I was seven when my mother had a miscarriage. Twelve years later, the issue still bothers me as I struggle with coming to grips with the changes and uncertainty fate plays in all our lives.
I have two other brothers, both younger. And yet, I can imagine I could have had a third. He’d be 12 now, right in between my 14-year-old brother who just graduated from middle school and my 5-year-old brother just finishing kindergarten.
He would have been another mouth to feed, another fidgety kid to dress. He would have not eaten his vegetables and not practiced piano like mom told him. He would have needed someone to look at his homework and caused me to wait another 20 minutes while he collected his stuff from his closet at school. And yet, I would have loved him all the same.
It’s hard to grieve as a child. How do you cry for someone you’ve never seen? How do you express outrage over something you barely understand? Looking back on that moment I saw my mother happy and tired when she came back from the hospital. And though I didn’t realize it at the time, her eyes only hinted at her sadness. A friend, who’s mother also had a miscarriage, told me once, “Yeah, moms. They never forget.”
I was an innocent child. I was not disappointed then because I didn’t know what to expect. My younger brother was two at the time and I simply saw him as another loud, fleshy person taking up space. To imagine two such beings occupying my house was unthinkable. I hugged my mom. Another baby would just be more trouble. Charles was crying enough as it is anyway.
Over the next few days, my mother was quiet and calm. She never failed to kiss me on the forehead at any opportunity. While pleasant at first, this occasion quickly became a nuisance when there were GI Joe battles to be fought and pictures of battleships to draw.
Over the next few months, my mother regained her composure and went back to work. Months then turned into years. And our lives went on.
I am neither Catholic, nor Muslim, nor Buddhist. I suppose at best I would be labeled as an agnostic. “God’s in His heaven, all’s right with the world.” His works can be both miraculous and incomprehensible. But whether we as people were meant to understand them remains to be seen. The best we can do is to continue on, and remain firm in the belief that we live our lives in the best possible way.
I do wonder what it would have been like to have another brother. But I love the ones I have all the same. And though my mother never forgets, she will forever remain my mother. And I do love her as well. I love her for what she has endured, for the spirit she has instilled in me, and for the unwavering love she has for all her children, both here and departed.
Name withheld at author’s request