"Other People"

This weekend, Mo and I were at the market and we saw parents pushing a little baby girl in her stroller.  She was all slumped over, barely moving.  I couldn't see her breathing.  She looked dead.  I wondered why her parents didn't seem at all concerned.  I would have been slowing to a stop every few minutes just to make sure her chest was still moving up and down.  I was tempted to check for a pulse myself.  And then I remembered - they assume they are safe....because bad things happen to other people.  People like me.  And then I realized something else - I also assume that bad things won't happen to other people.  I make the false assumption that if something terrible and tragic hasn't happened to other people yet, it probably won't.  They will continue to live their "charmed" life (which, I am sure is FULL of normal people issues with relationships, or lack of relationships, or not enough money, or can't lose the weight, or fighting with their co-worker), because they have been up until this point.

Even after Maxie stopped breathing, the people around us just knew it wouldn't/couldn't happen to them.  In fact, Maxie's death seemed to have been the assurance they needed that their child would be fine.  As one relative told me, since it already happened to Max, statistically, she could be assured that her children were safe - almost like Maxie's death came as a relief to her.  Now she didn't have to worry about SIDS anymore.  Check that off the list.  And, she did - filling her crib with bumpers and blankets and stuffed animals - I mean, why not?  She was pretty much guaranteed that nothing would happen to her baby.  And, she was right.  I've seen that kid in some pretty dicey situations and there has never been anything more than a bump on the head.

My friends drop their kids off at daycare and announce that they feel sad - not because they are worried that their kid may never come home from daycare but because they feel sad leaving them there.  I can relate.  In my wildest dreams, I never thought my son would die at daycare. Then again, I wasn't friends with me....

As a complete surprise, I received some passes to the Disney parks from an old friend's wife over the weekend for Maxie's Benefit.  It was such a awesome donation, especially since I'd been turning over every stone I could think of to get Disney passes for the silent auction.  The passes came with the most beautiful letter.  As I read it, tears were rolling down my cheeks.  "There just aren't words to articulate how wrong the world is that my boy is still here and yours is gone", she said.  You see, her son was born just around the same time as Max.  He is turning three.  I think about him and all of the other kids that are the age Maxie should be all of the time.  I wonder if their parents know what a gift it is that their children are still alive.  I wonder if they realize that, in a way, it is just chance or good luck that mine died and theirs lived.  Or, do they all just assume that mine died because this happens to people like me and not people like them?  Am I so different?  Are we such freaks?  Her letter confirms that she knows we are not.  Those simple but very brave words meant so much to me.  I say brave because most people will not acknowledge the unfairness of it all.

You see, I was not much different from you.  I was a normal mother, who worried about her child, but assumed he would be fine.  I poured my heart into loving him and caring for him and he was taken from me anyway.  I was also sad when I dropped him at daycare every day, but I couldn't be with him all of the time.  Being one of those "other people" that bad things happen to, leads me (and you I assume) to believe that I somehow (and Ted and Max and Mo) deserved this.  Is that what you think?  I mean, that just isn't the truth.  It was complete randomness that caused my child to die and yours to live.  Accidents and illness can happen to anyone.

This world is filled with Chaos - each moment could be your last - could be your loved ones last.  It doesn't matter how good you are, how special your child is, how much you pray, how much you know that nothing bad will ever happen to you.  The few people who have acknowledged that to me, who have recognized that could have just as easily been their child - I don't know - they've touched my heart.  They've somehow normalized us to me - like we aren't freaks, we aren't those "other" people, our son was not doomed from the start.  We just happened to be the unlucky ones this time.  I continue to pray that it won't be anyone else I know or love next time.


Tara said...

I wanted to say that I love your blog, but that seems wrong. There isn't anything to love about the reason you blog. I found your blog when I was feeling the loneliest I've ever felt. Finding your blog, reading your words, in all their un-filtered honesty, has made me feel so much less alone. Thank you so much for that.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of something I read years ago where a father of 3 very young kids who was dying of pancreatic cancer. He said he never felt his diagnosis was "unfair." He said something like, the arrow was shot and it could have hit anyone, but it hit him. There was no fair or unfair about it. It is true. It is chaos. None of us are special, and that is a really scary reality to face. I'm sorry you've had to face it in the WORST possible way.