It was the end of February last year when my sister came to me and begged me to help her and keep the secret of her unborn child just beginning to grown inside her. Through the weeks and months following, I fought a constant internal battle. On the outside I supported, loved and became the only constant in her life. The only one who knew, the only one able to be depended on. But internally I had a stronger struggle. The one against my conscience.
“Should I tell our parents?” Yes. “But then she ” ll feel betrayed by me and won’t trust me.” Do what you know is right. “But I don’t know what is right! Can’t I just silently love her?” You know better. “Am I accepting her sin as being easily forgiven and forgotten?” And on the war wages, bringing waves of pain, grief and an increasingly frantic need to do something. Spring passed, then summer, its time to go back to school. Should I stay home with her? Six hundred miles seems too far.
No. This time I will do the right thing. I will leave and secretly I hope this will force her to tell our parents her secret. So, I left. Six months had gone by since that life-changing February night. The phone rings.
I answer to hear sobbing on the other end. Sick in the pit of my stomach, I knew who it was. Through her tears I was able to understand certain words: “early labor”, “stillborn”, “dead”, “blue lips and fingers”, “so tiny”, “its a boy.” A fierce buzzing filled my ears as I somehow tried to mumble words of comfort through my suddenly numb lips. Hang up. Legs suddenly turn to rubber. Crumple to the ground.
Crawl into the bathroom and vomit uncontrollably, tears flowing all the while. Curled into a ball. Somehow, protect me from the empty throbbing pain washing over me. The blackness finally embraces, sleep comes. There, on the cold tile floor. Morning comes and with the new day fresh waves of nausea roll over me, a reaction to my brokenness and shaking grief.
Long drive home. Tiny white casket. Bring him back to us God! Somehow make this nothing but a nightmare. It wasn’t his fault! Take me instead! Our precious baby boy, that beautiful secret life snuffed out before he had a change to shine. Insensitive people mutter platitudes, never helping, somehow only causing more pain. Thud.
Thud. Thud. More and more dirt covers the tiny white casket, no more than two feet long. With every shovel-ful my mind reeled, “If I had just stayed home, I could have helped her.
He wouldn’t have died. If I had been there I could have kept it from happening and my beautiful new nephew would be in my arms instead of buried in the cold earth. But now my hands are tied. All I can do is react and relive these horrifying moments over and over until the end of time. Nothing changing, every memory as fresh as the day it happened, just as painful. Time does NOT heal.
All I have left is my empty soul, desperately trying to find faith in something. Impossible. – In memory of Gregory Andrew McAllister who died before he could live. – September 15, 2002.