her family and do who knows what to her, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for those he left behind. I know what it’s like to lose someone unexpectedly. One minute they are here and the next they are gone. Never once did I ever imagine that Micah would die thirteen years after I gave birth to him. That was the second happiest day of my life. The first was my wedding.
I was forty-two when I had Micah and I was so thankful that he was a healthy baby. He was a beautiful baby. Royce and I adored him but we didn’t spoil him. Then, he developed Asthma when he was in Primary school. It was hard seeing him struggling to breath–something so many of us take for granted. He hated that he had Asthma. I promised him that he would grow out of it when he was older. He never got the chance to do that.
I know that it wouldn’t be wise to have another child at my age. It was devastating losing the one I had. My dreams of becoming a mother-in-law and a grandmother died with Micah. The days which followed his death, were dark and wrought with pain and grief and suffering. I couldn’t stop crying and sleep was impossible for a long time. I got through those terrible moments with God’s help and Royce’s love and support. There were many times when we held each other as we cried. He was such a terrific Dad to Micah. They were close. Micah was handsome and tall like him. They loved basketball and went to the playground where they played with his friends and some of the boys in the neighborhood.
There was a girl named Brandi whom Micah liked. Royce and I used to tease him about it. She still hasn’t gotten over his death. This morning, when I went to his graveside, she was there. We hugged and cried. She wanted us to go for hot chocolate afterwards but I felt a migraine coming on so I gave her a rain-check. I called my Grief and Loss Psychotherapist and cancelled the appointment and then I took a taxi home. I envied Brandi’s parents. Their daughter, now fourteen, the age Micah would have been if he had lived, was still alive. One day she will get married and have children.
I wiped the tears from my cheeks and close my eyes. I understood how Job felt when he lost his children in one day. Yet, like him, I can declare, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.” I know in my heart that one day I will see Micah again and it will be for eternity. Until then, I will continue to miss him and the wonderful memories I have of him close to my heart.
The door opens and Royce walks in. He comes over to the bed, his expression apologetic as he looks down at me. “I’m sorry you heard what my mother said.”
“Is she gone?”
“Yes. I asked her to leave.”
“I bet she wasn’t thrilled about that.”
“I don’t want her here if she’s going to upset you.”
“She doesn’t like me because I’m not Jamaican. I have come to terms with that. I would like to think that if Micah were still alive and he got married that I would turn out to be a good mother-in-law.”
“I’m sure you would have. I went to his graveside at lunch time today. It felt so surreal standing there knowing that six feet under the ground our son is lying there.”
I blink back the tears. “He’s resting until the Lord returns.”
He sat down on the bed and covered my hands. His eyes are moist. “One day the three of us will be together again.”
“So, does this mean you aren’t going to divorce me like your mother wants?”
“Patsy, I don’t care what my mother wants. I’ll tell you what I told her. I married you because I love you not because you got pregnant. Nothing has changed now because Micah is no longer here. I still want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want to grow old with you.”
“What about being a father again? Don’t you want that?”
“You are the only woman I wanted to be the mother of my children. And now that we aren’t going to have any more, I’m totally fine with that. I can live without children but I can’t live without you. My life and happiness are wrapped up in you. If I had to choose between remarrying and fathering another woman’s children or remaining your husband, it’s no contest. I choose you. As Adam said, you’re bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. You’re a part of me. You complete me, Patsy.”
I was crying now. He pulled me into his arms and hugged me tightly. We stayed like that for a long time.