Yesterday at our youngest son’s sports physical, the nurse asked, “How many brothers and sisters do you have?”
He said, “One, a brother.”
She said, “Were you born first or second?”
He sat for a minute on the edge of the examining table, paper crinkling as his legs shifted, trying to think how to answer, looking down, then looking at me.
He mumbled, “Um…I don’t know.” And, the nurse looked at me, confused as to why my 12 year old didn’t know whether he was born first or second.
I waited a moment, as he sat quietly. I have stumbled on that uncomfortable silence, myself, wondering how to answer similar questions. It is something altogether heart wrenching to watch your child stumble in that agonizing silence.
I sighed, then said, “We lost babies in between the boys. He is having trouble answering you, because he is actually our fifth child. We had twin daughters who were stillborn from twin to twin transfusion syndrome, and a newborn son, who died six hours after birth from Potter’s Syndrome.”
He kept his eyes on me, thankful for the rescue and unsure what would come next. And, she said, “I’m sorry.”
I said something to try to make the moment easier, telling her “it is ok, we talk about our babies. We have a ministry for grieving parents. It’s ok”.
And, we went on.
All, these years later, their presence and their absence still speak volumes in our family.