Nine months. Almost the amount of time I carried you inside of me. And now you are gone. There are many days that the horror of losing you almost seems like a nightmare, something that could not have happened in real life. Yet, you are not here in my arms, crawling, laughing and playing.
Your brother turned 4 on Monday. It was a hard day for me. I showed him a picture from the hospital, with me and papa holding him, so he could see what he used to look like. Then I took a walk on a path through woods near our house. I started crying as I walked. I will never get to show you pictures of what you used to look like. I will never get anymore pictures of you at all. On your birthday, perhaps the only new picture I will have to share will be of your grave. And that will never be okay with me.
Tomorrow is Eli’s birthday party with friends from school. We have always done his parties at our house, more like a play date style, with homemade cake and snacks. But this year we are doing it at a MyGym, and I ordered a Paw Patrol cake. I don’t want to have multiple families at our house all day. I don’t want to remember Eli’s birthday last year, when you were inside of me, happily kicking. Some of the friends hadn’t known about you, and I proudly showed off my bulging stomach, taking for granted that you would be alive and playing at Eli’s next birthday. And now you are gone.
I started teaching again last week, my beautiful little boy. It felt good to be in the classroom. I mostly have new students, so no one has asked about you. But I already canceled classes for your birthday, writing on the syllabus that students should use the free time to do something kind for themselves or others. I know I don’t want to teach on your birthday. I was teaching the day you died. I don’t know what we will do. But I know I can’t teach.
I also had a meeting with my mentor. It did not go as well. He started off the conversation with, “I am very concerned about your lack of progress. You don’t seem intellectually engaged. Have you been writing articles?” I started crying. I said I have not been writing (I was on emergency family leave). But I said I have made progress. I no longer wake up every single morning with intense physical heart ache. I know I need to publish articles to keep my job. But I also want to find out a way to use my time, and be the type of person that will make you proud. And write articles for academic journals that only a few people read doesn’t quite seem right. I have been working with kids, my beautiful Sidney, volunteering and also doing a project with some middle school children about how they feel in various public spaces, the concerns they have living in the neighborhoods in Baltimore in which they live. And that work seems more meaningful to me, as does being back in the classroom, where I am teaching a seminar on global poverty, and a class on urban geography. But this stuff does not matter as much to tenure committees, and especially not to my ‘mentor.’ And I don’t like that talking with him made me anxious, made me cry. I need to figure out who I am, and who I want to be, and how to make my life have meaning now that you are gone. And how I can write to an audience in a language that expresses what is important to me.
I miss you so much my beautiful boy. I look at the pictures I have of you every night. I think of you every day. I wear my necklace that has an E and an S on it, for my two boys.
I will always love you Sidney Louis. Not a day goes by that I don’t long for you.
Always and forever.