Let me start by welcoming my friend Tam's new son into the world, albeit a couple of days after the fact. This is what happens when work is keeping me so busy - I don't catch up to everything on time.
Birth and death. I was thinking of this today when chatting with a friend because I referred to Gabriel's birth. I find that I refer to his birth far more than his death.
I wonder why that is. I suppose to some extent, they are linked as the same event in my mind, because he was so premature that one inevitably led to the other. His birth was not a happy or desired event, not at that time. So for people who know our story, who know me, I don't need to remind them about his death, it is implied by mentioning his birth.
Likewise, when it comes up in conversation with a stranger, I often say that I have a son who passed away shortly after his birth. So then death comes first, the trump card thrown down in advance of any other play, to ward off further questions.
And yet, though they are the same thing to me and though it doesn't change the outcome, I find myself ruminating on the choice to refer to his birth. As if in mentioning that and only that makes him more real, more present. As if it challenges the listener to deny his existance. As if there is some sliver of hope and joy somewhere in there, some recalling of the happiness that is birth for other people, normal people.
I think of Gabriel's birth day, not his death day. I measure time since his birth more often than since his death. Is it that death still seems so final, so uncertain? I believe he is still with us - my husband admitted to me today (to my relief) that he sometimes feel his presence as well. An indescribable feeling, a certain knowledge that Gabriel simply is, and is there, with him, with us. Not just a reminder or a memory, but an overwhelming feeling of being. Death undermines that faith and certainty - what dreams may come, and so forth.
It doesn't mean much in the end I guess. A word choice, unconsciously made. Likely unnoticed by the listener. And yet... I weigh them together on scales of my mind. Birth. Death. Two sides of Gabriel's coin - the same meaning when it comes to him. And still, I find the idea of his birth weighs less than the idea of his death. More positive, more generous, more giving, more accepting of the possibilities, more open.
Perhaps it is just an invitation from my heart, to allow room for continuing to love him, for continuning to miss him, to allow space for his presence in our lives, for his existance.